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Larry Plachno
January 31, 2023
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Greyhound’s Historical Fleet for Sale (Part 1 of 2)

Editor’s Note: This article was originally printed in the January 2023 Issue of National Bus Trader Magazine.  It has been reprinted with the permission of Larry Plachno. 

Towards the end of 2022 FlixBus decided to put most of the Greyhound historical bus fleet up for sale. Approximately a year earlier, on October 21, 2021, FlixBus had announced its acquisition of Greyhound Lines from First Group, its then current owner. First Group has extensive operations in Europe and also other holdings in the United States including First Student, the school bus operation. FlixBus has been growing in Europe in long distance bus operations. The company provides online sales and support for many lines while working with bus companies to actually operate routes and schedules.

Michaud Bus Appraisals, LLC was selected to handle the sales. Spike Michaud had been active in the well-known Michaud Bus Lines in Salem, Massachusetts. In more recent years he, assisted by his son Jim who also runs the BusesOnline.com Web site, has been active as a leader in appraising buses and working with many companies on fleet sales and valuation. Most of the historical fleet is being offered with prices set on individual coaches.

The Greyhound Historical Bus Fleet had an interesting origin back in the 1970s under the direction of Fred Dunikoski, one of the most respected and liked Greyhound leaders. Fred originally started to work for Greyhound at the age of 16 because he was too young to enlist in the military for World War II. He was employed as a clerk and typist in the dispatch office of Central Greyhound Lines in New York which was then located in a shop in Long Island City.

In 1942, Fred turned 17 and was able to enlist in the Marine Corps. He had an impressive military record starting with being assigned to the battleship Texas and participating in the Normandy invasion of Europe. Later he served in the Pacific and was involved in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After returning to civilian life, Fred returned to the Greyhound office and shop in Long Island City. He became the administrative assistant to the supervisor of drivers for both Central Greyhound Lines of New York and New England Greyhound Lines. One of Fred’s friends introduced him to his kid sister, Rita. All of them had attended the same schools on Long Island. Fred married Rita, starting a marriage that would last until his passing 64 years later.

Credit for originally creating the Greyhound Historical Fleet goes to Fred Dunikoski, one of the most loved and respected leaders at Greyhound. Faced with selling the first production Scenicruiser, Fred decided to keep it, and it became the first bus in the Historical Fleet. Fred and his wife Rita are appropriately shown here in the front seat of a Scenicruiser in 2010 at a Scenicruiser gathering in Texas. NBT.

Fred’s abilities were noted by Greyhound management and he soon began moving up the ladder. In 1949 he was promoted to dispatcher and in the early 1950s he was dispatching for Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines and working at the Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines station on 34th Street in Manhattan. What may have started his interest in historical buses came in 1954 when the first Scenicruisers arrived at Greyhound. Fred was the dispatcher on duty for the first Scenicruiser dispatched by Greyhound, a run from New York City to Miami. The bus was Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines P-5446 which carried serial number PD4501-001, the first production Scenicruiser.

In the following years Fred continued to move up the Greyhound ladder and into corporate management. In September of 1956, Fred became superintendent and terminal manager at Albany, New York. October of 1969 found Fred at Greyhound headquarters in Chicago with the title of system-wide director of transportation for Greyhound Lines. A meeting shortly after his arrival in Chicago set the stage for developments that would lead to the historical fleet.

Credit for originally creating the Greyhound Historical Fleet goes to Fred Dunikoski, one of the most loved and respected leader at Greyhound.

Fred was called into the office of Chairman of the Board G. Trautman and President of the corporation Ray Shaffer. As someone who had come up through the ranks, Fred was asked what he thought was needed to improve the bus line. Fred suggested that the fleet was too old and the company should be buying 400 new buses each year instead of only 200. At that time the company was selling about 200 used buses annually. Fred was challenged that if he could increase used bus sales to 400 per year, the company would then buy 400 new coaches. Fred accepted that challenge, put in a toll-free phone line, got an advertising budget and amazed everyone by selling 416 buses.

In May of 1970, Fred was upgraded to system wide vice president for transportation and in August of 1971 moved to Greyhound Corporation’s new headquarters building in Phoenix. In April of 1976 Greyhound began looking to sell used coaches outside the United States. In particular, they were trying to avoid letting the unique Scenicruisers end up in other domestic fleets. There was little success with this so Fred ended up selling used Scenicruisers along with other coaches from the Greyhound fleet. It is somehow coincidental that the first two Scenicruisers sold by Greyhound were purchased by Spike Michaud and ended up as buses 181 and 182 in the fleet of Michaud Bus Lines.

This Greyhound publicity photo was taken on May 1, 1982, the opening day of the Knoxville World’s Fair. By this time the Yellow Coach 743 and ACF-Brill had joined the Historical Fleet. Greyhound sometimes provided drivers in period uniforms: Sam McConnell with the Mack, Jim Bowen with the 743 and Emory Hysell with the Brill. NBT ARCHIVES.

It all started when Fred found PD4501-001 on the list of Scenicruisers to be sold. He undoubtedly remembered his involvement in sending it out the first time when he was a dispatcher in New York City. Fred told his staff that he was reluctant to turn loose of 001. While other Scenicruisers were in better shape, the decision was made to hang on to 001. It was sent to Miami for restoration work that started what became the Greyhound Historical Fleet.

Based on available information, it appears that the second historical bus was the 1931 Mack. It was restored and was shown by Greyhound at the first Bus Bash in 1979 in Beaver Meadows, Pennsylvania. Both the Mack and the Scenicruiser were displayed at the ABA Baltimore Marketplace in December of 1980.  The historic fleet continued to grow by adding coaches newer than the Scenicruiser from the Greyhound fleet.  These were typically selected for appearance and condition rather than by serial number.  Older coaches were acquired from other sources, restored and painted in Greyhound colors.  While there were larger collections of historic buses, the Greyhound Historical Fleet not only showed a high state of restoration but the coaches were also in operating condition. 

Fred Dunikoski was promoted to the top in 1983 as the president and chief executive officer of Greyhound Lines. This ended in December of 1986 when Greyhound Corp. decided to concentrate on other activities including meat packing and soap by announcing it was selling Greyhound Lines to an investor group headed by Fred Currey of Dallas. The Historical Fleet was included in the sale. 

Taken on May 4, 1985, this photo looks into the Greyhound Shop at Dallas, Texas. By this time the PD4151 Silverside had joined the Historical Fleet. Over the years parts of the Historical Fleet were usually housed at different locations. TOM LANGFORD.

The bankruptcy of Greyhound Lines in 1990 prompted the sale of some of the historical units, particularly duplicates, but the bulk of the historical fleet remained intact. It appears that the sale of Greyhound Lines ended efforts to expand the historic fleet. It is interesting that while a Scenicruiser was included, the MC-6 and MC-12 were not. While original plans most likely included both the PD4104 and PD4106 models, neither survives in the current historical fleet.

In the following years, Greyhound Lines went through additional ownership changes with Laidlaw, First Group and now FlixBus. The Historical Fleet survived and some of the coaches were put on display at various events and shows. What was probably the biggest project of all was Greyhound’s 100th anniversary celebration. Commemorating the start of Greyhound in 1914 when Carl Eric Wickman began running a Hupmobile between Hibbing and Alice in Minnesota, the company organized a nationwide tour. Running from east to west across the United States from May through December, Greyhound had both a North and South tour stopping at major cities. In addition to several of the historic coaches, modern coaches and historic items were on display.

The 1931 Mack BK is the oldest bus in the Greyhound Historical Fleet. It represents one of the best examples of conventional (front engine) highway buses of that era. Indications are that it was the second bus selected for the Greyhound Historical Fleet. NBTARCHIVES.

This brings us up to current times. First Group had been under pressure from stockholders to divest itself of Greyhound Lines. The result was that on October 21, 2021 FlixMobility announced that it had acquired Greyhound Lines. Founded in 2013 in Germany, the company manages an extensive long distance bus network in Europe as well as some rail operations under the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands. Prior to the acquisition, Michaud Bus Appraisals was hired to appraise the entire Greyhound fleet including the Historical Fleet. This was not the first time that Michaud Bus Appraisals had appraised these buses.

In late 2022, FlixBus made the decision to sell seven of the eight vehicles in the Greyhound Historical Fleet. They elected to retain the 1914 Hupmobile since Greyhound traces its heritage back to Hibbing, Minnesota that year. Carl Eric Wickman took a new Hupmobile that had not been sold and used it to start a bus route from Alice to Hibbing, Minnesota. An interesting side note is that what was then Alice is Hibbing today because the town was moved to allow access to iron ore using open pit mining. Today’s Greyhound Museum is located on that original route.

Greyhound’s bankruptcy in 1990 prompted the sale of the extra buses in the Historical Fleet. The 743 with two-and-one seating that had been used to provide the power train for the restored Yellow Coach went to Alex Lock in California. He sold this coach later and it has been restored. ALEX LOCK.

It was not unexpected that Michaud Bus Appraisals LLC was selected to handle the sale of the historical fleet. Founder Spike Michaud is a well-known bus expert. His son, Jim, represents the fourth generation of family members in the bus business. Jim’s great-grandfather, Mike Michaud, founded a bus company in 1914, the same year that Greyhound was founded.

Information offered indicates that every one of these buses have been restored to museum-like quality both inside and out. All are as close to original as possible including running gear and drivetrain. All of the buses run and drive. They participated in the Greyhound 100th Anniversary tours in 2014 that crossed the United States. They were a huge hit everywhere they stopped and drew large crowds.

Jim Michaud commented: “We are extremely familiar with these particular antiques and have a long history of not only appraising antique buses but restoring several ourselves over the years. It made sense for us to represent these buses for sale.” Jim went on to say: “Although we are sad to see these buses go up for sale, it is an honor to represent them and to make sure they go to the proper buyers who will preserve them for generations to come. “Asking prices have been placed on the individual coaches and additional details can be found in listings on BusesOnline.com. Following are some details on the individual coaches presented in chronological order.

1931 Mack BK Parlor Coach

Many people are not aware that the Mack Brothers built buses before they built trucks. Their Model BK to a large extent represented a new and higher level of development in conventional buses. Replacing the Mack AL chassis, the new BK was introduced in 1929. It boasted better brakes and a new and larger engine. Powered by Mack’s largest engine, an inline six-cylinder 525 cubic inch gasoline engine, it was reportedly capable of speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. The BK provided seating for up to 33 passengers in seats with window curtains and had a fancy rear end that was designed to imitate the styling of a railroad observation car.

The Mack BK remained in production for five years while 544 buses were built. All of them were purchased by Greyhound. This model might have remained in production longer, but the Depression years cut into ridership and bus sales. However, the Mack BK became a major part of the Greyhound fleet in the 1930s. On some occasions when this bus was put on display, Greyhound provided a driver in a period uniform to show off the coach and answer questions. The asking price for the Mack BK is $225,000.

Article written by Larry Plachno

Larry Plachno has spent most of his life working in the bus industry. He purchased his first bus in 1963, worked for bus companies and owned bus companies including Executive Commuter Coach and Wisconsin Illinois Stages.

He has owned several bus conversions including three by Custom Coach. Since 1977, he has served as the editor of National Bus Trader.

You can contact Larry Plachno at
Reception@BusMag.com
or visit the website: BusMag.com

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