GM New Look bus

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GM New Look
New York Bus Service GMDD 1502.jpg
A restored GM "New Look" bus of the former New York Bus Service
ManufacturerGMC Truck and Bus (United States)
GM Diesel Division (Canada)
Production1959-1977 (U.S.A.)
1962-1987 (Canada)[1]
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan
London, Ontario
Saint-Eustache, Quebec
Body and chassis
ClassTransit bus
Body styleMonocoque stressed-skin
EngineDetroit Diesel 6V71/8V71, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA
Transmission4 speed non-synchromesh manual, Allison VH, VS-2, V730
Wheelbase162 in (4.11 m), 235 in (5.97 m), or 285 in (7.24 m)[1]
Length29 ft (8.84 m), 35 ft (10.67 m), or 40 ft (12.19 m)
Width96 in (2.44 m) or 102 in (2.59 m)
Height121 in (3.07 m)
(height over roof hatches)[1]
PredecessorGM/Yellow Coach "old look"
SuccessorGM RTS II, GM Classic
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GM New Look
New York Bus Service GMDD 1502.jpg
A restored GM "New Look" bus of the former New York Bus Service
ManufacturerGMC Truck and Bus (United States)
GM Diesel Division (Canada)
Production1959-1977 (U.S.A.)
1962-1987 (Canada)[1]
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan
London, Ontario
Saint-Eustache, Quebec
Body and chassis
ClassTransit bus
Body styleMonocoque stressed-skin
EngineDetroit Diesel 6V71/8V71, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA
Transmission4 speed non-synchromesh manual, Allison VH, VS-2, V730
Wheelbase162 in (4.11 m), 235 in (5.97 m), or 285 in (7.24 m)[1]
Length29 ft (8.84 m), 35 ft (10.67 m), or 40 ft (12.19 m)
Width96 in (2.44 m) or 102 in (2.59 m)
Height121 in (3.07 m)
(height over roof hatches)[1]
PredecessorGM/Yellow Coach "old look"
SuccessorGM RTS II, GM Classic

The GM New Look bus, also commonly known by the nickname "Fishbowl" (for its six-piece rounded windshield), is a transit bus introduced in 1959 by General Motors and produced until 1987.[2] More than 44,000 New Look buses were built. Its high production figures and long service career made it an iconic North American transit bus. The design is listed as U.S. Patent D182,998 by Roland E. Gegoux and William P. Strong.

Production overview[edit]

44,484 New Look buses were built over the production lifespan, of which 33,413 were built in the U.S. and 11,071 were built in Canada (GM Diesel Division). Separated by general type, the production figures comprised 510 29-foot (8.84 m) city buses (all U.S.-built); 9,355 35-foot (10.67 m) city buses (7,804 U.S.-built, 1,551 Canadian); 31,348 40-foot (12.19 m) city buses (22,034 U.S., 9,314 Canadian) and 3,271 suburban coaches (of which only 206 were built in Canada).[1] The total production of New Looks was 41,213 transit coaches and 3,271 suburban coaches.[1]

Other than demonstrators, the very first fishbowls delivered were TDH-5301s built in 1959 for O. Roy Chalk's D.C. Transit System,[3] which operated in Washington, D.C., and the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.

Several different models were introduced over the following years, and modifications made to the design. See the section below, headed "Description".

Production of the New Look in the U.S. ceased in 1977,[1] when it was replaced by the RTS transit bus. Production continued after this, however, at General Motors Diesel Division in Canada, due to the RTS design being rejected by Canadian transit agencies, with the name plate changing from "GM" to "GMC". Few were produced after 1983 due to the GMDD's introduction of the Classic in that year. The last New Looks were ordered by Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines (now Big Blue Bus) of Santa Monica, California in 1986.[2] The completion of that order brought a final end to New Look production in April 1987.[2][4] A few transit systems are still operating them to this day (including Calgary Transit), over 50 years after introduction and over 25 years after mass production ended. The last American-built New Look GM buses were ordered by the city of Wausau, Wisconsin, which placed an order for twelve 35-foot (10.67 m) transit buses, model T6H-4523N, the last of which was delivered in March 1977.[citation needed]

The GM Buffalo bus, a group of intercity bus models built between 1966 and 1980, shared many mechanical and body parts with the fishbowl models, and were discontinued by the Pontiac, Michigan plant shortly after the RTS replaced fishbowl model production there.

GM later sold the rights to produce both Classic and RTS models to other manufacturers, and exited the heavy-duty transit and intercity markets for full-sized buses, although production of some medium-duty and light-duty chassis products sold in these markets continued.


Like GM's over-the-road buses, including the Greyhound Scenicruiser, the air-sprung New Look did not have a traditional ladder frame. Instead it used an airplane-like stressed-skin construction in which an aluminum riveted skin supported the weight of the bus. The wooden floor kept the bus' shape. The engine cradle was hung off the back of the roof. As a result, the GM New Look weighed significantly less than competitors' city buses.

Virtually all New Look buses were powered by Detroit Diesel 71-series two-cycle Diesel engines. The original engine was the 6V71 (V6). GM buses used a unique "Angle-drive" configuration with a transverse mounted engine. The transmission angled off at a 45-or-so degree angle to connect to the rear axle. The engines were canted backwards for maintenance access; in fact, the only parts not accessible from outside the bus were the right-hand exhaust manifold and the starter. The entire engine-transmission-radiator assembly was mounted on a cradle that could be quickly removed and replaced, allowing the bus to return to service with minimal delay when the powertrain required major maintenance. Originally, all New Looks were powered by the 6V-71. GM resisted V8 power but eventually gave in to pressure from customers.

(The exception to the above was the 29-foot (8.84 m) TDH-3301, which was powered by the GMC DH-478 Toroflow four-stroke V6, and had a more conventional T-drive transmission.)

Original transmission choices were a four-speed non-synchronized manual transmission with solenoid reverse and the Allison Automatic VH hydraulic transmission. The latter was essentially a one-speed automatic transmission which drove the wheels through a torque converter. At sufficient speed a clutch bypassed the torque converter and the engine drove the rear wheels directly. A later option was the VS-2, similar to the VH but with a two-speed planetary gearset with three modes: Hydraulic, direct (1:1), and direct-overdrive. The very last batch of American-built New Looks and most Canadian-built New Looks from 1977 through 1987 use the Allison V730 transmission, a traditional three-speed automatic with a lockup torque converter. These four transmissions were the only V-drive transmissions made.

New Looks were available in both Transit and Suburban versions. Transits were traditional city buses with two doors; Suburbans had forward-facing seats (four-abreast), underfloor luggage bays, and had only one door. The center aisle of the Suburbans was lower than the floor beneath the seats, to accommodate the luggage bays. There were also "Suburban-style" transits which had forward-facing seats on slightly raised platforms that gave the appearance of a dropped center aisle. GM refused to install lavatories on its buses; at least one transit authority Sacramento Transit Authority in Sacramento, California added its own.

The New Look was built in 30 ft (9.14 m), 35 ft (10.67 m) and 40 ft (12.19 m) lengths and 96 and 102 in (2.44 and 2.59 m) widths. 35 and 40 ft (10.67 and 12.19 m) buses had different-length side windows, so the profiles of both buses looked very similar, but not the same.

Variants based on the New Look[edit]

Brown Boveri trolleybus number 192.

In 1981–82, Brown Boveri & Company constructed 100 model HR150G trolley buses from 40-foot (12.19 m) New Look bus shells for the Edmonton Transit System. Some of these buses remained in use for 27 years, until the Edmonton trolley bus system was shut down in 2009.

A 60-foot (18.29 m) articulated version was designed and built in 1982 for a Government of Ontario demonstration project, but used a Classic front end on the New Look body, and for that reason this model is sometimes not described as being a New Look and is not included in New Look production figures.[5] Series production took place in 1982–1983, and a total of only 53 were built.[5] With a newer front (to allow a wider entrance) and older body, these buses, which were model TA60-102N (for Transit Articulated 60 feet long × 102 inches wide No air conditioning), were a transitional model. Unlike most other articulated buses with an engine in the front section and a powered middle axle, the TA60-102N utilized a "pusher" design that used a conventional New Look drive train and a specially-designed articulated joint that limited the angle between the two section to 7° at normal speeds (while traveling straight forward) and to less than 2° at highway speeds.[6]

Model naming[edit]

The model naming for the GM New Look bus is shown below. Examples of model names are TDH-5301, T8H-5305N, T6H-5307N, S6H-4504A, and T6H-4521N. (Note that not all possible combinations were constructed.) The front end of the bus remained essentially the same through the production of the New Look.

TypeEngineTransmissionNominal seating capacitySeriesAir conditioning
T = transit bus
S = suburban bus
1st & 2nd generation
D = diesel
G = gasoline

3rd & 4th generation
6 = Detroit Diesel 6V71
6 = Detroit Diesel 6V92TA1
8 = Detroit Diesel 8V712

H = hydraulic (automatic) transmission
M = manual transmission
 - 33 = 29 feet (8.84 m)3
45 = 35 feet (10.67 m)
53 = 40 feet (12.19 m)
  • Two digits.
A = Air conditioning
N = No air conditioning
  • "N" omitted for 1st & 2nd generation
  1. The Detroit Diesel 6V92TA was available on 40-foot (12.19 m) buses as an alternative to the Detroit Diesel 6V71 and 8V71.
  2. Only 40-foot (12.19 m) buses were available with an 8V71 engine.
  3. The 33 passenger model was not offered in a Suburban version.

First generation (1959–1962)[edit]

  • Tail lights were housed in streamlined nacelles modeled after afterburners.
  • Side roof signals were in geometric chrome strips.
  • "GM" logo was on a plaque with a black background.
  • In the first year of production, buses were built with pantograph wipers instead of single arm wipers.
(TDH-5301 shown)
  • 4516: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 4517: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5301: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 5302: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
NYC Transit Authority GMC TDH-5301 1059.jpg
  • 4501: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5301: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)

Second generation (1963–1967)[edit]

  • Tail light nacelles were removed.
  • Side roof signals were placed in small bullet-pods.
(TDH-4519 shown)
  • 4518: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 4519: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5303: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 5304: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
Ex-Rose City Transit bus, Tri-Met 575, in 1985.jpg
  • 4502: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5302: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)

Third generation (1968–1971)[edit]

  • Tail lights were enlarged and given less flair. Because of new FMCSA regulations, three roof head and tail lights, commonly called "Michigan markers", were added as standard equipment (they had been optional on first- and second-generation New Looks). First-generation New Looks had these lights installed in a roof-mounted bracket, called "Manhattan style"; thereafter each light was mounted directly on roof.
  • Third clearance light added at top centre on either side, previously only at top corners. Bullet-pods of second-generation New Looks were eliminated.
  • Alternator-based electrical system introduced; previous generations used DC generators.
  • Slight update of driver's instrument panel: Voltmeter replaced previous generator warning light; separate left and right turn signal indicators replaced previous single DIR. SIGNAL light.
  • The logo was changed to "GMC" over a silver background.
  • The GM 8V71 engine became an option on 40-foot buses.
  • From this point on, only the 40 ft (12.19 m) transit model would be available in a 102 in (2.59 m) width.
(S8M-5303A shown)
  • 3301: 29 ft (8.84 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 4521: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5305: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 5306: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
Suburban-type GM New Look bus - Pittsburgh, 1984.jpg
  • 4503: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5303: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)

Fourth generation (1972-1977 USA and Canada, 1972-1987 Canada)[edit]

  • Same front as the third generation.
  • For units built for American operators, the exhaust system was shifted from below the bus to the left of the rear window. Also used by Canadian operators; called Envoronmental Improvement Package.
  • A ventilation system on the right of the rear window became a popular option.
  • Roof ventilation/escape hatches introduced as an option from 1974, also very popular.
  • NEXT STOP lights introduced 1976-77; allows bell to ring only once for each stop.
  • Starting in 1981, the 6V92TA engine became an engine option for the 5307 transit and 5304 suburban model.
  • 5309 and 5310 were developed for the New York City Transit Authority, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority & Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority as a variant of the 5307.
(T6H-5307N shown)
  • 3302: 29 ft (8.84 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)1
  • 4523: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5307: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)
  • 5308: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5309: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)2
  • 5310: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 102 in (2.59 m)2
Bus with skyline.jpg
  • 4504: 35 ft (10.67 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  • 5304: 40 ft (12.19 m) × 96 in (2.44 m)
  1. The 3302 ceased production in 1973.
  2. The 5309 & 5310 were sold only to the New York MTA in 1972-73. The 5309 had perimeter seating, while the 5310 had forward-facing suburban seating. They were assigned to MABSTOA, MSBA, NYCTA, and one 5310 police bus by the NYPD.

Manufacturing location was indicated by the serial number. No prefix was used for Pontiac, Michigan, C (Canada) indicated London, Ontario, and M (Montreal) Saint-Eustache, Quebec. All buses with 17-digit VINs were built in Saint-Eustache.

Production figures by model[edit]

Production totals are through August 1980, when serial numbers changed to 17-digit Vehicle Identification Numbers.[7][8]


T6H-4523A/T6H-4523N12,5621971-1977537 + 95M1972-1980
T6H-5307A/T6H-5307N24461972-19762,444 + 2,006M1972-1980
T8H-5307A3,1311971-197762 + 77M1973-1980
All Canadian figures are for London, Ontario, except for totals marked "M".
  1. No T6H-4523As were built in Canada.
  2. No T6H-5307As were built in Canada.
  3. Only one T6H-5308N was built in the USA.
    (for Martucci Bus Company of West Orange, NJ)
  4. No T6H-5308As were built in Canada.
  5. No T8H-5308Ns were built.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stauss, Ed (1988). The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses, pp. 29-30 and 94-101. Woodland Hills, CA (USA): Stauss Publications. ISBN 0-9619830-0-0.
  2. ^ a b c Stauss (1988), p. 30.
  3. ^ Semendinger, David H.; and Robert E. Sauer, Jr. (July–September 2003). "D. C. Transit System" [history of]. Motor Coach Age, p. 9. ISSN 0739-117X.
  4. ^ Motor Coach Today, Vol. 5, No. 1 (January–March 1998), p. 9. Motor Bus Society.
  5. ^ a b Stauss (1988), p. 33.
  6. ^ The Articulated Bus, Toronto: Toronto Transit Commission, November 1982, p. 4 
  7. ^ "GM New Look U.S. Production Lists". Coach Manufacturer Production Lists. The Ohio Museum of Transportation. November 15, 2006 (date of last revision). Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ Alan Gryfe (August 2, 2000). "General Motors Diesel Division Bus Models & Deliveries". Retrieved September 17, 2012. 


External links[edit]