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Mid-century fashion, vintage pop culture and retro cool... from Expo 67 and beyond.

3 February 2012

GM's "New Look" Bus

GM's "New Look" Bus
In 1959, General Motors introduced its iconic "New Look" transit bus.

With its slanted windows, fluted aluminum siding and distinctive 6-piece rounded windshield, the design quickly became known as the "Fishbowl".

The original production began in late 1959 in Pontiac, Michigan, and the very first New Looks were delivered to the Washington, D.C. transit system that same year. In 1961, a second production line was started in London, Ontario, with their first buses going to the Hull City Transport in Hull, Quebec. US production ended in 1977 but continued in Canada until 1986. More than 44,000 units were built throughout this time.

The buses were produced in several lengths: 29, 35 and 40 feet. Transmission choices were four-speed manual or automatic. Originally, all New Looks were powered by 6-cylinder diesel engines. General Motors resisted V8 power but eventually gave in to pressure from customers.

New Looks were available in both "Transit" and "Suburban" versions. Transits were traditional city buses with two doors; Suburbans had high-backed, forward-facing seats, underfloor luggage bays, and only one door. GM had refused to install lavatories on its buses, so some transit companies added their own...!

GM's "New Look" Bus
The New Look's reliability, ease of maintenance and relatively economical operation made it the mainstay of North American transit systems from the 1960's through to the 80's.

Bus drivers loved them because of the ease of steering and the visibility through the large windows. Bus enthusiasts call it their favorite.

I've always loved the New Look's design: there's something about the windswept windows, the fishbowl windshield, the angles that keep it from looking too "boxy"... It's what I picture in my mind when I think of a "bus".

GM's "New Look" Bus 
images: stevemunro.ca, scanned from a 1963 brochure.



Blogger Barbara Collishaw said...

I think Hull (now Gatineau) still has some of those early models. And Ottawa, too! Nice to know they came from my hometown, London, Ontario, back when real things were made there... in the plant next door to the one that Caterpillar has just shut down.

8:38 pm  

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