Here’s another bus you would have likely have seen or ridden in if you were spending time in any large North American metropolitan area in the decades of the 1950s and ’60s, especially those in the US Midwest. It’s a Flxible Twin Coach FT series urban transit coach.
Before there was a “Flxible – Twin Coach” there was a “Fageol – Twin Coach” – a company that manufactured buses, trucks and marine engines – and was founded by the innovative Fageol brothers after they left American Car and Foundry (ACF) in 1927. Why Twin Coach? Because one of the first models they introduced in 1929 was a dual-engined transit bus. It had two Waukesha six cylinder gas engines, one on each side located about mid-way between front and rear. This design offered more power and increased interior space over then current front- or rear-engined models.
With more powerful and improved engines available post-war, the company introduced a new single-engined design to compete with GM and other urban transit bus manufacturers. It was designated the S-series, and came in sizes seating 34, 38, 41, 44, and 50 passengers. It was 96 in. wide and varied in length from 29 to 38 ft.
While GM had its innovative airbag suspension and others were still using steel springs, Twin Coach used BF Goodrich’s “Torsilastic” torsion bar setup – later a staple on Eagle coaches and their European predecessors.
While engines from different manufacturers could be ordered, most came with an in-house gas or propane fueled Fageol FTC, a 404 cubic inch inline OHV six that put out 180 hp and 379 ft lbs of torque (gas version).
Lacking a diesel engine to compete with GM, Twin Coach partnered with Leyland and produced a version of Leyland’s diesel. Engines were located underfloor amidships and were all longitudinal “laydown” designs.
Twin Coach was also a major producer of electric trolley buses.
A few also made it to Europe.
In 1953, Fageol sold the bus portion of the business to Flxible, who at that time did not have a transit model. Flxible kept the design with few modifications, but renamed it the FT series (Flxible Transit). They also kept the protruding six-pane front windshield design, which would become a Flxible transit bus trademark.
One articulated demonstrator that seated 55 was built, but unfortunately found no buyers – you can see the rear wheel steering in action in the photo above.
Fortunately it has survived and resides at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, awaiting restoration.
Flxible kept the design in production until 1959, though sales steadily declined throughout the 1950’s. One city that was a loyal Twin Coach customer was Chicago who maintained a large Twin fleet, until finally succumbing to the GM juggernaut. In this photo you can just make out the Flxible logo on the front below the windshield which was placed on top of the Twin Coach badge. This bus is also a 102 inch wide model, introduced in 1952.
By 1961, Flxible had its “New Look” model ready for the market and the Twin Coach name was laid to rest…
Well built, a few of these Twin Coaches were still in regular service in the mid-’70s.