1976 MCI MC-8 (Build #11964, Fleet #822)

A refined update of the rugged MC7

MCI MC8 bus (1976 model), with MCI MC7 bus. Photo taken at Lancefield in February 2022

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The Story

The MCI (Motor Coach Industries) MC-8 ‘Crusader’ was an updated version of the very successful MC-7, the first 40 foot coach to operate in Australia.

There were 4,475 MC-8s built between 1973 and 1978 by Motor Coach Industries in Pembina, North Dakota USA and Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.

When Ansett Pioneer ordered the MC-7s from MCI, they placed an initial order of ten with more to follow. The MC-8 had replaced the MC-7 by the time the additional vehicles were required, so Ansett Pioneer then ordered a total of 29 MC-8s that were delivered between June 1974 and February 1977.

Pioneer had intended to order 30 MC8s but after taking over the Broken Hill - Sydney service where an RFW coach was inherited, the order was amended to 29. The first 5 (#811-815) were converted to right hand drive (RHD) by Ansair in Melbourne with Ansair also making the seats. The next 15 (#816-830) were converted to RHD by Blitz in Chicago USA and it is believed they were delivered with seats. The remaining 9 (#831-839) were built RHD by MCI, the last 4 of the 9 being built without restrooms for Ansett Pioneer Tours touring program.

The MC-8 was a modernised version of the MC-7. The ruggedness of the MC-7 had given way to an MC-8 with a smooth, more refined design that simply did its job as intended with the utmost reliability.

There were obvious design differences with the MC-8…the roof window of the MC-7 was gone and replaced with a low raised deck design, the destination sign above the windscreen was also gone, the header/marker lights were flush with the body and the overall shape was smoother with less fluting used on the exterior panels.

Early Ansett Pioneer MC8s had a very similar paint scheme to their MC7s but featured a new, dramatic black window look.

MCI MC8 bus, 1973 version, Brochure Cover
1973 MCI MC8 brochure cover

The MC-8’s new black window sash combined with the next generation paint scheme, the ‘Pepsi’ red, white and blue, was impressive to say the least. It inspired a new trend of ‘black windows’ in Australia. As with previous Ansett Pioneer liveries, the new ‘Pepsi’ paint scheme was based on a Greyhound USA design.

Ansett Pioneer Express timetables from 1978 and 1980 featuring MCI MC8 bus.
Ansett Pioneer Express timetables from 1978 and 1980

Ansett Pioneer used the MC-8 primarily as a flagship long distance intercity express coach until the arrival of the MC-9s in 1984 and the Denning Landseers in 1985. Some MC-8s were also used in Ansett Pioneer’s tour program.

Our MC-8, fleet # 2PC822, was purchased new by Ansett Pioneer in April 1976. Ansett Pioneer sold the MC-8 to Grenda’s Bus Services, Dandenong VIC and it then went to Stuart Douglas, Langwarrin VIC to operate West Coast tours from Melbourne and sometime later it was acquired by Rob Duke in Gembrook, VIC to be converted to a motor home. When Driver Classics located the MC-8, Rob had been working on the exterior and mechanicals and was about to gut the interior for the motorhome conversion.

MCI MC8 bus (1976 Model) as found, June 2016
1976 MCI MC8 as found, Gembrook VIC, June 2016

Driver Classics tried to purchase the MC-8 from Rob, but he was only interested in selling if we could find another MCI that would be suitable for him to make into a motorhome. We located a good condition MC-9 with a gutted interior in Brisbane, QLD that was perfect for Rob’s use. In October 2017, Driver Classics purchased the MC-9, had it trucked to Melbourne and traded it for Rob’s still seated MC-8! We believe it was the last seated MC-8 coach that remained in Australia.

MCI MC9 Bus (1984 version)
1984 MCI MC9 #39336 (fleet # 2PC854) that was traded for the MC8

The MC-8 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.