Crazy Glass-Top Bus: 1940 Gebruder Tuscher Coach

Variety is the spice of life. That is certainly true here at Barn Finds. We are fortunate enough to see some quirky and rare vehicles coming across our desks. This 1940 Gebrüder Tüscher Coach has to rank right up there with the best of them. It started its active life in Switzerland, but it has found its way in its retirement to Fairfield, Connecticut. The owner has performed a few updates on the vehicle, but it now needs someone to put their mark on this unusual classic. If you think that you could be that person, then you will find the Coach listed for sale here on Facebook. The owner has not set a sale price, but he is open to offers. He is also willing to consider trades. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Peter R for spotting a truly quirky vehicle for us to examine.

It’s quite hard to decide where to begin with this fantastic Coach, so maybe a bit of background is in order. Gebrüder Tüscher was formed by brothers Otto and Fritz Tüscher. It commenced business in Zurich in 1909 and remained a family-owned company until 1984. At that point, it was sold, and it still operates today. It is probably no surprise to learn that it continues to specialize in coachbuilding buses. However, under the ownership of the brothers, it produced some diverse products. They fabricated some beautiful bodies for brands such as Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, and Bugatti. By the 1930s, they were more focused on American makes such as Dodge, Cadillac, and Auburn. Their workmanship was legendary, and it was at this stage that they also diversified their business into the building of bus bodies. Between 1930 and when this coach was built, approximately 210 vehicles rolled out of their factory. Production didn’t slow markedly during the 1940s, and this was undoubtedly aided by the fact that Switzerland remained a neutral country during the years of World War II. The majority of their coaches were constructed of steel frames clad in aluminum and steel body panels, and that appears to be the case with this vehicle. The steel frame seems to be sound, while the original chassis has been swapped out for an early 2000’s Winnebago chassis. The panels are showing a few dings and dents, but they should be able to be straightened with no problems. From the waistline up, the Gebrüder Tüscher features glass and plexiglass panels, along with a retractable canvas mid-section for the roof. The owner states that he has the majority of the glass and plexiglass pieces, which is a relief. With a bit of luck, a glazier might be able to fabricate the missing pieces. It appears that the frame for the canvas roof section is present, so having a new cover made should be an easy task.

The interior of the Gebrüder Tüscher is a blank canvas, and this opens up a world of possibilities for the next owner. Given the vast expanses of glass, this vehicle would be ideal for someone who conducts any form of sightseeing tours. There’s no doubt that customers wouldn’t be able to complain about a lack of visibility from this Coach. I initially thought that it might make an excellent base for a really funky camper, but I’m not sure whether there would be sufficient headroom for that. However, it still might work quite well in that role for the occasional weekend away. Beyond that, it would undoubtedly make a distinctive family car. You wouldn’t have trouble locating it in the car park at your local mall.

It isn’t clear what the original underpinnings of the Gebrüder Tüscher were, but it has received a recent update. The body has been dropped onto a Winnebago frame. Getting things up and moving is a 460ci V8, which should provide ample power and torque to get the vehicle motoring respectably. Safety and ease of operation haven’t been neglected. The Coach comes equipped with power steering, along with 4-wheel power disc brakes. It appears that the next owner will have little to do on the mechanical front because the seller states that the Coach runs and drives perfectly.

Those of you who are regular readers will know just how much I like quirky vehicles. This 1940 Gebrüder Tüscher Coach would undoubtedly qualify on that front. Today, buses tend to be bland and boring, but this one hails from a time when coachbuilders were allowed to supply something distinctive and different. I’m not entirely sure just what I would do with it, but I have to say that it could make a cool camper for the occasional weekend jaunt. That’s my idea. So, what’s yours?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    A “Tuscher”? I can’t wait for the replies on this one. Looks like a mess.

    6
    • Lenchner Jon

      This one has lost its Tuchus…👍🏻

  2. Skorzeny

    I think it’s beautiful. Bummer about the chassis, but since it’s not original anymore, I would like to see three carbs on that 440, or a Hemi!

    1
    • jerry hw brentnell

      how do you figure that would work since thats a 460 ford engine not a mopar?????

      1
  3. PaulG

    Neat, but I don’t think I would use the word easy when it comes to working on a rig such as this. I’d like to see what the original chassis looks like…

    9
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    How would you like to put your tusch in a Tuscher?

    3
  5. Tempo Matador Ray

    Hey Adam,
    Nice job 👍🏻 I too am a fan of unusual automobilia. This bubble top would make for a cool scenic surf transporter here on the California coast…

    1
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’m sure that this will turn someone’s crank. It doesn’t really do things for me but it’s designer thought it was beautiful. Gebruder Tuscher? Sorry but I think I was treated for that some years ago. I don’t quite remember if it was Kaopectate or penicillin that the doctor gave me. Maybe both. Whatever, I couldn’t stray too far away from the ‘throne.’ Someone’s likely going to start heating up the tar and looking for the bag of feathers to apply to me for that redneck comment, but I can’t help it; I AM a redneck…

    12
  7. James HGF

    Gebruder Tuscher was and is a Swiss coach building firm that was founded by the brothers (Gebruder – brother in German) Otto and Fritz Tuscher in 1909. They fabricated a number of beautiful bodies on Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Delahaye and other creme de la creme European automobiles.

    Also specialized in cabriolet bodies on late 30s American marques such as Buick, Chrysler and DeSoto retaining their original grille, hood, fenders, etc. IMO the Chryslers & DeSotos needed some cosmetic surgery up front.

    European buses pre and post WWW11were in many cases handsomely styled. Beauty and function in a smart package.

    One such Gebruder and Tuscher bus is shown on this Coachbuild for forum page sadly lacking chassis manufacturer’s name & data:

    https://www.coachbuild.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=59

    5
  8. James HGF

    This coachbuild.com page offers a few photos of Tuscher designs. Note the cabriolets built on Alfa and Bugatti chassis, but also the list of the high end machines which include Isotta Fraschini and Rolls Royce.

    American brands included Studebaker, Cadillac, and Auburn. Swiss importer for Alfa Romeo. Not as well known as Graber, but nonetheless a top house.

    https://www.coachbuild.com/2/index.php/encyclopedia/coachbuilders-models/category/tuescher

    Too bad the facebook Tuscher has lost its chassis & with it it’s identity and verifiable date. Major project nevertheless though less appealing to a few bus enthusiasts.

    1
  9. Arby

    Sorry, but if your Tuscher isn’t numbers matching it’s not worth much…

    1
  10. Kenneth Carney

    Just saw the Plymouth P4 and boy, does
    it look great! I like it even more than the
    the standard ragtops they offered here in
    the states. Now for the bus, I can’t see any other use for it other than a tour bus.
    You might wanna figure on adding a really good A/C system to it otherwise
    your passengers will do the shake and bake!

  11. Richard Van Dyke Sr Member

    If I had the money I’d buy it and turn it over to Joe Martin and let him work his magic.

    2
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      He’d bag it, put on giant wheels and tires, replace the engine with an LS of some sort and paint it radically….the same thing he does on every vehicle. He’s a great artist and painter, but his visions for vehicles are the same thing over and over. Great workmanship (although since Shorty has left, we’ll have to see) but limited vision, IMO. And it would be nice if just once he and Amanda would wear a seat belt or shoulder harness in these dangerously hot and fast vehicles. Nothing like the freedom to fly head first through the windshield upon impact.

  12. Royal

    This a project for someone with deep projects. I’d love to see an icon derelict build on a custom chassis. Itd be cool if it were electric and used a Tesla components with extra battery capacity for range.

    Also all glass up top with make this a nightmare to keep cool on hot summer days.

  13. bull

    The later model chassis to me is an improvement.

    That would be on HOT SOB with a glass roof.

    Make neat motorhome.

    Throw stock restoration to the side. Replace glass with a solid roof, modern living amenities you see it a current motorhome and hit the road AFTER $1,000’s of Dollars and years of work to complete.

    Just make sure you live long enough to enjoy it after the restofication!

    1
  14. Lance

    Nein danke.

    3
  15. charlie Member

    Putting a modern chassis under a classic tour bus is not new – Ford put modern chassis under 1937-39 White tour busses in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks about 10 years ago. They also have retractable canvas roofs. They are cool, and they are safe, and far more powerful, and far better brakes, especially needed on the grades on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier and some of the roads in Yellowstone.

  16. Bill McCoskey

    The curved glass panels challenge:

    There are 8 special 3-D curved glass panels in that wonderful roof. I’m sure those 8 panels were custom made. That’s a costly endeavor. I doubt they were Plexiglas, because in 1950s Europe, hand-formed glass would have been a lot cheaper. I suspect the 6 curved panels above the straight side glass panels are a standard-size curved glass, available on special order from glass companies, especially from Czechoslovakia.

    About 30 years ago my restoration shop had to find a replacement for a missing rear window of a one-off car body. Our in-house cabinet maker from Haiti had to create a solid mahogany wooden buck that we sent to England. The buck was created to match the opening for the window.

    The company who created the windows [the cost of 3 windows was the same as ordering one] used the bock as a form to lay the very hot flat glass panels over it, and the simple act of gravity pulled the glass downward until it was formed. Once cooled, the edges of the glass were laboriously ground down until the glass was the proper size to fit.

    The whole effort in England took about a week. I brought the buck over by air, because even with the cost of my plane ticket, at that time it was cheaper to bring the buck over as oversize baggage [I was flying Icelandic Air back then, and they advertised “If you can get it to the check-in counter by yourself, we’ll take it!”, ] Same thing with coming home, I left the [now charred] wooden buck behind, and brought back a wood box containing 3 well-packed rear windows.

    We selected the best of the 3 pieces of glass [none were perfectly formed] and it fit beautifully. As far as I know, the car’s owner still has that wooden case with 2 extra glass rear windows.

    I don’t remember the exact cost to have the glass formed & the labor to make the buck, along with the shipping costs, but it was around $3,200 [including around 600 Pounds Sterling to make the glass]. If one was to figure the costs today of creating the 4 back panels, the next 2 panels above them, plus the 2 special panels above the windshields, I would do a general estimate of $8k to $10k to make & install those 8 panels.

    I can envision this bus completed, with a full Webasto style sunroof down the center of the roof and all the glass panels installed. I doubt there is another similar bus in the world. I have seen many European tour buses of the 1950s, often with curved glass windows, but I’ve never seen one with glass panels right up to the edge of a Webasto sunroof.

    1950s open air touring at it’s finest!

    6
  17. Jonathan Q Higgins

    Make a heck of a motor home. But Mr McCoskey has dampened my ardor considerably.

    1
  18. Bill McCoskey

    Jonathan,
    Sorry to dampen your dreams, but better to know in advance what you’re getting into.

    I suspect the current owner has discovered how expensive and labor intensive fitting glass to this beautiful bus will be. He may have also discovered that if he uses Plexiglas panels, they remain flexible and the 4 back panels probably won’t stay in place once the roof is open, especially now that the new chassis will allow the bus to exceed the old drive train’s top speed of about 50mph.

    I do hope that a serious bus lover finds this, and invests the money it needs to make it beautiful again. Perhaps the National Bus & Truck group in Auburn, Indiana might be able to take on the challenge. [They have a great museum behind the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.]

    • BlondeUXB

      Why use glass or plexiglass for the top ? Fabric would fit the bill…

  19. Mountainwoodie

    geomechs

    I dont appreciate your cultural appropriation. You just want what this guy has!

    https://hiphappy.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/outside-toilet.jpg

    In any event with enough money when youre not treating your tush you could be working on this Tuscher

    2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Now that IS funny! LMAO!!! You know, I was in Kalispell one weekend and being toured around a new housing development by a friend who was a brick mason, and he was showing me around. We had just come from dinner and I was suddenly stuck by an attack of ‘GT.’ It was a great deal of effort to keep it together. I was so relieved when the guy’s wife suggested we go for a beer. We pulled up in front of the nearest watering hole and I did my best to saunter casually to the boys’ room. The john was just inside the door and in front of God and everybody who came in. But there are times when your priorities sort of take a backseat…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VezUXSb8dDA

      2
  20. geomechs geomechs Member

    Now that IS funny! LMAO!!! You know, I was in Kalispell one weekend and being toured around a new housing development by a friend who was a brick mason, and he was showing me around. We had just come from dinner and I was suddenly stuck by an attack of ‘GT.’ It was a great deal of effort to keep it together. I was so relieved when the guy’s wife suggested we go for a beer. We pulled up in front of the nearest watering hole and I did my best to saunter casually to the boys’ room. The john was just inside the door and in front of God and everybody who came in. But there are times when your priorities sort of take a backseat…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VezUXSb8dDA

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