Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The ultimate encyclopedia

I recently reviewed the disappointing McNally and Rayman's Greyhound Scenicruiser which turned out to be a few pages of text but mostly dozens and dozens of bland amateur snaps of the bus tipped into the book. Paul Von Fange's 498 page title is what I was really after. Every nut, bolt and washer of the amazing Scenicruiser is revealed through meticulous research and nicely the author considers similar models historically from ACF, White, Kenworth and Fageol who all produced deck and a half buses in the 1920s and 1930s and into the 1950s Beck, ACF, Flxible and Sultana (from Mexico) who turned out look alike Scenicruiser versions.

The initial bus, in 1948, was the GX-1 developed from a Raymond Loewy concept and introduced by Greyhound as 'The highway traveler' though only one was built and run. Next was the GX-2, in service from 1952, carrying forty-two passengers. Both of these morphed in the Scenicruiser PD-4501 (Parlor Diesel with 45 referring to the number of seats) and General Motors produced 1,001 between 1954 and 1956. The author writes about the development and making of the bus in a very readable style which is more than can be said for the 'Greyhound Scenicruiser' I mentioned above or the almost illiterate Robert Redden self-published titles about the bus.

By the late 1970s Greyhound had sold all their PD-4501 buses (even an icon can't produce passenger revenue for ever) and an interesting chapter looks at what happened to the few hundred that have survived over the years and mostly changed into what the owners wanted but there are a precious few that have been restored to what a new Scenicruiser looked like inside and out.

The book's back pages have a very comprehensive bibliography, index, technical diagrams (especially electrical) and a fascinating sixteen pages reproducing two Greyhound brochures for the GX-1 and GX-2, thankfully big enough on the page to read most of the copy.

If you want to know all about Greyhound Scenicruisers this is the only book you'll need. The slight downside is the picture quality, there are several hundred and it's unfortunate that print-on-demand inkjet printing and the paper just doesn't allow for the best reproduction of all these photos and illustrations.

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