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English   The long road to the rear-mounted engine
17.11.2011 von admin

As if they knew their time would soon be up and the forward-control or cab-over-engine vehicles couldn’t be stopped, the long-nosed buses of the postwar days flaunted especially elegant designs. More akin to a coquettish snub nose than a powerful hood, the conventional front end of the vehicle fitted into an overall picture which seemed to express mainly one thing: verve. The stylistic elements serving to create this impression were an arched roof, a rounded rear end, and a lateral line which lightly and elegantly rose like a treble clef from hood to window area and then seemed to bow down in an agreeable way at the rear of the bus.

But design as an end in itself is something no one could have afforded in the hard times after the war, when the car played practically no role and bus and rail were responsible for mobility. In part a certain economical calculation was at the root of the novel, light design of the O 4500, because key raw materials still were rationed.

True, as early as 1949 General Director Wilhelm Haspel was able to state it was clearly evident “that the problem of the available iron” soon would belong to the past. But the builders of the O 4500 and the O 5000 which soon joined it made economical use of steel for good reason, practicing systematic lightweight design. The side walls, for example, were nowhere more than 50 millimeters thick. Nevertheless, the O 4500 and O 5000 impressed with “remarkably high vibration fatigue limits,” as a description from those days underlines.

“Rigorous efforts were made,” the same text continues, “to arrange and design all load-bearing elements so that clear loading ratios resulted and torsional strain has been almost entirely eliminated.” The arched roof had two different functions: One is that it provided a tremendous amount of standing room in the center aisle – the headroom was 2050 millimeters. But it also gave the vehicle added strength which could not be attained with a strictly cubical design.

Interior spaciousness as never before

Despite a relatively slim overall width of 2460 millimeters, which made the bus fit “to drive on narrow roads,” the engineers were able to design a great deal of spaciousness into the interior. A clear interior width of 2250 millimeters easily permitted placing five comfortable seats next to each other at the rear of the bus. And the center aisle also was worth an extra look: “Extra wide,” the factory pointed out, “on a scale you can never hope to find anywhere else, taking the usual twin seat configuration as a basis.” Not only lightness and verve, but a certain degree of spaciousness too was quite en vogue in the postwar years.

“Extra wide” was how the plant proudly described the generous centre aisle of the O 4500.

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