Stepped bi-level or “deck and a half” buses were once very popular – Paul previously wrote a great overview of perhaps the most famous example, the GM PD 4501 Scenicruiser. But as we’ll see below, in North America, the Scenicrusier was hardly the first to use this design. In Europe, bi-level touring buses didn’t seem to catch on, but there were a few exceptions – like the model above, the Krupp SWO 480 – produced by one of Europe’s most storied industrial conglomerates – Friedrich Krupp AG.
Deck and a half buses go back to the twenties; you may remember the Pickwick Parlor coach from a recent post.
In the mid-1930’s, Kenworth built an innovative, semi-monocoque, streamlined bi-level that was used on West Coast routes. It had a midships mounted underfloor Hall Scott gas 6 cylinder engine.
As Gene Herman commented in our ACF Brill post, that company made one prototype of a deck and a half based on its IC-41 coach in 1949.
And Beck made several models; one essentially a panel-for-panel copy of the Scenicruiser in the 1950’s.
The SWO 480 is actually not a deck and a half – as you can see from the picture above, the bus has both an upper and a lower seating area in the rear – a deck and a double?
Krupp updated the front in 1953…eliminating the distinctive coffin nose.
And later slightly modified the design for use in an urban transit role.
Friedrich Krupp AG is a company with a fascinating history – there are several links below for those interested.