The transit vehicles displayed in this 1940's Photo Gallery were purchased by the city-owned D.S.R.
between 1940 and 1949.  After World War II, various makes of gasoline powered coaches, GM diesel
coaches, PCC streetcars, and electric "trackless" trolley-coaches were placed into service in Detroit.
As the new decade arrived, a unique DSR
policy begun in 1934 of operating smaller
size buses with frequent headways would
continue. By WW-II, over 97% of the DSR
bus fleet consisted of over 2,180 small size
buses built by Ford. However, after the war
it was decided that larger buses should be
purchased to reduce operating costs. The
first postwar new buses to arrive were GM
diesels. Although still a decade away, the
Detroit GM monopoly was just beginning.
Please click-on link to return to the "PHOTO GALLERY" Main Page.
© 2008 (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 03-08-10 (additions 09-25-11, 08-03-12, 12-12-12))
PHOTO: DSR GM diesel #1034 (Stan Sycko Photo)
This five-page 1940's Gallery is divided into three (3) sections, as follows...
    1. Diesel and Gasoline powered buses (pgs. 1–2)
    2. PCC streetcars (pgs. 3–4)
    3. Twin Coach electric trolley-coaches (pg. 5)
The DSR survived through WW-II with a remaining (and worn out) fleet of 1,850 Ford Transit buses purchased
between 1936 and 1942.  After having purchased nothing but small-size
(21–27 passenger) coaches since 1934, the
DSR would begin an aggressive campaign after the war to update its aging bus fleet with larger-size (mostly 35–45
coaches.  By January of 1948, the DSR would have already placed 1,192 new motor coaches into service,
with additional fleets of new buses still on the way by the end of the decade.
The next make of postwar coaches to arrive in Detroit were the dual-motored or twin engine
coaches manufactured by the Fageol Twin Coach Company of Kent, OH.  Probably the most
distinctive feature of the postwar Twins was its six-piece windshield made entirely of flat glass.
Three types of Twin coaches were purchased by the DSR.  Coach #4906 was representative of
the first thirty 44-passenger Twins (#4901-4930) that were delivered in December 1946.  The
original Twins (Model 44-D) had dual 6-cylinder gasoline engines that were turned on the side
and mounted beneath the floor.  However, the 44-D's  were later rebuilt with single motors.
[photos courtesy of the Sycko and Schramm photo collections, respectively]
All Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photos posted with permission.
All rights, including those of further reproduction and/or publication, are reserved in full by the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.  
Photographic reproductions may be protected by U.S. copyright law (U.S. Title 17).  The user is fully responsible for copyright infringement.

All Jim Husing Collection photos are posted with the permission of Mr. James Husing. Any distribution of photos for sale purposes is prohibited.
(1940's D.S.R. Bus Fleet Not Pictured)
Beginning in August 1940, the DSR leased forty-one (41) buses from the Detroit Board of
Education for school run service.  These school buses remained on the DSR roster until 1945.  
The 41 Board of Education leased buses included:

#8001-8026 — (26) Ford Motor Co - Model BB-18 (conventional style)
#8501-8507 — (7) International - Model D-30
#8601-8608 — (8) Dodge Brothers - Model K-34, (8606,8608) Model RE-32
A total of 310 gasoline-powered Twins were purchased between 1946 and 1947.  As can been
seen in this 1963 photo of #4834 at the Highland Park Terminal, the Twins, like other postwar
DSR buses, were repainted during the 1950's, with red trim added at the bottom and both doors
repainted mostly cream.  The majority of the 44-D and 41-S model Twins were retired in 1965.
[Jim Husing Collection photo, courtesy of James Husing — see disclaimer below]
While most of the DSR's gasoline-powered coaches were retired by 1962, the gasoline-powered
Twins would remain in service a few years longer, being primarily used on lighter-service routes
such as John R. North and Woodrow Wilson.  In the above photo, also taken in 1963, three of
the DSR Twins can be seen parked and ready for service at the DSR's Highland Park Terminal.  
[Jim Husing Collection photo, courtesy of James Husing — see disclaimer below]
Of the 1,962 postwar coaches purchased by the DSR, the Twins—the last of which were retired
in 1965—would be out-lived only by the postwar GM diesels.  However, a number of the smaller-
size #4500-series 38-S's were retired earlier.  All but five were retired by 1964, with 86 out of
that 100-coach fleet retired between 1963-64.  In this photo, a number of the Twins can already
be seen parked at the Coolidge Terminal graveyard in September of 1963.  Also partly visible is
the huge MichCon natural "gas-holder" tank, then located just north of the Coolidge property.
[Jim Husing Collection photo, courtesy of James Husing — see disclaimer below]
In this promotional photo, taken on October 16, 1945, new larger size diesel coach #1003 is
compared along-side a smaller
(27-passenger) Ford "Rear-Engine" Transit Bus (Model 09-B)
that was delivered back in November 1939.  Prior to the arrival of these 45-passenger GM's the
entire DSR bus fleet consisted entirely of small-size Fords.  Also note the "DEXTER" route sign
displayed on all of the new GM diesels.  The TD-4506's were initially assigned exclusively to the
busy and heavily patronized Dexter line, which operated out of the Highland Park bus garage.
[photo source: online – unknown (unidentified) photo collection]
This photo shows an interior view of one of the DSR's GM TD-4506 "old look" coaches.  Absent
from these coaches was the large "Thermo-Matic" blower unit
(made standard on GM transit
buses in 1946)
, which was located directly above the driver's compartment.  The interior colors  
included a cream color above the belt-line, and green color doors, lower walls and front dash.  
Although the majority were retired in 1966, the last TD-4506's remained in service until 1968.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
Many of the DSR's Ford Transits often displayed war-time messages during the war. Here, coach
#2790 proclaims "Buy War Bonds."  In 1943, during the height of WW-II,  the DSR had a fleet
total of 2,239 motor coaches — the world's largest bus fleet — which included 2,182 Ford buses,
15 Chevrolets, and one DSR built coach.  Used to supplement the department's fleet of 908
streetcars, all DSR bus routes, including heavily traveled lines such as Dexter, were all serviced
by these little buses operating under frequent headways—a practice unique within the industry.
[photo courtesy of the Carl D. Dutch photo collection]
While the 44-D's were the largest of the DSR Twins, the next group of Twins, the #4500-series,
would be the smallest in size, not only of the Twins but of all DSR "large-size" postwar coaches.  
Beginning in January of 1947, a fleet of 100 (37-passenger) Twins (#4501-4600 — Model 38-S)
began arriving. Unlike the 44-D's, the gasoline-powered 38-S's had a single underfloor-mounted
engine.  All of the DSR Twins sported the standard DSR livery of mostly cream with red trim.  
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
The third and last type of Twin to be purchased by the DSR (and the most numerous) were the
#4700-4800 series.  Beginning in August of 1947, one-hundred and eighty (180) 35-passenger
Twins (#4701-4880 — Model 41-S) began arriving.  Although built to seat more than 35
passengers, the seating arrangement was configured to accommodate high-capacity rush-hour
crowds, resulting in the DSR's 41-S model Twins arriving with single seats on the operator's side.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm collection ]
The first of the DSR postwar buses arrived on September 9, 1945, after the U.S. Navy had
cancelled part of a long-standing 80-coach order after the war.  Thirty of these GM TD-4506's,
built to U.S. Navy specifications, were diverted to Detroit.  These 35-foot, 45-passenger GM
coaches (#1001-1030) were the DSR's first diesel buses and its first bus fleet built by GM Coach.
The fleet came equipped with a Detroit Diesel  6V-71 diesel engine with a Spicer angle-drive
two-speed hydraulic
(automatic) transmission.  The 4506's also introduced a new DSR paint
scheme of mostly cream with red trim, which by the 1950's would be used system-wide.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
One of the unusual features about the DSR's first postwar buses were the single roll-curtain signs
which displayed only the route name—a feature not found on other DSR coaches.  During their
unusually long service lives, the TD-4506's also sported varied versions of the cream with red
paint scheme.  By the early-1950s, red trimming was added to the lower skirt, while the front and
center doors were repainted solid cream. Used primarily for light service and school runs by the
early-1960s, a 1967 DSR Annual Report listed eight of the 22-year-old buses still on the roster.
In this photo, Dexter coach #1019 is west along W. Outer Drive east of Lesure St., circa 1951.
[T.C. VanDegrift photo, courtesy of the Carl D. Dutch photo collection]
Here's an interior view of one of the DSR's 41-S model (35-passenger) Twins.  Although the 41-S
Twins had the capability of seating up to 41-passengers, the street-side single seat configuration
instead allowed for additional standing passengers during rush-hour high passenger loads.  The
interior colors have been described as cream upper panels and ceiling, light-green window
posts,  tan color doors and plastic-covered yellow stanchion bars.  The Twin coaches came
equipped with torsilastic (rubber) suspension springs, which offered passengers a softer
"velvet-like" ride.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
After their arrival in Detroit, a number of the DSR's new GM TD-4506's were lined-up for this
promotional photo taken at the DSR Highland Park Shops.  Actually, this 30-coach order was
part of a total 120-coach order, the remainder of which wouldn't arrive for two years.  Visible on
each roof-top is the non-mechanical ventilation system, consisting of six roof-mounted fresh air
vents or "ears" that was standard on GM
(and Yellow Coach) "old-looks" built prior to 1946.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
In this photo, coach #4094 can be seen traveling north along Woodward Avenue while working
the Hamilton line.  This photo looks southward from the east side of Woodward at the corner of
Monroe Street.  The Whites, like the early Twins that followed, were underfloor-engine buses.
Also note the billboard in the background proclaiming
"Maxwell House Coffee, Good to the Last
—a slogan still used some fifty-plus years later.  By the way, that entire block would one
day become the 17-story home of the National Bank of Detroit, now known as the Chase Tower.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
Even though there was a push after the war to purchase larger-size coaches, it appears that
additional fleets of small-size buses were still on the DSR's agenda.  In August of 1946, the DSR
accepted the delivery of another 300 small-size 27-passenger Ford Transit buses (#2901-3200)
now being promoted by Ford as its "Universal Bus."   These Fords (Model 79-B) were assigned to
smaller lines and replaced the older front-engine Fords purchased between 1936 and 1937.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
The DSR's postwar large size buses, including the smaller 38-S model Twins, were basically used
interchangeably on the heavier routes, although some makes, from time to time, were assigned
to specific routes.  These postwar buses were also used to replace the Peter Witt streetcars.  The
Hamilton and Grand River routes were the first rail lines in 1947 to be substituted with these
larger size coaches.  The 38-S model Twins were also the first Twin coaches to see retirement.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
In August of 1941,  a fleet of 300 more 27-passenger Ford Rear-Engine Transit Buses (#2301-
2600 — Model 19-B) were delivered to the DSR—in addition to the 500 already received in late
1939.  The DSR already had 331 of the old conventional Ford buses
(purchased in 1934-35) and
750 of the "front-engine" Ford Metropolitan buses
(delivered in 1936-37) in its bus fleet.  The
DSR was able to order an additional 300 of the new model Fords (#2601-2900 — Model 29-B)
prior to an Office of Defence Transportation (ODT) temporary shut down of bus production
during WW-II.  These were delivered beginning in May 1942.  In total, the DSR had 2,181 of the
Ford buses.  The last of these "black-bottom" Ford Rear-Engine Transits were retired in 1951.
[photo courtesy of the Stan Sycko photo collection]
This August 1941 photo shows how prominent the Ford Transit buses were in the DSR bus fleet.
Both front-engine and rear-engine Fords can be seen parked here at the Highland Park Garage,
located on Second near LaBelle in Highland Park. On an interesting side note: The Ford Transits
built prior to the end of the war were topped by a wood-framed padded rubber canvas roof.
*ADDED NOTE:  To conserve fuel, rubber and manpower during the war, the DSR also adopted
the downtown storage of buses at night and during off-peak hours in vacant parking lots.  This
practice of street dispatching, using two-way radio cars, reduced dead-head millage to garages.
[Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #29983 — see disclaimer below]
*ADDED NOTE:  To conserve fuel, rubber and manpower during the war, the DSR also adopted
the downtown storage of buses at night and during off-peak hours in vacant parking lots.  This
practice of street dispatching, using two-way radio cars, reduced dead-head millage to garages.
In this May 1955 photo, DSR coach #4087 can be seen boarding passengers at the very first bus
shelter erected by the DSR, on W. McNichols at Southfield Road, while inbound on the Second
Blvd. line.  For some reason, many of the Whites, like the Macks that would follow, would have
their front decorative chrome removed and would also undergo a redesigned paint scheme.
With the exception of two, which were retired early, the majority of the White Motor built buses
were retired in 1960, shortly after the first fleets of GMC "New-Look" coaches began arriving.
[Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #29975 — see disclaimer below]
The DSR's next fleet of postwar coaches were manufactured by the White Motor Company.  A
total of 130 of these 44-passenger gasoline-powered Whites — Model 798 — were  delivered in
1946.  Coach #4004 was one of the first five (#4001–4005) diverted from a Chicago Surface
Lines order and delivered in early February.  The remaining 125 coaches (#4011-4135 ) were
delivered between September and December of that year.  Meanwhile, five "used" 40-passenger
Whites (#4006-4010 — Model 788) were picked up from the Erie Coach Company in March.  A
number of Whites were used to replace the older Peter Witt cars on a number of lines.  Initially,
the Whites sported a dark green and cream livery with a silver roof, but were later repainted.
[site-owner's collection photo, courtesy of the Schramm photo collection]
THE 1920's
1  2  3  4
THE 1930's
1  2  3
THE 1940's
1  2  3  4  5
THE 1950's
1  2  3
THE 1960's
1  2  3
THE 1970's
1  2  3
THE 1980's
1  2  3
THE 1990's
1  2  3
THE 2010's
1   2
THE 2000's
1   2
This last fleet of DSR post-war Ford Transits (#2901-3200) were similar to the "black-bottom"
Ford Transits delivered prior to the war.  However, the canvas-covered wooden roofs that had
been used on the earlier fleets were now replaced by an all-metal aluminum-skinned steel
framed roof.  The paint scheme also differed in that cream with red trimming now replaced the
cream with black trim.  The above 35mm slide image shows two unidentified DSR employees
posing along-side Ford Transit coach #2953.  The last of these Fords were retired in 1954.
(former DSR Service Inspector Marvin F. Floer slide collection photo—courtesy of Chris Floer)
During the war, record numbers of Detroiters patronized the DSR, with bus ridership averaging
1,800,000 patrons daily.  In this 1942 photo, crowds of Detroiters can be seen lining-up along
Campus Martius street preparing to board two Ford Transit buses working the
John R-Oakland
line.  In spite of ODT requirements limiting bus millage, the DSR was able to handle the record-
breaking crowds by working with area manufacturing plants to stagger working hours which
helped to double bus capacity. Although some riders had to stand, these small buses did the job!
[John Vachon photo, courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress: American Memory Collection]