April/may 1980 | Volume 31, Issue 3
The Apotheosis of the Motor Coach
Four years ago a small band of New York City executives suffered a bad shock. The Penn Central dropped (a full seventy-five years after it might have been expected to) their Southport car, a flossy private coach that bore them to their Connecticut homes behind drawn curtains, well-attended by stewards. A businesswoman named Dorothy Melford immediately stepped in with an alternative—a special bus which, she said, was “very, very luxurious, and everybody has their own swivel armchair, their own table, their own ashtray and plenty of room to stretch out.”
To be sure, that is a very elegant bus. But it is small change compared to the posh juggernauts fielded by the Pickwick Stages company which ran up and down the West Coast in the 1920’s. Built in Pickwick’s own California shops, they represented the apex of comfort and luxury in what has always been considered a plebian form of transportation. As the pictures on these and the following pages attest, for a little while the traditionally egalitarian bus was able to hold its own with the Twentieth Century Limited, the Ile de France , and other vanished icons of mobile splendor.