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Mack (Beck) Inter-City Buses


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In September 1956, Mack Trucks purchased bus manufacturer C.D. Beck of Sidney, Ohio with the intention of re-entering the inter-city bus business. Mack had dropped out of the inter-city bus market during the 1930’s to focus on the transit bus market (The conventional style Mack model BK inter-city bus sold to Greyhound Lines and others had been discontinued in 1934).

Mack expanded the Sidney plant in 1957, tripling the floor space to 200,000 square feet with the plan of moving some bus and fire apparatus production from Allentown.

From 1956 through 1958, Mack produced model 92-G and 97-D inter-city motorcoaches at Beck.

Had Greyhound placed orders for the Mack MV620, the motorcoaches would have been built at Mack’s Beck facility. However, resulting from Greyhound’s decision not to purchase the MV620 (because the government decided to allow Greyhound to buy MCI), Mack announced in December 1958 its intention to close the Beck division. The Mack Fire Apparatus Division, which had been transferred to Sidney in 1957, returned to Allentown in 1959.

After failing to secure orders from Greyhound for the MV620, Mack provided a 97-D demonstrator to Greyhound for testing.

Note 1: The 97-D was designed by Beck engineer Donald Manning. After Mack closed Beck, Manning became the head bus engineer for General Motors and designed the RTX and RTS ll.

Note 2: Although Mack purchased Beck as a means of getting back into the inter-city bus business, the company actually benefited more in the fire apparatus segment. Beck had begun producing Ahrens-Fox fire apparatus in 1953, first under contract and later as sole owner and producer from 1956. A few months ahead of the Mack purchase, Beck introduced the revolutionary new cab-forward design Ahrens-Fox ECB (open cab) and FCB (enclosed cab). Mack’s legendary C-85, C-95 and C-125 fire apparatus were directly based on these models, re-engineered with a Mack drivetrain.

Note 3: In late 1959, Mack sold the Beck property to the Westinghouse Air Brake Company for its LeROI division, where it remains to this day. Recall that the first production version of the U.S. Army’s massive Mack 10-ton M123 6x6 tractors for tank transport, introduced in 1955, were powered by 844 cubic inch 286 horsepower LeROI T-H844 gasoline engines. With an unmistakable throbbing resonance, it was the only V-8 in use by the military at that time.

Mack 97-D customers

2 - Schenectady Transportation Corp. (NY) Note: serial 1002 sold in 1964 to Citizens Rapid Transit (#999)
1 - Clyde's Charter Service (MD) Note: serial 1004 sold in 1964 to Citizens Rapid Transit (#998)
6 - Atwood's Gold Line (Washington, DC)

1 - Kerrville Bus Co. (TX)
2 - Rawding Gray Line (Boston)
2 - Boro Buses (NJ)
2 - Colorado Springs Coach Co.
3 - Denver-Boulder Bus Co.
3 - Colorado Transportation

1 - Lincoln Bus Lines (Hanover, PA) Note: 1) This was the only 97-D with a factory-installed lavatory.

2) Mack leased Lincoln’s 97-D for a time and used it as a demonstrator to Greyhound.

3) Lincoln made runs with the bus to Alaska on the mostly gravel ALCAN highway (with a spare windshield aboard).

1 - Transportes del Norte (Mexico)
1 - Rochester Motor Coach (PA)

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Mack Enters Intercity Bus Making Field

Bus Transportation / October, 1956

A new bus making manufacturing giant was created last month with the announcement that Mack Trucks, Inc., has purchased the intercity bus manufacturing firm of C. D. Beck & Co.

Long restricting its bus manufacturing to local transit-type buses, Mack embarked on this venture, said President P. O. Peterson, to be able to “Compete for additional bus travel business” sure to come with the advent of the superhighway and toll roads.

Transit buses have been Mack's mainstay ever since it first started building buses . . . This new merger removes another manufacturer from the bus making scene, but in the long pull the purchase will benefit…

No sooner was news of the purchase announced than Greyhound, one of the largest customers for intercity buses, let it be known at the convention of the National Association of Motor Bus Operators that it had ordered 34 new buses from Mack. Beck, one of the smaller manufacturing firms which pioneered many of the innovations that have since become standard, will be operated as a division of Mack.

Peterson said that Mack will begin producing intercity buses immediately through the facilities of the Beck plant at Sidney, Ohio. However the 34 vehicles ordered by Greyhound will not be intercity vehicles, but will be Mack C-59 models, transit-type buses costing $23,019 each.

These new buses will go to Pacific Greyhound, which has extensive commuter operations in the San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., area, and to Richmond Greyhound Lines. Pacific Greyhound will receive 30 buses. Richmond, four. Greyhound has long been a customer of General Motors ... in fact, was named a co-conspirator in the government's anti-trust suit against GM. This new order, according to Greyhound boss Arthur S. Genet, “would, in the past, have gone to General Motors. However, Greyhound is currently preparing a "multi-million dollar suit against GM for alleged failures in Scenicruiser buses.

In addition to the bus manufacturing facilities of the Beck company, Mack also acquired the C.D. Beck Realty Co., and also a large plot of land adjacent to the Beck Plant. The latter purchase, said Peterson, will permit future expansion of facilities.

At the helm of the new division will be H. R. Fouss as manager. He is presently general manager of the Beck firm. C. D. Beck & Co. was organized in 1931 and has specialized in over-the-road buses, just the reverse of the Mack company. It pioneered the modern-day deck-and-a-half bus, a vehicle which became better known to the general public through Greyhound’s Scenicruiser, manufactured by General Motors. Only last year Beck unveiled its semi deck-and-a-half bus, lighter in weight, a little less deluxe and a less costly version of the Scenicruiser.”

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