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1925 Gm Yellow Coach Double Decker Bus

The 1925 Open Top Double Decker Bus was built as a joint venture between General Motors and the Yellow Coach Company, was one of the first in the world to be built in this fashion. This example predates the well-known London England Double Decker buses. Built for New York City’s “Fifth Avenue Bus Line”, it added a tourist attraction to the public transportation system in the busiest place in the world where you could view the so-called “Concrete Canyon”.
When Manns Restoration was asked to do this project for the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis Missouri, our early research revealed an amusing yet serious issue. The project was to build a complete new bus body on the original chassis using all the dimensions and details taken directly from the original structure. The problem we found was printed right on the original drawings from 1925 in reference to the passengers. It stated that the average man was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. Most people today would not be able to stand up inside the bus and the weight on the roof would be far greater. So we would have to build it bigger and stronger while still keeping the original aesthetics and proportions. So after our structural drawings and construction plans were accepted and an agreement to complete on budget within 42 weeks and a guarantee of the workmanship for the first three years the building began. The first thing was for us to build a simple metal building to perform all the work in and to keep all the saw dust away from the other operations. Then a four-man crew went to work in overtime hours. Kiln dried White Oak was purchased from a local saw mill and we made all the boards, support beams and tongue and groove. We also fabricated all the needed metal structures, outer body metal skins and glass window panels. The original front fenders and hood were restored, as were the seat frames and window regulators and the graceful spiral staircase at the rear of the bus that lead to the 2nd level of seating on the open roof.
As the project progressed, early visitors joked that it looked like we were building the Ark. The ribbed structure was made from wood and did resemble a large boat.
Then as the structure rose higher from the chassis, people started making jokes that it was bigger than the doors on the building, but we knew better and when no one was looking we double checked the measurements…. Two inches to spare, just as planned.
The finished project was on time, in budget and beautiful. The interior walls, floor, ceiling and dash are all stained White Oak with gloss finish. Original milk glass globe lights run the length of each side and brass poles stand from floor to ceiling with black leatherette padded seating. As a special treat to really take you back in time, we found advertisements from the 1920s and reproduced them to fit in to the signboard space that ran down each side of the ceiling. The bus company sold space in each bus to advertisers. The outside of the bus is painted with two tones of green and a light cream color. With all the additional strengthening engineered into the structure, it has performed perfectly. Taking a ride in a roof seat is an unusual and fun experience and a step back in time. The bus is kept operational at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis Missouri (phone # 314-615-8668).