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English   Mercedes O 302: One for all
05.01.2009 von admin

German version

Mercedes O 302: One for all
  • Bodywork in the austere Bauhaus style of the sixties
  • Novelty: Panoramic glazing curving into the roof
  • Technical tidbit: The first hybrid bus
  • Successful bus with world-record production volume

Mercedes-Benz O 302 country bus with ten seat rows, 1966.

One for all – probably the aptest description of the Mercedes-Benz O 302. Urban regular-service bus, country bus, touring coach – this bus with the three-pointed star was a jack of all trades. And it was the last of its kind before buses became specialized. Launched in May 1965, the O 302 replaced the popular O 321 H, and the step from one to the other could hardly have been greater. The expectations made on the new O 302 were enormous considering that the O 321 H had scored worldwide success with over 20,000 units built in 13 years. However, “there should be no doubt that the O 302 will equally conquer a leading position in international bus manufacture,” the then Daimler-Benz AG wrote to its customers.

Bodywork in the austere Bauhaus style of the sixties

While the predecessor’s rounded contours and small windows identified it as a design from the 1950s, giving the bus a slightly outdated appeal toward the end of its career, the O 302 had been designed in the austere automotive Bauhaus style of the 1960s. The curvatures of roof and back did little to deter from the basic cuboid shape with steeply angled front, generous glazing, slim window pillars, long side windows and large rear screen. Typical luxury features in the 1960s were the chrome surrounds of all windows. The O 302 was a product of the economic miracle period in Germany: people had gained new confidence and wanted to see and be seen. Similar styling features also characterized the passenger cars of the day, for instance the Pagoda, the tailfin sedans and the W 108 and W 109 luxury-class models which were equally launched in 1965.

Only the broad scuff plates and trim strips of the O 302 were still reminiscent of the 1950s. A bare sheet-metal band ran across the front end and connected it with the sidewalls. On many O 302 units, a broad strip or color band extended along the sides, from the front to the rear bumper, giving the bus a well integrated appearance.

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