Western Flyer Coach was founded by John Coval in 1930 as the Western Auto and Truck Body Works Ltd. Reflecting an increased focus on bus manufacturing, it changed its name in 1948 to Western Flyer Coach.
In 1955 the “Canuck” highway coach model was introduced and was redesigned several times over the next ten years. The Canuck 500 and 600 were the last versions to be produced.
1941 Western Flyer Coach(look at the back)
The Coach market was a very competitive place for a small company like Western Flyer, especially with GMC and MCI dominating the industry. In 1968, Western Flyer decided to end its coach production and delivered its last intercity coach that year.
In the late 1960s, Western Flyer further focused on the urban transit bus market with the introduction of the D700 and E700 models.
Even with the release of the D700 and E700 models, Western Flyer was still a financially weak company. In 1971, the Manitoba Development Corporation stepped in to save Western Flyer and changed its name to Flyer Industries Limited in 1971.
The name “Setra” comes from “selbsttragend” (self supporting). This refers to the integral nature of the construction of the vehicles back in the 1950s when competitor vehicles still featured a separate chassis and body (often manufactured by separate companies). It is also possible that, with an eye to export markets, the company was mindful that for non-German speakers, the name “Kässbohrer” is difficult to pronounce. Until 1995 the firm operated under the name Kässbohrer-Setra, but in that year economic difficulties enforced its sale to Daimler Benz (between 1998 and 2008 known, especially in the US, by the name of its holding company Daimler Chrysler). Since 1995, Setra has been a member of the Daimler Benz subsidiary, EvoBus GmbH.
The North American distribution for Setra by Daimler is set to be partnered and taken over by Motor Coach Industries on April 25, 2012 as Daimler restructures its North American bus operations in 2013.
Orion International, previously Orion Bus Industries and Ontario Bus Industries in Canada and Bus Industries of America in the United States, was a bus manufacturer based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and established by the Government of Ontario in 1975. The company had assembly plants in Mississauga for initial assembly, and in Oriskany, New York, for final assembly and testing of vehicles destined for US markets.
On April 25, 2012, Orion International ceased taking orders for new buses, and the Missisauga plant was scheduled to close once outstanding orders were fulfilled.
The Oriskany plant was initially retained for aftermarket support only. Following the sale of that business to New Flyer Industries (which also acquired some of Orion’s outstanding orders at the time of shutdown), the fate of the New York location remains unclear although it is still currently performing repairs, including a retrofit program with BAE Systems for recalled hybrid-electric buses using BAE’s HybriDrive system.
The sales and closures are part of the closure of Daimler Buses North America; only Daimler’s imported Setra buses will continue to be marketed although North American distribution will be taken over by Motor Coach Industries (MCI). Production of Daimler Buses North America’s Sprinter shuttle buses will be moved to other facilities. It was announced there will be more than 530 workers will be laid off in the Mississauga and Oriskany plants which the Mississauga workers staged a wildcat work stoppage to protest in employee frustration at the slow pace of winding-down talks.
Oriskany was the head office for part department to support Orion bus operators until New Flyer Industries acquired the after market business from Daimler Buses.
1933: Harry Zoltok turns his Winnipeg repair shop into the laboratory for the future of coach travel. He sketches his first vehicle design, an 11-passenger body on a Packard chassis, on the factory floor. His small manufacturing company, Fort Garry Motor Body and Paint Works, finds itself on the cusp of a new mass transit industry.
1936: The Public Works administration provides the first large-scale federal government public transportation assistance in the United States, promoting public transport on both rail and road. This Depression-era move starts putting local transit operations in the hands of taxpayers.
1937: The company designs and builds its first proprietary chassis and manufactures its first line of coaches for Grey Goose Bus Lines in Winnipeg. Today, Grey Goose is a subsidiary of Greyhound Canada Transportation Corp. operating in Manitoba.
1939: Fort Garry designs and manufactures the Model 150, a new transit-type coach with the windshield over the radiator, the first use of exterior stainless steel panels and a pancake engine mounted midship under the floor.
1941: On January 7, the company changes its name to Motor Coach Industries Limited, but coach production quickly gives way to the manufacturing needs of World War II. The company’s new Winnipeg facility at Erin Street and St. Matthews Avenue is converted to manufacture Jeep trailers, boat trailers for rescue craft, army truck bodies and pontoon bridge sections plus the reconditioning of aircraft pontoons.
1942: MCI builds and designs the first electric trolley bus manufactured in Canada, known as Number 1532. It has its own route for 25 years, but never becomes a regular production item.
1945: With the war’s end, MCI reverts to regular coach production and introduced its first rear engine coach, the Model 100, in 1946. Over the rest of the decade the company adds its National Products subsidiary, which manufactures and sells pole line hardware for the prairie provinces’ rural electrification program and, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, National Porcelain is formed to manufacture porcelain insulators for that market.
1948: Greyhound Lines of Canada acquires a majority interest in MCI, with Harry Zoltok continuing as company president.
1949: MCI’s Model 50, a 33-passenger coach, is introduced as a successor to the Model 100, the first coach synonymous with the Canadian Greyhound operation.
1950s: Like so many major users of steel at the time, MCI continues to diversify past its bedrock coach business. It uses its excess capacity to expand National Products Co. into ornamental street lighting poles, and creates the Alsco Windows and Doors Co. to serve the growing postwar housing market. MCI also expands to offer custom metal fabrication services for truck bodies.
During this decade, the coach division continues to innovate; the company adds the 85, 90, 95, 96 and launches the new MC series of coaches. The MC-1 proves to be a revolutionary new design incorporating a heating system linked to the engine cooling system and a translucent roof.
1958: Greyhound Lines of Canada acquires the remaining shares in MCI with Zoltok keeping his role as president.
1959: The MC-1 cements the company’s popularity; 26 coaches are produced during the year, with the company additionally developing its MCX2 prototype. At the same time, MCI sells National Porcelain. During the Greyhound years, MCI is the first manufacturer to build a 40-foot coach.
1962: MCI heads south of the border and establishes its Pembina, North Dakota plant, 68 miles south of Winnipeg, which officially opens in 1963.
1963: MCI officially enters the U.S. coach market, developing the MC-2, MC-3, MC-4, MC-5 and the MC-5A over the rest of the decade.
1967: MCI delivers the first prototype of the landmark MC-6 “Super Cruiser” coach to Greyhound; designed and developed for Greyhound, it features a 102-inch wheelbase, an all-stainless-steel frame, and a V-12 engine.
1968: The 40-foot-long MC-7 is developed and put into production just before the MC-6, representing the first time MCI has multiple coach lines in parallel production. The company is now producing 500 coaches a year, compared to only 50 in the early 1960s.
An official after-market parts division is established at Motor Coach Industries’ plant at Pembina, North Dakota.
1969: MCI builds a total of 100 coaches between 1969 and 1970; a fraction of its current production. MCI will reintroduce the all-stainless-steel frame in 1997 when it builds the 102EL3 Renaissance® coach (now the E4500).
1970s: MCI begins international distribution with its first sales to Mexico, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.
1971: Harry Zoltok retires, while the company opens a new parts distribution center in Northlake, Illinois. Greyhound moves its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Phoenix. The company builds its first MC-5B coach (production runs through 1977).
1972: Hausman Bus Sales, founded in 1954 by Jerry Hausman, with sales and service centers in Chicago, New Jersey and California, joins forces with MCI and begins selling its new coaches exclusively.
1973: The MC-8 hits the roads, replacing the MC-7.
1975: MCI Service Parts division becomes Universal Coach Parts Inc., supplying motor coach, transit and school bus operators with parts.
1978: The company develops the MC-9 Crusader II, destined to become the North American intercity coach industry’s all-time best-seller.
1980: MCI continues to expand its parts and manufacturing operations in Canada and the United States. The company expands its production lines in Fort Garry and Pembina to double the production capacity of the popular MC-9. The Canadian distribution center opens in Newcastle, Ontario, under the MCI Service Parts name.
1983: UCP pioneers its “C.O.A.C.H.” program — Customer Order Assisted Computerized Handling — the first electronic parts ordering system and accessed by more than 300 customers.
1984: A full six years before the Americans with Disabilities Act is passed, MCI is the first coach manufacturer to offer wheelchair lifts on its vehicles. The first model is contracted out as retrofit for Terra Transport and built for the Canadian Government in June 1984; it buys another in October.
1985: MCI builds its very own first six MC-9 units with wheelchair lifts by the end of February 1986 for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
1987: MCI acquires General Motor’s bus parts business, virtually doubling the size of the company overnight. That same year, a larger parts distribution facility is purchased in Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, becoming it’s new headquarters location.
1993: MCI launches COACH GUARD®, a private brand of aftermarket parts, which grows to include a full line of filters, remanufactured transmissions, bearings, seals, electrical items and hundreds of other parts, all engineered and manufactured to strict tolerances for long-lasting performance.
1994: The MC-9 becomes the nation’s all-time best-selling coach with 6,406 vehicles sold between 1978 and 1994.
1995: The MC-9 gives way to what will be a new leader, the MCI D-Series. The first D-Series model, the 102DL3, accommodates 55 passengers and its expanded 45-foot length makes it an even more popular model than the “9” (Today, there are more than 7,700 D models on the road in the United States and Canada).
MCI purchases the assets of Billingsley Parts & Equipment, a distributor of school bus parts and manufacturer of specialty parts.
1996: MCI unveils its Renaissance Coach, the 102EL3, a new-look designed with a patented spiral entryway created with the assistance of BMW Designworks USA.
The company acquires the parts assets of the Flxible Corporation, one of the nation’s largest transit bus manufacturers.
1998: The company announces plans to open a new facility in Louisville on a 31-acre site near a UPS hub and to consolidate the operations of its existing warehouse facilities. The company also announces plans for an Internet-based online ordering system, named The Parts Store, replacing its C.O.A.C.H. — Customer Order-Assisted Computerized Handling system.
1999: MCI moves into a new 40,000-square-foot Dallas sales and service center. The location also serves as the home of MCI Financial Services.
2000: MCI wins a historic order from New Jersey Transit — $500 million for 1,400 commuter “cruiser” coaches. At the time, it is the largest coach transaction ever recorded for a transit agency.
The company commemorates its move to Louisville and announces its name change to MCI Service Parts Inc., in keeping with MCI’s corporate strategy of unifying its network of related services under the MCI name.
2001: MCI introduces its J4500 model, which will quickly go on to become the best-selling coach in the industry. Its award-winning styling follows that of the E4500 (formerly called the Renaissance), and its mechanical systems are simplified for an easy ownership experience. By 2007, the J4500 surpasses 2,103 units.
MCI opens its Orlando, Florida-area sales and service center.
2003: MCI invests $40 million in the expansion of its Winnipeg plant and moves the production of the G4500 from its former Mexico plant to Winnipeg, integrating the model into the E4500/J4500 mixed-platform line.
2004: The MCI J4500 ranks as the #1 industry best seller in the trend report published by National Bus Trader magazine.
MCI offers Emergency Roadside Assistance 24 hours a day, every day, managed in-house by MCI professionals through its technical support call center at the Louisville parts distribution center.
2008 MCI D4005
2005: MCI gives the D-Series a major makeover, endowing what will now be called the D4005 and D4505 with the curvier, more modern exterior styling that have made the J and E models so attractive to operators.
Greyhound Canada MCI D4505
2007: MCI launches its Go Green. Go Coach. Go MCI.™ slogan and makes major strides toward industry leadership in providing “greener” transportation solutions to both the public and private sectors. Embracing new EPA requirements, MCI rolls out its model line with the industry’s largest selection of clean-diesel engines and transmission options. The company also accelerates its plans for a second generation of hybrid diesel coaches. In summer, it puts its J4500 coach equipped with a 2007 EPA-compliant Caterpillar engine on the road to raise awareness of Green coach transportation during the 54-day Udall Legacy Bus Tour.
2014 MCI J4500
MCI establishes the first National Training Center at its Louisville location, dedicated to enhancing and advancing the skills of all motor coach technicians. At the same time, it introduces its Coach Driving Simulator, the industry’s first maker-specific high-tech simulator, offering a virtual-reality driving experience and a variety of safety scenarios to enhance drivers’ skills.
2013 MCI Celebrates 80 Years of Bus Production
2008: MCI celebrates the 75th anniversary of its first coach with a special edition of the best selling J4500 coach.
2005 Motor Coach Industries D4505 Brewster
2010: By the end of the first decade of the new millennium, MCI’s J4500 model continued to be the industry’s best-selling coach, and its D4500 commuter coach and D4505 took the second and third top-selling spots in the industry’s annual trend survey. Now, the next generation of EPA-compliant 2010 clean-diesel engines has arrived, promising near-zero emissions and fuel savings. As technology improvements to the coach models continue, MCI is also implementing technology on the customer service side, taking full advantage of online parts ordering, customer training webinars and more.
2010 Greyhound MCI D4505
2011: MCI marks the 6,000th unit off its E/J assembly line and a first-ever order from the City of Los Angeles for 95 compressed natural gas (CNG) Commuter Coach models. MCI has a long history serving public transit and the data confirms how well the MCI Commuter Coach performs in both reliability and total cost of ownership. It offers 42 percent greater seating capacity than a comparable transit bus at a cost that’s 15 percent lower per seat. Additionally, in recent independent testing, the MCI Commuter Coach proved itself to be 10 times more reliable than the closest competitor.
2011 MCI D4500CT 8952
2012: Growing Strategically, Growing Smart: MCI announces the completion of its acquisition of Setra’s U.S. and Canadian operations and establishes a strategic partnership with Daimler Buses (Daimler). These important moves gave MCI responsibility for sales and service support of Setra S 417 and Setra S 407 motor coach models and its pre-owned coach inventory, the distribution of Setra and related genuine Daimler Buses parts and operation of Setra’s Orlando-based service center. Daimler also acquires a minority ownership position in MCI, forming an engineering, technology and manufacturing alliance as part of the transaction. The bottom line? Of the 55,000 coaches on the road today, the majority are made by MCI.
Whistler Express MCI’s
2013: Reliability Driven™: Marking its 80th birthday, MCI has rededicated itself to building the most reliable coaches in North America. Our MCI-Reliability Driven™ philosophy reflects the company’s promise to design, build and deliver expertly engineered coaches with top-quality components, the latest safety and security features and unsurpassed parts availability and service. Reliability Driven™ goes beyond the slogan in our factories and offices, too. There’s a new corporate culture at MCI where our multi-facility ISO 9001:2008 registration assures that all plants share best practices to consistently turn out world-class products and marketplace innovations. We are working every day to make this company better.
MCI Megabus 58538 Toronto
And They Love Our Looks: At MCI, being Reliability Driven™ also means knowing how to refine a good thing. Customers have made the MCI J4500 a bestseller for nine years running and now MCI is giving operators new reasons to add the 2013 J4500 to fleets — including some eye-catching style changes. Working with BMW Group Designworks USA — the team that gave the market-leading J4500 its unprecedented curb appeal — MCI is refining and improving the look and feel of our luxury coaches inside and out in 2013 and beyond.
Reliable Coaches: New Standards of Accessibility, Convenience and Comfort — The economy and environment are redefining the way people travel. That’s good for MCI. Today’s municipal and private transportation systems are looking to coach transport as the most flexible, affordable and greenest option for passengers who want to make the most of their money and time. That’s why MCI is investing in the latest onboard amenities that turn riders into lifetime customers: Wi-Fi, power outlets and wide flat-screen monitors to keep riders engaged, entertained and working. To keep all customers rolling, state-of-the art wheelchair lifts make accessibility and alternate transportation options possible for all.
Reliable Safety: Safety First, Safety Always — MCI continues to lead the market in important safety and performance features. MCI coaches feature Electronic Stability Control, SmartWave Tire Pressure monitoring system and a fire suppression system. Popular safety options include three-point passenger seatbelts and reverse sensing.
Reliable Parts and Service: Aftermarket Support That’s Second to None — MCI is there around-the-clock, whether it’s an emergency on the road or a question in the garage. While our presence is widespread, our services are focused. MCI provides one of the best networks of aftermarket support in the industry with expert technical help, onsite training and the largest inventory of OEM parts for all makes of motor coach makes and transit buses. And they’re all backed by our commitment to quality and reliability.
Coaches that are Cleaner and Greener: One fully occupied motor coach can displace as many as 56 passenger cars from crowded highways and when it comes to carbon dioxide (Co2) per passenger mile, coaches pollute far less than trains, planes or cars. But that’s only where the good news starts. MCI’s new coach models are powered by the next generation of clean-diesel engine technology that promises near-zero emissions and increased fuel savings. MCI is the only manufacturer to offer an intercity model, the MCI Commuter Coach, in diesel-electric hybrid and CNG configurations. MCI is proud that these low-emissions coaches are helping to reduce highway congestion and protect our air quality.
Coaches that Serve Virtually Every Customer and Purpose: No matter what your need, MCI has the coach. We serve the following markets:
Tour and charter
Scheduled and curb-side service
Motor Coach Industries International Inc. (MCII) is an American bus manufacturer based in Des Plaines, Illinois, and is a leading participant in the North American coach bus industry. It has various operating subsidiaries:
Motor Coach Industries, Ltd. – Canadian manufacturing facility, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
MCI Sales and Service, Inc. – U.S. new and pre-owned coach sales division.
MCI Service Parts – aftermarket parts sales division of the company, based in Des Plaines, Illinois, with its distribution center located in Louisville, Kentucky, with close access to the international UPS distribution center.
MCI Financial Services – coach financing division, based in Dallas, Texas.
In December 1986, Greyhound was split, with Greyhound Lines being sold to an investor group, and Greyhound Lines of Canada, MCI and TMC remaining part of The Greyhound Corporation, which was renamed Dial, Inc. in 1991.
MCI also took over production of GM’s RTS model, transferring production to TMC. MCI also purchased the GM bus assembly plant in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, which then produced GM’s Canadian transit bus model, the Classic. TMC ceased production of the older MCI vehicles in 1990 to concentrate on manufacturing the RTS, and on the “A-Model” intercity coaches.
In 1993 MCI became an independent corporation, Motor Coach Industries International Inc.
1994 MCI’s share sold / Introduction of the Mexican HTQ technology and Luxury Coaches by DINA S.A.
In 1994, MCI stocks were purchased by Mexican DINA S.A., who had a long history of bus building and developed their HTQ proprietary technology (valued in a total of 70 million dollars) that culminated with the creation of the Viaggio Confort Bus Line. Over the course of the next years MCI reproduced its Viaggio 1000 DOT for sale to the U.S and Canada. In late 1999/2000 the G4100, G4500 and F3500 models were released to the U.S. and Canadian markets. Production of the G4100 and G4500 later moved to Winnipeg and Pembina. Related to a major contract cancellation by Western StarDINA S.A. sold a great portion of its previously acquired MCI shares to Joseph Littlejohn & Levy.
In 1994 TMC, including production rights for the RTS, was sold to NovaBus .
In 1997 MCI purchased the rights from the bankrupt Flxible to produce the Flxible Metro and all related parts for same.
After a period of product demand, increased competition and lay-offs in the early 2000s, production at MCI plants in Winnipeg and Pembina increased in 2006, and 130 employees were added.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, MCI consolidated its operations, the Winnipeg site was expanded and modernized as well as DINA S.A. purchased North American Symix and opened an assembly plant in Buenos AiresArgentina and the DIMEX and DINAIR companies. A new coach finishing and paint facility and customer delivery centre were constructed on the site. At the same time, a 7-year contract was attained with the IAMAW union local. This agreement contained cost improvements and production operations flexibility to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the manufacturing and assembly operations.
The buses, especially the older MC-8 and workhorse MC-9 models of the 1980s became the standard for interstate travel for many bus companies. Those particular buses featured metal frames and roof supports, metal panels on the sides and were extremely durable and reliable. Many of the buses, having survived millions of miles of commercial use, have been given a second career serving churches or other organizations, while the MCI/TMC coaches are very popular “conversion shells,” used for motorhomes.
Currently, the “J” and “D” models are the leading coaches in the North American intercity coach market.
2008 Emergence from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy / Ownership by KPS Capital Partners, LP
Motor Coach Industries Inc. announced on September 15, 2008, the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a restructuring the company said would “help shed hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.”
On Friday, April 17, 2009, Motor Coach Industries Inc. emerged from its voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization. MCII and its subsidiaries are now wholly owned by KPS Capital Partners, LP. KPS Capital Partners, LP is the Manager of the KPS Special Situations Funds, a family of private equity limited partnerships with over $2.6 billion of committed capital focused on constructive investing in restructurings, turnarounds, and other special situations. KPS invests in companies challenged by the need to effect immediate and significant change.
Partnership with Daimler AG
On April 25, 2012, MCI announced a minority stake with Daimler AG to produce Setra buses for the North American market as Daimler reconfigured its bus operations in North America and exited the commercial bus market there. The takeover would make MCI the exclusive North American distributor of the Setra S407 and S417 German-manufactured premium motor coaches.
Under the proposed agreement, through a transition period of several months following the execution of definitive agreements and the closing of the transaction, MCI would evaluate operations related to Setra in North America, and, where appropriate, integrate such operations with existing MCI facilities which will permit MCI and Daimler Buses to realize significant operating synergies. This planned partnership will allow Daimler Buses to better serve its customers through a broader service network, while strengthening Setra’s presence in North America. All Setra motor coaches are German-engineered products produced in Neu-Ulm, Germany. This fact remains unchanged.
After the original numbered Courier and MC models, MCI adopted letters for the different series of coaches. Two different schemes have been used:
Motor Coach Industries currently produces three different product lines. All current models are 102 inches (2.59 m) wide, exclusive of mirrors.
Eagle Bus, (in full, Silver Eagle Bus Manufacturing, Inc.), is an American bus manufacturing company with a long history. During a period of over four decades, some 8,000 Eagle coaches were built in four countries on two continents. The coaches have been a common sight on American highways and have been associated with Continental Trailways for over three decades.
Trailways Golden Eagle on display at the Hershey Antique Automobile Museum.
They were part of an order for 200 highway coaches manufactured under a contract with Continental Trailways. Of this original group, four were articulated. All of these coaches were of the “Setra Design” which meant that they had a chassis-less frame called selbst tragend (self-carrying). The bus was called Setra, a name formed from the first letters of those two words. A slightly less highly equipped model, called “Silver Eagle” because of its stainless steel (“silver”) siding, became the standard fleet bus for Continental Trailways.
In the late 1950s, Kässbohrer announced its decision to concentrate on European coaches. At this point, Continental Trailways formed its own company, Bus & Car Co, N.V., in partnership with the Belgian company La Brugeoise and established its own factory in Belgium. Kässbohrer fulfilled its commitment under the contract with Trailways and Bus & Car picked up production. The Trailways Eagles provided a more comfortable ride than Greyhound LinesMCI coaches. During the middle 1960′s, Trailways and Greyhound ran competitive services on the Boston and New York route with hourly departure schedules. This allowed frequent travelers to draw comparisons between the lines’ equpiment. The Eagles were warmer in the winters, had a softer ride, better upholstery and cushioning on the seats and a quieter cabin.
A small number of other models were built in Belgium for different markets through 1968. In 1968 the Model 05 was introduced and was produced in Belgium.
In the early 1970s, drivers referred to Old Eagles and New Eagles. The Old Eagles had the tag axle behind the drive axle, like a MCI. The New Eagles had the tag axle located forward of the drive axle which made them interesting to drive. The front suspension was very soft with a lot of travel, and since the tag axle torsion bar was pushing the front end up also, some drivers said it was like driving a diving board. The front end went up and down at the slightest provocation and occasionally the driver had to grip the steering wheel to remain seated. Some New Eagles had air ride seats, and some drivers would take the hydraulic jack from the tool kit and set it under the seat to reduce its motion.
In 1974 Eagle International, Inc. started building coaches in Brownsville, Texas, and for two years, the Model 05 was built both in Belgium and Texas. Since 1976, all US-bound coaches have been built in Texas. The Model 10 was introduced with many design changes in 1980. In 1985 the Model 15 was introduced making the standard bus 102 inches wide, then four years later coaches could be ordered 45 feet long. In 1987 Greyhound purchased Trailways and Eagle International, Inc. The name was then changed to Eagle Bus Mfg. Inc. In the 1990s, Greyhound declared bankruptcy, which also included all of its subsidiaries including Eagle Bus Mfg. Inc. Some Eagles were being made, mostly “Entertainer Coaches” for celebrities.
In the late 1990s the company was split and moved to two locations in Mexico. Mexico has a high demand for seated buses and Eagles were built for that market – all with the Eagle Ride “Torsilastic Suspension”.
Eagle Buses today
As of January 2007, Silver Eagle Bus Mfg offers the following models: Model 15 in 38 ft, 40 ft, and 45 ft versions, Model 20 in 38 ft, 40 ft, and 45 ft versions, and the new design Model 25 in 40 ft and 45 foot. The only significant difference between the Model 15 and Model 20 is the width of the body – the Model 15 is 102 inches wide and the Model 20 is the classic 96 inch width body. One of the design changes incorporated into the Model 25 is the height of the body. A similar design analogy could be made by comparing the MCI ‘D’ series with the MCI ‘E’ series buses. The Model 25 is 102 inches wide, and (at the time of this writing) has not yet been certified and completely tested for US Government standards required for intercity buses, so it can only be ordered as a shell for conversion into an ‘Entertainer Coach’ or built as a ‘House Car’.
At the time of this writing, all three models are available with a choice of Cummins, Detroit Diesel Series 60, or Caterpillar engines. Two transmissions are available, the fully automatic Allison 500 series or the standard Eaton Autoshift.
Once again “Eagle Coaches” were planned on being made in Brownsville, Texas. As of June 19, 2009 Silver Eagle had reviewed sites in middle and western Tennessee as well as Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, and Mississippi and negotiated with several communities before choosing to break ground on a new location in Gallatin, Tennessee. Officials from Silver Eagle joined Governor Phil Bredesen, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, and local officials in announcing the project. Silver Eagle Bus Mfg has brought together all of the jigs and blueprints from the original Eagles to make the classic “Eagle” once again, plus they have introduced a newer design.
As of April 2010 Silver Eagle Manufacturing has produced one single Model 25 Tour Shell Coach which has received less than stellar reviews in the cosmetic department. Prior to moving from Brownsville they had an in-process 35 foot Model 20. Here under I Show him.
In 1913, Hugo H. Young and Carl F. Dudte founded the Flexible Sidecar Co. in Loudonville, Ohio, to manufacture motorcycle sidecars with a flexible mounting to the motorcycle. The flexible mounting allowed the sidecar to lean on corners along with the motorcycle, and was based on a design patented by Young.
In 1919, the company’s name was changed to The Flxible Co. (still pronounced “flexible”) so that the name could be registered as a trademark.
After low-priced automobiles became available in the 1920s, the motorcycle sidecar demand dropped and in 1924, Flxible turned to production of funeral cars (hearses), and ambulances, which were primarily manufactured on Buick chassis, but also occasionally on Studebaker, Cadillac and REO chassis, and intercity buses, initially (1930s and early ’40s) built on GMC truck chassis, and powered with Buick Straight 8 engines.
Mexican-made DINA Flxliner bus, in second-class service, berthed in the Silao, Guanajuato central terminal, 2006.
A Changjiang CJ6800G1QH bus in Beijing,China, showing the similarity to the Flxible Metro.
Flxible’s intercity buses were popular in Mexico and in Latin American countries. However, high import duties into these countries limited sales. In the early 1960s, Flxible began licensing a producer in Mexico, DINA S.A. (Diesel Nacional), to manufacture Flxible designed intercity coaches, and this continued until the late 1980s. In 1965 and 1966, Flxible also licensed its “New Look” transit bus design to Canadair Ltd., an aircraft manufacturer in Ville St-Laurent, Quebec.
In 1994, Flxible’s parent company, General Automotive Corporation, and three other American companies, Roger Penske, Mark IV Industries, and Carrier, entered into a joint venture with Changzhou Changjiang Bus, a Chinese manufacturer located in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, to produce buses based on the Flxible Metrodesign and with the Flxible name. The resulting company, China Flxible Auto Corporation, manufactured buses in a variety of lengths, from 8 m (26 ft 3 in) to 11 m (36 ft 1 in). These buses, which include both front- and rear-engine designs, and share only their general exterior appearance with the American-built Flxibles, were sold to many transit operators in major Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. A trolleybus version was manufactured for just one operator, the Hangzhou trolleybus system, which bought a total of 77 between the late 1990s and 2001. However, for these vehicles, Changzhou Changjiang supplied the chassis and Metro-style bodies to the Hangzhou Changjiang Bus Company (in Hangzhou), and that company equipped them as trolleybuses.
Charles Kettering and General Motors
Charles F. Kettering
Charles Kettering, a Loudonville, Ohio native and vice president of General Motors, was closely associated with Flxible for almost the entire first half of the company’s existence. In 1914, Flxible was incorporated with the help of Kettering, who then became president of the company and joined the board of directors. Kettering provided significant funding for the company in its early years, particularly after 1916, when Kettering sold his firm, the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco), to GM for $2.5 million. Kettering continued to serve as president of Flxible, until he became chairman of the board in 1940, a position he held until his death in 1958. After selling Delco to GM in 1916, Kettering organized and ran a research laboratory at GM, and by the 1950s, held the position of vice president at GM. As a result of Kettering’s close relationship with both GM and Flxible, many GM parts were used in the production of Flxible vehicles, particularly prior to GM’s 1943 purchase of Yellow Coach (a competing bus manufacturer, of which GM had been a majority owner since 1925). For example, most Flxible ambulances, hearses, and buses from the mid-1920s to the early-1940s were built on Buick chassis, and Flxible’s “Airway” model buses of the mid-1930s were built on a Chevrolet chassis.
1955 Flxible VistaLiner (VL100)
In 1958, and as a result of the consent decree from the 1956 anti-trust case, United States v. General Motors Corp., GM was mandated to sell their bus components, engines, and transmissions to other manufacturers, free of royalties. However, in the early 1950s and prior to the consent decree, Flxible built a small number of buses with GM diesel engines while Kettering still served on the board. It has been postulated that GM may have made its diesel engines available to Flxible to reduce the criticisms of GM’s business practices that some felt were monopolistic. The same has been said about GM’s decision in the 1960s and 1970s not to produce a 35 ft (11 m) “New Look” transit bus with an 8-cylinder engine. However, it is also possible that GM chose not to enter this market because the potential sales did not warrant the added costs of engineering and production. Another result of the consent decree (which was not settled in its entirety until 1965) was that GM was barred from having any of its officers or directors serve as an officer or director for any other bus manufacturing company. This provision would have applied to Kettering, had he not died in 1958.
In the mid-1980s, several Grumman 870 buses operated by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) developed cracks in their underframes. This prompted NYCTA President David Gunn to remove the entire fleet from service. Soon, several other companies reported cracked 870 frames. However, the frame issues primarily affected NYCTA 870s and not the 870s owned by the franchisees of the New York City Department of Transportation. NYCTA attempted to get the remainder of its pending order for new buses transferred to GM, but was barred from doing so unless they could prove that the 870s were flawed and unsafe. The buses were eventually returned to Flxible and resold to Queen City Metro and New Jersey Transit. Grumman blamed the problems with the NYCTA 870s on NYCTA’s maintenance practices, despite the fact that transit operations in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles had also reported problems with their 870s. Ironically, NYCTA ordered fifty Metros in 1995, but Flxible closed its doors while the order was being produced, and NYCTA obtained the remaining new buses from Orion.
Flxible Owners International
Clipper-era Flxible nose emblem
Flxible Owners International (see external link) was founded in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of the Family Motor Coach Association, and is dedicated to the preservation of buses and coaches produced by Flxible. The organization holds a rally in Loudonville biannually, in even-numbered years and normally in mid-July, where many preserved Flxible coaches and buses may be seen.
The majority of vehicles owned by members are of the Clipper series (Clipper, Visicoach, Starliner) that were produced from the 1930s until 1967. However, there are also quite a few “non-clipper” Flxible coaches that are owned, maintained, and operated by proud Flxible owners. This includes the Starliner, VL100 (VistaLiner), Hi Level, and Flxliner as well as some of the more modern transit buses. Most of these vehicles have been converted to motor homes; however, there are still a few examples of seated coaches belonging to members.