About our Coaches
The photo above is an enlarged section of a 1970 Gray Line Tour brochure, lower on the this page you'll find the complete original brochure.
1969 GMC Coach Model S8M5303A, our number 373, is a 1969 GMC model 5303 that was the last of an order delivered to Gray Lines in Los Angeles in April of 1969 as Gray Lines 5303. It joined 5301 & 5302 in service traveling to Disneyland, tours of the Hollywood stars homes and other tour duties.
After a long distinguished service at Gray Lines, 5303 was purchased by Fun Bus a tour and charter bus operation near LA. Under Fun Bus, the number 5303 was retained but the bus was painted in a "mod" color scheme (see photo on left).
When Fun Bus was downsizing, 5303 escaped the fate of many similar coaches that were being converted to motor homes or sold for scrap because of a high aluminum content. Loren Joplin of Perris, CA, a collector General Motors New Look or Fishbowls as they are known, purchased the 5303 were in where it remained in collection for over 20 years.
ACE found 5303 and began evaluations on whether to ship the coach to Western PA for restoration or have the work done in California and drive her back. The latter won out with expertise available and parts coming from both coasts. After mechanicals were taken care of in Parris under Loren's supervision, 5303 was taken by flatbed to begin the laborious task of removing decades of old paint and begin the restoration.
Fifty year old weather stripping crumbled in workers hands as they dismantled window frames, safely removing old paint and polishing the aluminum (see photo on right) ,while Internet searches found original factory manuals listing the DuPont paint codes needed to match the "as delivered" from factory silver paint. After suffering through months of delays and issues with the painting company, it was time to work on climate controls.
S J TOOL; Ken Hook to the rescue!
ACE was referred to Ken Hook, owner of S J Tool, for getting the air-conditioning system up and running. What we didn't know was that Ken is a true expert on GMC coaches. When our representative arrived at S J Tool, Ken took vast amounts of time to explain just what he had found and then took him under his wing, educating him on virtually all aspects of the coach's systems.
After several bad experiences with other vendors on the West coast, this was the break we desperately needed Ken, with help from his son Shaun, not only worked on the air-conditioner but went over the coach from bumper to bumper, not just making repairs, but updating or improving upon what was there. Even the office manager and wife Lynn jumped in to run for parts and cleaned 30 years of dirt from the interior. With the expertise of a surgeon, systems were tested and in some cases parts made on the spot in their fully equipped machine shop. It is due to their diligent work that the cross country drive came off without a hitch.
We would like to also acknowledge Luke and the wonderful staff at US Coach & Equipment of Vinland, NJ answering our frantic calls for parts with a calm, "We'll ship it right out"!
The end result:
Other Coach history and facts about 373:
Once popular with tour and charter companies, coaches like 373 were in service from Canada to Hawaii.
The Ohio Museum of Transportation shows that 373 is one of three remaining coaches of its type in the country and the only one in charter service.
What does S8M5303A stand for? The 1st letter "S" refers to the body type, in this case Suburban, meaning it has high back seats, baggage compartments and no center door .
A "T" would have meant Transit or a city bus.
The 8 refers to the number of engine cylinders, 373 has a Detroit 8V71 diesel engine, 8 cylinders at 71 cubic inches each.
The "M" stands for the type of transmission, Manuel non-synchronized 4 speed. A letter "H" would mean Hydraulic automatic.
5303A was the designation of the body type. In the case of 373, no luggage racks overhead, just large roof windows above the 48 reclining seats.
Fuel capacity of 373 is 100 gallons.
Length 40 feet .4 inches
Width 8 feet
Height 9 feet 10 inches
Production of S8M5303s ran from 1968 to 1971 for a total number of 302 of which 88 were made in 1969
Below is a the full view 1970 Gray Line brochure that was found on EBay featuring 5301 first of the three SM85303s in the order. Note the young boy in the red shirt walking with his father that is smoking in the park!
Memorable facts and figures from the year 1969:
- Gas per Gallon .35 cents
- Alarm Clock from Westclox $9.98
- Median Household Income (current dollars): $8,389
- Unemployment: 3.6%
- Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.06
- Federal spending: $183.64 billion
- Federal debt: $365.8 billion
- The US institutes the draft lottery to determine draft into US Forces for Vietnam War
- 250,000 march on Washington in protest at the Vietnam War
- The FCC bans all cigarette advertising on television and radio.
- Children's Television Workshop introduces Sesame Street.
- Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Established
- Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon.
- The use of DDT is banned in residential areas.
- The first in vitro fertilization of a human egg is performed in Cambridge, England.
- Advanced Research Projects Agency goes “online”, connecting four major US universities. This will be the foundation upon which the Internet will eventually be built.
- Members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder five people in cold blood.
- Sen. Edward Kennedy pleads guilty to leaving scene of fatal accident at Chappaquiddick, Mass. in which Mary Jo Kopechne was drowned. He was given a two-month suspended sentence.
- More than half a million people gather in the small, upstate New York town of Bethel (near Woodstock, N.Y.) for four days of rain, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
- A Rolling Stones fan is killed at the group's Altamont, California, concert by members of Hell's Angels.
- Grammys awarded in 1969 Record of the Year: "Mrs. Robinson," Simon and Garfunkel Album of the Year: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, Glen Campbell Song of the Year: "Little Green Apples," Bobby Russell, songwriter
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ACE 465 is former San Diego Transit's 517 GM model TDH4801 was as part of a 20 bus order (511-530) delivered new to San Diego Transit Lines in 1957. After its career with San Diego Transit, 517 was sold to Yuma Bus Co. in Arizona and then to an individual living near Yuma where it sat for 18 years. It was then purchased by southern California bus collector Andy Goddard, who moved 517 to the San Diego area where it was eventually bought by Chris Stauffer. The opportunity to acquire a complete and operable GM “Old Look” as a back up reserve bus for the Niles train shuttle came in the fall of 2006 when the Pacific Bus Museum acquired 517 from Chris in October 2006.
ACE began talks in early 2015 to acquire 517 and reached agreement June 2015. While we know our friends at the Pacific Bus Museum are sad to see her go, they are excited about the memories she will bring back and the new ones created in Western Pennsylvania.
Restored to an Oriole Motor Coach Lines paint scheme, 465s inauguration was held at the Green Tree Library at 10:30 AM on March 19th 2016. Nearly 50 Oriole Motor Coach Lines employee’s family members were in attendance from as far away as Alaska, Florida, Ohio and all over Western PA. Former Oriole driver and guest of honor Joseph Krashna, along with Irene Collavo Matway, daughter of John Collavo who was the founder of Oriole cut the ribbon as Green Tree Mayor Edward Schenck looked on and 465 went into service.
Other Coach history and facts about 465:
What does TDH4801 stand for?
The 1st letter "T" refers to the body type, in this case Transit, meaning it has low back seats, used for "in city" transit .
The letter "D" refers to the engine, Diesel. 465 has a Detroit 6-71 diesel engine, 6 cylinders at 71 cubic inches each.
The "H" stands for the type of transmission, Hydraulic automatic.
4801 was the designation of the body type.
Fuel capacity of 475 is 80 gallons.
Length 37 ¾ feet
Width 8 feet 6 inches
Height 9 feet 5 inches
Production Manufactured from 1953 to 1958
Number of TDH4801s built:: 547 (All served California)
Memorable facts and figures from the year 1957:
- Gas per Gallon .24 cents
- Alarm Clock from Westclox $7.65
- Median Household Income (current dollars): $4,494
- Unemployment: 4.2%
- Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.03
- Federal spending: $81.78 billion
- Federal debt: $251.2 billion
- The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2 with first animal to enter space - a dog named Laika.
- The average car sold for $2,749.
- The Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel.
- A Launchpad explosion thwarts the first US attempt to launch a satellite (Project Vanguard).
- US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site.
- Great Britain tests first hydrogen bomb on the Christmas Island.
- First Nuclear Reactor plant opens for production of electricity in Pennsylvania.
- Ultrasound scanning pioneered in Scotland.
- Mickey Mantle hits career HR # 200.
- The popular toys were Slinkys and Hula Hoops.
- Elvis Presley purchases a mansion in Memphis, Tennessee and calls it Graceland.
- NYC ends trolley / streetcar service.
- "American Bandstand" the teenagers chart music show makes its network debut on ABC.
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