1961
GM PD-4106 (Build #623, Fleet# 623)

Arguably the most influential coach ever to operate in Australia


GM PD-4106 bus, 1961 version, front and side, Photo taken February 2020

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The Story

The GM PD-4106 was arguably the most influential coach ever to operate in Australia. Building on the success of the Flxible Clipper, the PD-4106 raised the bar to an unprecedented level and set a new benchmark for the entire industry in Australia to follow.

Early 1960s GM PD-4106 bus brochure cover
Early 1960s GM PD-4106 brochure cover

The PD-4106 introduced many significant firsts to Australia - powerful rear mounted GM diesel engine, air conditioning, air suspension, tinted windows, large underfloor luggage capacity, restroom, a new increased length to 35 feet and incredible durability and reliability. The PD-4106, along with its successor model the PD 4107, also inspired a young Alan Denning to build a simpler Australian version at a reasonable price that revolutionised the entire Australian coach industry…the GM Denning Mono.

GM built 3,226 PD-4106’s at GM Truck and Coach in Pontiac, Michigan, USA with 43 destined for Australia, 35 new and 8 ex Greyhound USA.

Illustration of the Ansair-GM bus, a potential Australian produced version of the GM PD-4106
Illustration of the ‘not to be’ Ansair-GM, a potential Australian produced version of the GM PD-4106

Before the importation of the first GM PD-4106s into Australia, Ansair - the bus building division of Ansett Transport Industries, had discussions with General Motors about manufacturing the PD-4106 in Australia, in a similar manner to how Ansair built the Flxible Clipper under license to the Flxible Corporation, Ohio USA. Both Ansair and GM ultimately agreed on full importation of the PD-4106 after currency restrictions were lifted in 1961.

GM PD-4106 bus, early 1960s version, being unloaded at Melbourne Docks
Early 1960s GM PD-4106 being unloaded at Melbourne Docks
General Motors PD-4106 bus, conversion to right hand drive (RHD) by Ansair in Melbourne, VIC Australia, early 1960s
Early 1960s GM PD-4106 conversion to right hand drive (RHD) by Ansair in Melbourne, VIC Australia. Left side picture shows a PD-4106 in LHD with right side door and the right side picture shows the new RHD configuration

Built in August 1961 for Ansett Pioneer, then imported into Australia and converted to RHD by Ansair in Melbourne, our PD-4106, fleet # 623, was first registered in Melbourne in January 1962. After years of reliable service over millions of miles, with 3 different paint schemes and various work duties spanning long distance express, tours, charter and school work, Ansett Pioneer sold this PD-4106 to McCafferty’s Coaches , Toowoomba, QLD. From there it went to Dunkley’s in Brisbane, QLD and finally to Les Bishop in Lexton, Victoria. Les spent over 10 years painstakingly restoring the GM in his shed in preparation for it to become a motorhome, until he had a change of heart.

Pioneer advertising, circa early 1960s and Pioneer Express timetable from 1965. Both featuring GM PD-4106 bus.
Left: Pioneer advertising, circa early 1960s. Right: Pioneer Express timetable from 1965

Although the coach had no interior, Driver Classics purchased the GM from Les in 2015, along with another GM, the ex Turnbull, Mt Gambier PD-4106 #3163 as a parts coach, and continued the restoration, but now to become a seated coach.

To bring the PD-4106 back to a seated coach required the sourcing of many interior fittings. Using our parts coach, PD-4106 #3163, and with assistance from the Ansett Museum’s PD-4106 #1225 in Hamilton, Victoria, PD-4106 #623 is once again a fully seated coach with original fittings.

The GM PD-4106 is powered by a GM V8 2 stroke diesel engine, 568ci model 8V71, transversely rear mounted, with a 4 speed Spicer angle drive constant mesh transmission. The model designation PD-4106 stands for P - Parlour Coach, D - Diesel, 41 - 41 seats and the series, and 06 - the sixth model in the 41 seat series.