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Fishbowl Find: 1966 GM TDH-4519 Bus

The “New Look” municipal transit bus was produced from 1958 to 1977 by the Truck and Coach Division of General Motors. It’s commonly referred to as the “Fishbowl” for its six-piece rounded windshield that was later replaced by a two-piece curved pane. The seller acquired the bus from a museum years ago, it has been used recently for his business, but he’s now scaling back his fleet. You can check it out in North Charleston, South Carolina, and it’s available here on eBay where bidding is at $5,600 with a reserve still to be met.

GM was a big player in the bus business, building more than 44,000 of these workhorses over a 20-year period. 33,000 of them were built in the U.S. with another 11,000 in Canada. Several types of buses were made, including both city buses and suburban coaches. More than 90 percent were for inter-city use. Despite their age now, a few transit systems are known to still be using some of these buses. Most of this series used Detroit Diesel Series 71 two-cycle diesel engines for power. They used an “Angle-drive” configuration with a transverse-mounted engine with the transmission angled at a 45-degree angle to connect to the rear axle. The engines were slanted backward for maintenance access. Thanks, Wikipedia, for some background on these bad boys.

The seller’s bus is GM model TDH-4519 from 1966. We’re told that it’s been well-maintained and the photos support that. The seller says it runs and drives well and there are no known flaws inside or out. This bus is no means plush as it was intended for daily use in and around town by your friendly transit company. The rear service door has been deactivated, so all access would be from the front of the bus. The seller does not know how many miles this mean machine has traveled in its 54 years. To save you getting out a tape measure, this thing should be 35 feet long by 8 feet wide.

What’s an old soldier like this really worth? And if you bought it, what would you do with it? Maybe a Hollywood career when a retro bus is called for? After all, 11 of its cousins appeared in the Keanu Reeves 1994 movie, Speed, and it has already been in a film of its own, according to the seller.


  1. Avatar photo Bluetec320 Member

    This thing is awesome! Detroit Diesel, seating for 33+, and thanks to the door sign, I can be confident that no one will ever litter, smoke, spit, drink, play a radio or tape player on my bus! I would make this my daily driver and enjoy every minute of my commute every day…😁

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Steve

      You could use the bus lane?
      Parking might be an issue?

      Like 12
      • Avatar photo Terri

        It can be used on the 495 bus lane to and from NYC thru the Lincoln tunnel.

        Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Bob Mck

    I have no idea why, but I love this bus. Have no idea what I would do with it, but if I had interior parking for it, I would bid on it.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo David

    Rode many of these in New York. Loved the ride, those drivers knew what they were doing in traffic.
    They were very hot in the summer and I loved sitting on the engine in the middle seat getting my *** burned.

    Like 8
  4. Avatar photo Cardoc

    Where’s the coin/fare machine thing with the glass top and the spinning wheel thingy on the side?? I can still hear the sound of that thing….haha

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      I have a manual Johnson Farebox if anyone needs one!

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Mark

    Great memories. The town I grew up in had a fleet of about 12 that were in use until sometime in the 1970s

    Like 8
  6. Avatar photo Dabig Kahuna

    If you really want one of these there is a used bus broker in Menifee CA who will sell you one of these cheap cheap. I purchased one just like this for $1400.00 to transport our crew from a remote parking lot to the jobsite for a construction project in Disneyland. It was a change order to do this and I charged Disney 60k for the use of the bus. The rat bas***ds happily paid! At the end sold the bus back to the broker for $500.00

    Like 12
  7. Avatar photo Classic Steel

    This could be a future Covid19 avoidance bus 🚌 remodeled to the new family Magic Bus …
    Numbers spike move to new camp grounds 😉

    Put a drop tailgate for a toy hauler …motorcycles and atvs

    Like 3
  8. Avatar photo Tim

    Those buses were my ride in high school, until I bought my first car. The memories are just rushing in. Riding with adults that worked downtown, rivals from another high school. Some after school rides, as the bus would be full, the standees would get the bus rocking from side to side. Some drivers would get mad, some didn’t care. But that always ticked off the adults on the bus. If I had the money and the CDL, I’d buy it to shuttle bachelor or bachelorette groups and let them rock the bus. Just hose down the floor for spillage or other messes.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Stan Marks

      I drove chartered motor coach (tour bus), around the country for 20 years, before retiring in Dec.’13. I would never go back. Last time I renewed my DL, I dropped my CDL.I didn’t even want to be tempted.

      After those bachelor & bachelorette parties, you can clean up the puke, when the trip is over, Tim. Trips to the football stadiums, on a Sunday, were just as bad. Our company made sure the group paid a beverage deposit first. I won’t tell you what the rest room looked like, afterwards. You don’t have a rest room on the city bus.
      I could tell you stories…….

      Like 8
      • Avatar photo Tim

        I was too into memory lane when I closed my comment. There is no way I wish to clean up after someone else’s party. However, it would be neat to try my hand at driving that bus.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo wcshook

        I hear you about those charters! I drove some charters that were reminiscent of my days as a correctional officer, on fried chicken Sunday. Rushing the door, getting mad when I would only allow the number of riders the bus was seated for. But then, I had many more charters that were a pleasure. I miss driving the bus and meeting new people.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        Stan Marks & Tim,

        Ahhhh, yessss, handling the vomit issue, especially with kids . . .

        In the 1980s & 90s I owned & operated a vintage Rolls-Royce style limousine service in the Washington DC area. We specialized in weddings, corporate award events, and the dreaded proms. [We hated having to deal with rowdy kids, but the money was twice or triple our regular rates due to the demand for our impressive vehicles.]

        Because we catered to a fairly wealthy area in the DC
        suburban counties, we were always booked solid during prom season, for all 8 cars. We had a requirement of a $300 CASH deposit for proms, paid in advance by the parents of the individual ordering the limo for a specific prom [the parents usually had to sign the contract as most seniors were not yet 18].

        That child’s parent or parents also had to sign a separate contract for proms, stating that all riders would not be using alcohol that evening [not just while in the limo]. In that contract it clearly stated that if anyone puked inside the car [any amount of vomit], the $300 cash deposit was forfeit.

        Twice we were sued because we refused to refund the $300 cash deposit, because a different child than their own got stinkin’ ass drunk & puked in the limo. In both cases, the judge dismissed the case, telling the parents not to sue my company, but to sue the parents of the kid who puked [and both times the parents who brought the suit against us ended up paying our legal costs as well].

        Like 3
    • Avatar photo wcshook

      As a youngster, whatever age that was, you weren’t thinking about safety. Rocking the bus was fun, but could have caused the bus to rock into a telephone pole or street light. It could have damaged the bus or gotten the driver charged by the company for a preventable accident and maybe losing their job. Or it could have caused a control issue, with the same results. The air ride suspension made them rock more than the earlier spring loaded buses. That is why they rode so smooth. You would get very tired of cleaning up the mess, and forbid someone got injured and filed a claim against you. Good idea, and I am sure it would have its moments of fun. I drove school buses and charter coaches. Cleaning up the messes is not my definition of having fun.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo David Fetty

    I’m retired… I’d be driving the local bus routes every day, ALMOST stopping to pick up riders so the cheesy local service would get a few thousand complaints about their service.

    Like 10
  10. Avatar photo Larry S

    Definitely a good possibility that I rode this bus as kid. The color scheme and MBC logo on the side indicates that This bus was originally a Madison Bus Company city bus in Madison, Wisconsin.
    5 cents adult fare. Your operator ( Bud Ward), safe, reliable, courteous.
    They would line these busses up outside Cherokee middle school to transport kids in grades 6-8 home at 3:15 pm. The first kids on the busses would open up all the windows on a cold winter day, and all of the pedestrian kids like me would throw snowballs into the bus.
    I vividly recall hitting the bus driver Bud Ward right in the side of his head.
    (Sorry Bud- RIP)

    Like 5
  11. Avatar photo David Miraglia

    Rode them and drove a few at the beginning of my bus driving career, 31years ago, always desired a New Look.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Being a movie vehicle doesn’t really account for much. I had a 1972 Oldsmobile Ninty Eight that supposedly Al Pichino rode in the front passenger seat in the movie “Carlitos Way.” I have no way of proving this as it ended up on the editing floor.

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Jost

    Thats cool..sure does bring back memories. I remember when these we’re the new buses!

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo wcshook

    You might want to check the accuracy of the windows being changed to two panes. I have a couple of books on the “Fishbowl’, grew up around city buses (Dad drove them) old and new looks, never saw or knew of this. The Classic, which came after this, had two window panes.

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Butchb

    Curious to know what the top speed would be. I understand City buses were geared too low to be successfully hiway driven.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Terri

      It can be used on the 495 bus lane to and from NYC thru the Lincoln tunnel.
      Drove a TDH on the Jersey turnpike, can’t recall its top speed but remember stepping on the (non-existant) clutch as we entered a toll booth. Prefer the TDM over the TDH.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Stan Marks

      They all have governors. It depends what the mechanics set them at.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Bob Mck

        Can they be removed?

        Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Brian Weyeneth

    I drive a Smeal fire engine now, this would be a blast!

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

    For years I rode a “D.C. Transit” city bus in Washington DC, to & from a private school every weekday. The route from suburban Maryland took the bus down Wisconsin Avenue, thru Georgetown, DC. One VERY memorable trip in winter 1966, during one of the biggest snowstorms ever recorded in DC, ended up with the bus I was riding on heading south downhill. As a pre-teen I had a blast staring out the left SIDE windows, as the bus, straddling both the 2 traffic lanes & the 2 lanes reserved for parking [no cars were parked that morning due to the snow emergency rules] kept picking up speed .After several blocks sliding sideways down the hill, it finally came to rest against a pole at about Porter St N.W.

    Took more than 4 hours to get to school, only to discover it was closed. Another 6 hours return by bus, got stranded about a mile from home, I walked the last mile in the slushy, but plowed, streets. On getting home well after dark, I was met with a pair of angry parents who complained because I didn’t call home. My only comment before going to bed exhausted, was “Call from what phone?”

    As I’ve said ever since; BESTEST BUS RIDE OF MY LIFE, EVER!

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Jimbo

      I’m from DC too and rode these DC Transit (later Metrobus) buses everywhere! My car took a crap one cold January and I didn’t have the money to fix it so I rode these bad boys until summer when I got the clunker back on the road. Lots of good and goofy memories!

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Stan Marks

      Bill & Tim,

      On those trips, to an NFL game, The groups would bring cleaning supplies & a wet mop. They were considerate enough to clean up after themselves. They wanted their bev. deposit back. It was up to me, who got their deposit back.
      I’ll tell you the up-side of those trips. My tips were awesome.
      I usually received anywhere between $100-$400. Not too shabby for one day.

      Bob McK,
      To answer your question, about removing governors….
      If you install them, you can remove them. It’s much easier to adjust the speed.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Stan Marks

        I was just thinking of a one week trip, to Wisconsin Dells.
        It was with a group of senior citizens, from Pitts. The week went great. The night before we headed home, we stopped at a restaurant, in Hammond, In. The next morning, as I was loading luggage, some people were complaining of sickness.
        We were still in Indiana, when passengers started getting sick.
        You know what I’m talking about…….
        Interestingly, the women were puking & the men had diarrhea. OY!!!!!
        Between the noise & the smell of spoiled chicken, it was no picnic. I had an earbud for my CB radio. I turned the sound up & lowered the squelch.to muffle the noise. The men used the rest room & women were filling their little trash bags. Every so often, the group leader would have me stop in a rest area, to dump the bags. Should I go on????
        It was a miracle I didn’t get sick. That was one trip I couldn’t wait ti get back to the garage..

        Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Back then, people weren’t “sue happy” like they are now. plus, not everything we did was “dangerous!” Like it is now. (BS)

    Like 0

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