Simanaitis Says

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LEAVE THE DRIVING TO THEM

“GO GREYHOUND AND leave the driving to us” has been the company slogan since 1956. And, in 1969, R&T wrote, “As any Jaguar, Porsche, or Ferrari owner knows, Greyhound buses are the big silver things that come thundering past you just as you have sneaked by a Pontiac GTO.”

And, yes, it was April, 1969.

R&T publisher John R. Bond considers a travel option to the Big Apple. This and other images from R&T, April 1969.

The magazine selected an MC-7 Challenger coach for its test. By that time, Greyhound was building its own buses using components from GM’s Bus & Coach Division, its previous supplier of complete vehicles. The MC-7 was powered by a supercharged GM two-stroke diesel V-8.

Lurking behind this plumbing is 9.3 liters of supercharged diesel two-stroke torque.

R&T described this “most interesting piece of machinery…. In the GM unit, two conventional valves are located in the head, and both of them are exhaust valves. When the piston reaches the bottom of its stroke, it uncovers the intake ports and, at the same time, the exhaust valves are opened by a camshaft. The supercharger then blows plain air through the cylinder and out the exhaust ports.”

“In fact,” R&T continued describing the benefits of scavenging, “it blows 25 percent more air through than the cylinder can hold, which means that not only is the cylinder scavenged completely and recharged with air, but also cooled.”

“The exhaust valves close at the proper time, the remaining air is compressed, and when the piston reaches the top of its stroke, the fuel injector delivers the correct amount of fuel at the correct time and the power stroke begins.”

Resulting are 770 lb-ft of torque at 1200 rpm, 285 hp at 2150 rpm, and an average fuel consumption of 6.0 mpg. No problem with this last one, because the MC-7 carries 144 gallons of diesel fuel.

R&T calculated a Cruising Range of 862 miles, though I suspect no Greyhound driver would trust a two-mile margin of error.

Back in those days, driver skill was required in working through a manual four-speed nonsyncho gearbox. R&T Contributing Editor (in time Editor-in-Chief) Tony Hogg asked about this archaic transmission and was offered two reasons: “The first is that any automatic devices are impossible when fuel economy is a major concern, and the second is that Greyhound gets long clutch life with a four-speed because the driver must start in the 4:30:1 first gear and hence can’t abuse the clutch.”

A Greyhound rep dressed for the occasion, though R&T observed of its drivers, “Their uniform is, sartorially, somewhere between an Ozark Airlines First Officer and a California State Trooper.”

What’s it like to drive? Hogg wrote, “Taking your place in the driver’s seat of the MC-7, … you never again want to go back to the sort of semi-lounging position offered by most cars today.”

“Instrumentation,” he wrote, “is quite simple, consisting of a speedometer, air pressure gauge for the brakes, and oil pressure and water temperature gauges… Unlike the Boeing 707, the Greyhound MC-7 does not confuse the driver with too many facts….”

Pacing a Greyhound: “Greyhound swears that all its buses are governed to 65 mph, but ….”

“Because of the lack of acceleration, there is only one way to drive a Greyhound,” Hogg wrote, “and this is flat out all the time. This is not too difficult provided you plan your moves well in advance and do a lot of lane swapping. The high driving position combined with superb visibility make the job much easier….”

R&T Editor James T. Crow enjoys favorite reading. “One is disarmed, however,” R&T observed in 1969, “at the total lack of seat belts.” Since 2009, all Greyhounds carry three-point belts all around.

“Roadholding is remarkably good,” Hogg wrote. “I remember once while riding an Express from New York City to Buzzard’s Bay, Mass., we passed a Ferrari (Type 250 GT Lusso, I think) on the outside of a turn. I would have raised a cheer but didn’t want to wake up the other passengers.”

Tony Hogg, rest his soul, was a gentleman. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

One comment on “LEAVE THE DRIVING TO THEM

  1. MikeB
    September 24, 2019

    Some of the later MCI’s were actually governed, and the current Greyhounds (though not most charter buses!) also seem to be governed based on their freeway behavior. Commuter-special MCIs my transit line had in the 1980s were hated by the drivers because they were solidly governed at 60 (55 speed limit era). Bad for getting downhill runs for the next uphill on a route with rolling terrain.

    The line also kept a few stick-shift, shorty Challengers for a mountain run with a lot of grades and curves. They were assigned to specific drivers who knew how to handle them, and they did – even in stop and go commute traffic (think of doing that with a 4-speed crashbox!). They might have been inherited from Greyhound, whose commute routes they took over (complete with drivers) in the late 1970s.

    Greyhound was so into stick shifts that when they got new GM “fishbowl” models for commute service in the Bay Area in the 1960s, they ordered stick shift while every other transit line went for automatics. Amusingly, some ended up at a privately operated commute bus operation from Solano County in the mid-1980s that called themselves the Fairfield Area Rapid Transit – motto on the destination sign “Got gas pains? Try …”

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