1972 MCI MC-7 (Build #9520, Fleet #805)

Australia’s first 40 foot coach - setting a new benchmark for the 1970s

1972 MCI MC7 bus, Yarra Glen VIC, Photo taken November 2018

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The Story

Harry Zoltok founded Fort Garry Motor Body and Paint Works in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1932. In 1941 the name was changed to MCI (Motor Coach Industries) and in 1948, Western Canadian Greyhound, a subsidiary of Greyhound Corporation USA bought shares in MCI leading to full ownership by Greyhound in 1958. Today and for many decades, MCI has been the largest selling coach builder in North America and MCI’s current owner, New Flyer, is the largest selling transit bus builder in North America.

MCI’s ‘MC’ series of coaches, dates back to 1959 when MCI introduced the MC-1 Challenger, a two axle 35 foot coach with a rear mounted GM 4-71 diesel engine. The 1963 MC-5 model was the first MCI to be exported in quantity to Greyhound in the USA. The MC-7 Challenger was the first 3 axle 40 foot coach made by MCI, predating the MC-6. MCI built 2550 MC-7s between 1968 and 1973.

MCI MC7 bus brochure cover and pages from the Late 1960s
Late 1960s MCI MC7 brochure cover and pages

Ansett Pioneer placed an order for an initial batch of 10 MC-7s, when it was denied bringing 40 foot versions of the GM PD 4107 into Australia because of non-compliant dimensions. Australian vehicle length laws were however, able to be increased for the MC-7 and it became the first 40 foot coach to operate in Australia. The MC-7 was later followed by 29 MC-8s and 15 MC-9s.

MCI MC7 bus on trailer ready for shipping to Ansair in Melbourne
MC7 ready for shipping to Ansair in Melbourne for conversion to right hand drive
MCI MC7 bus, 1972 version, during LHD to RHD conversion by Ansair, Melbourne, Australia
1972 MCI MC7 during LHD to RHD conversion by Ansair, Melbourne VIC Australia
MCI MC7 bus, 1972 version, with newly completed right hand drive conversion
1972 MCI MC7 with newly completed RHD conversion

In a bid to increase loads and carrying capacity on services operating across Australia from the east coast to Perth on the west coast, Ansett Pioneer endeavoured to introduce larger second hand ex Greyhound USA, 40 foot GM PD 4501 Scenicruisers, at the same time as the MC-7s. Because of poor conditions on the main cross continent road to Perth, it was deemed inappropriate to use new 40 foot MC-7s, hence the application to utilize large, proven ex Greyhound USA flagship coaches. But it was to no avail, as the dimensions of the Greyhound Scenicruiser, had the same non-compliance issues as the regular 40 foot GMs.

Case for the operation of 40ft long coaches in Australia
Extract from the document 'Case for the operation of 40ft long coaches in Australia', prepared by Ansett Pioneer circa 1968
MCI MC7 parts coach, Glenhenry Tours livery, Photo taken January 2017
1972 MCI MC7 parts coach, fleet #801 ex Rob Duke, ex Glenhenry Tours, Gembrook VIC, January 2017

Ansett Pioneer sold fleet #805 MC-7 to Macquarie Towns Bus Service in 1985 and sometime later it passed to Eastside Coaches, Sydney NSW. Driver Classics acquired MC7 #805 from Eastside Coaches in 1994 for restoration. A second 1972 MCI MC7 (Build #9516, Pioneer fleet #801) ex Glenhenry Tours and the first MCI to arrive in Australia, was purchased from Rob Duke, Gembrook VIC in October 2017 for parts.

The MC-7 is powered by a GM Detroit Diesel V8 2 stroke engine, 568ci model 8V71, rear mounted in-line, with a 4 speed Spicer constant mesh transmission.