Rapido Trains New Look Bus

Published: 2022-07-01 - By: CNW400
Last updated on: 2022-06-30
visibility: Public - Headline
After a lengthy delay, Rapido Trains finally released the highly anticipated General Motors New Look Bus in May of 2022. The first production of this model in N Scale format represents the portrait of public street transportation in the United States and Canada during the 1960’s thru 1990’s.

Road Names and Pricing

The initial Rapido Trains N Scale New Look Bus series features six different transit companies with twelve different paint schemes.
  • Boston (MBTA) Yellow & White
  • GO Transit (Ontario) Green, Black & White
  • Montreal (STCUM) Blue & White
  • New York (MTA) Blue
  • New York (MTA) Green
  • Toronto (TTC) Maroon & Beige
  • Toronto (TTC) Red, Black & White
  • Santa Monica Two-Tone Blue
  • Unlettered (1 of each) Blue, Red, Silver, or White
Individual buses are available with a suggested retail price of $34.95 (US) or $39.95 (CAD) except for GO Transit with an asking price of $39.95 (US) or $44.95 (CAD).

Prototype History

The General Motors (GM) ‘New Look’ Bus was introduced in 1959 to replace the GM ‘Old Look’ Transit Bus. The GM ‘Old Look’ Bus was first offered by the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company in 1940. The older style featured a streamlined body with small window and an appearance comparable to a loaf of bread – roughly 38,000 ‘Old Look’ buses were built before being officially discontinued in 1969. The Yellow Coach Company was established in 1923 in Chicago by John D. Hertz (also the founder of Yellow Cab and Hertz Car Rental). Yellow Coach produced transit buses, trolley buses and parlor coaches. General Motors acquired an interest in the Yellow Coach Company in 1925 before gaining complete control in 1943 and merging the bus operations into the GM Truck & Coach Division.

GM ‘Old Look’ Bus – Chicago Motor Coach #605
Illinois Railway Museum (Koltz)

The 1959 ‘New Look’ design displayed a six-piece windshield (later replaced by a four-piece) that vastly improved driver visibility. This large, curved window configuration earned the moniker the ‘Fishbowl.’ The GM bus was also lighter in weight with its riveted aluminum shell and wooden floor frames. Most ‘New Look’ buses ran on Detroit Diesel Series 71 six-cylinder engines with either automatic or manual transmissions. Improved suspension, heating, and ventilation (including air conditioning) offered a more pleasant public transportation experience.

Washington D.C. took the first delivery of ‘New Look’ buses in 1959 with a fleet of TDH-5301 buses.

General Motors built 44, 484 ‘New Look’ buses during the model's production lifespan: 33,413 produced at the GM Truck & Bus United States plant in Pontiac, Michigan (1959-1977) and 11,071 at the GM Diesel facility in London, Ontario, Canada (1962-1986). The final U.S. built ‘New Look’ order was delivered in March 1977 to the City of Wausau, Wisconsin.

TTC 8058 at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum. Author: 8215Andrew (2012)

The Prototype for the Rapido Bus Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

The ‘New Look’ bus was manufactured in three body lengths: the 29-foot (33 seat capacity) and 35-foot (45 seat capacity) were popular with smaller municipalities while the 40-foot (53 seat capacity) was the choice of larger cities. Furthermore, the bus was also offered in two varieties – the Transit and Suburban. The Transit version featured traditional bus seating with two doors (front and slightly past the mid-point). The Suburban model was equipped with individual forward-facing seats mounted four-across and only one door. The Suburban could have been fitted with an optional raised platform seating-surface that created a drop-center aisle.

The above image is of a GM ‘New Look’ Bus stored at the Illinois Railway Museum (IRM) located in Union, Illinois. This bus, Model T6H-4523A, was painted for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) of the Chicagoland area. Bus #8006 is one of 2,562 United States built T6H-4523A models built between 1971 and 1977. The orange and blue RTA #8006 was delivered in September of 1976 and retired from service in 1993.

“Hey dude! What does all this T6H blah blah stuff mean?”. The General Motors naming system is a straightforward and simple arrangement to identify specific series models. We will use my photograph of RTA #8006 (model T6H-4523A) as an example:
  • T = version of bus: T for Transit or S for Suburban
  • 6 = the generation of engine used
  • H = type of transmission: H for Hydraulic (Allison automatic) or M for Manual
  • 45 = seating capacity
  • 23 = two-digit series number
  • A = equipped with air conditioning (A) or no air conditioning (N)*
We can quickly identify the RTA bus as a Transit-type with automatic transmission, 45 seats (thus 35-feet long), and air conditioning. (* General Motors began using the air conditioning symbol starting in 1968).

Finally, there are four generations of ‘New Look’ buses – each with a set of cosmetic changes, mandated safety features and power options.
  • First Generation (1959 – 1962)
  • Second Generation (1963 – 1967)
  • Third Generation (1968 – 1971) --- Now marketed as GMC at a base price of $29,504
  • Fourth Generation (1972 – 1979) U.S. / (1972 – 1986) Canada
The ‘New Look’ bus was replaced in production by the Rapid Transit Series (RTS) City Bus. The GMC Truck and Coach Division first launched the RTS Series in 1977 and continued manufacturing until 1987 when GMC began to divest from the transit industry. Production of the RTS bus was transitioned to Motor Coach Industries (MCI) in Des Plaines, Illinois.

The Model

The pre-assembled Rapido Trains ‘New Look’ Bus came packaged in a chipboard box with a clear plastic window. Inside the box the model was supported in a two-piece plastic cradle with a thin plastic wrap to prevent scuffs and scratches to the bus. Also discovered in the packaging was a parts list, information sheet and some extra detail parts – all literature was published in both English and French.

The pieces found in the plastic bag include side-mirrors, rear air conditioning units and a variety of bumpers. First, the tiny mirrors are an optional feature that must be attached by the end-user. Secondly, the Rapido bus is a representation of Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) #8058 (T6H-5307N) built in 1975. As explained above, the ‘N’ notes the absence of air conditioning – these detail parts are included if the user desires to apply them depending on era or transit line modeled.

Finally, the Rapido ‘New Look’ Bus is equipped with the proper bumper style for each transit line: steel, water, or rubber. Yes – water! A plastic safety bumper filled with 13-gallons of water was used to absorb low impact collisions. All three bumper options are made available and can easily be swapped out.

The prototype used to develop the Rapido Trains bus was from a complete 3D body scan from a Fourth Generation ‘New Look’ model. The front of the unlettered silver and blue bus (item no. 573096) features the prototype correct steel bumpers, a ‘fishbowl’ curved glass windshield with single blade arm wipers, and a silver GMC logo plate (which is unmarked). The headlights and turn signals are in the proper configuration – two headlights and two taillights can illuminate with power from a 9-volt battery or 12-volt DC adaptor (not included). Route decals are also NOT supplied, and the blue paint job is inconsistent with signs of both under- and overspray in some areas. The two square protrusions below the headlights are anchor points to attach lines for towing.

The front windshield offers an interior view of the driver’s chair, steering wheel, fare collection box and the first few rows of passenger seating. The entire interior of the bus is white plastic – the shell of the bus can be removed by releasing four pressure-point clips located on the bottom of the model. Once inside, the interior can be painted and/or passengers added for an extra touch of realism. The interior also displays a grooved floor, stairs, and poles for your standing passengers.

Finally, the front profile of the bus exhibits the prototype correct roof Michigan markers and clearance lights on either side of the bus frame. In 1968, new Federal Vehicle Safety Standards mandated new requirements for improved exterior light indication, including the installation of three center lamps (Michigan markers) on the roofline at the front AND rear of the bus.

The “passenger” side of the bus displays the prototype accurate two door configuration for a Transit model version bus (the Suburban version features one door). The tubular silver skin has a corrugated pattern with ventilation grills and compartments for tools and the battery. The rear square panel on the passenger side allows access to the transmission while the panel on the driver side depicts the radiator grill. The driver side also features an emergency exit door near the mid-point. The marker light positions and window configurations on both sides are correct when compared to prototype images.

The rear of the bus displays the generation appropriate enlarged three light pattern on each side, a corrugated skin, steel bumper and curved rear window. Again, the red taillights will glow with power from a 9- or 12-volt power source. Glance up top and you will notice the three Michigan marker lamps.

The underside of the model bus is fully detailed with a fuel tank, exhaust piping and cabling. The red and black power wires for the working lights emerge from a slot on the underside. Rapido did not make an unpowered version for their N Scale bus series. Thus, these wires will need to be either hidden or removed if not being utilized. Lastly, the bus is fitted with real rubber tires on color accurate rims. These tires are an excellent feature – creating an impression of reality. While they do spin 360-degrees with assistance from fingers, do not expect a free-wheeling glide like a Matchbox or Hot Wheels toy car.

For curiosity, the Rapido model bus measures 3 inches in length (the same length as a N Scale forty-foot boxcar) and weighs 0.4 ounces. Conclusion


Growing-up in the Chicagoland area during the 1970’s, I was ecstatic to place my pre-order with Rapido in the spring of 2021. Living near a major transit depot, the GMC ‘New Look’ Bus is one of the visions of my childhood. First, the Rapido Trains model is well-made and might be one of the most detail accurate N Scale vehicles on the market. Furthermore, the 3D scan blueprint, optional detail parts and rubber tires exhibit the immense level of creativity and thoroughness held by the Rapido team.

While the powered lights are a nice addition – be prepared to utilize that function, in my opinion, to justify the $30-$40 price tag (plus whatever shipping, fees, taxes, etc.). Or get ready to be content with an expensive, highly detailed three-inch plastic model.

Overall, an exceptional representation that will LOOK great servicing your local town.

To see a list of all cars in this series, CLICK HERE

About the Author

CNW400 became enamored with trains while watching the ‘Green & Yellow’ double-decker cars clad with shiny green windows (C&NW) rumble by his childhood house in Chicago. His first train set was the Tyco Bicentennial model in 1976. Always a fan of the railroad, CNW400 is newer to the hobby, active for the last four years (now that all the kids are grown-up!). Furthermore, he is also a collector of railroadiana focusing on lanterns, locks & keys and insulators.