A Friendly Reminder That Public Transportation Used To Be Cool
This is the 1956 Viberti Golden Dolphin, a gas turbine-powered, high-speed touring coach that was capable of 125 mph. Designed and built in Italy (where else?), its 400 horsepower, torpedo-like shape, and massive greenhouse made from acrylic glass (we now call it Plexiglass) must have looked like a low-flying UFO when on test runs.
Except that it likely never made a test run, remaining only a fanciful mock-up. Where is it today? Nobody knows.
While the Golden Dolphin never got to swim with Autostrada traffic, it’s far from the most extreme example of public transportation. Like cars, busses, trucks, and other machinery were also given the carrozzeria treatment, and the fitment of bodywork to support a specific need was very common.
Zagato designed cabs for Isotta-Fraschini trucks, Alfa Romeo commercial vehicles often wore elegant bodywork, and every commercial vehicle manufacturer from Bedford to Mercedes-Benz has a back catalogue filled with sleek, stylish busses that would—in my humble opinion—encourage more people to use public transit today.
That said, there is one bus that deserves special mention for being completely insane in every way: the incredible Currus-rebodied Citroën U55s (yes, more than one was made) that did duty for Groupe Cityrama as Parisian tour busses.
Have you had the pleasure of traveling in a beautiful, classic bus?