The 50s – decade of progress
SetraWorld Magazine

The 50s – decade of progress

Venturing into a new world.

All around the world, the fifties are marked by a spirit of discovery and optimism. The long-playing record causes a stir in the music industry. The first commercial computer launches the information technology revolution. 

The anniversary edition 1951 to 2021.

70 years of Setra, 45 years of the 200 series, 40 years of the double-decker bus, 30 years of the 300 series - the list could be continued. As part of our anniversary, we invite you to a very special trip. Get on board and ride with us. Through seven decades of Setra and the world events around it. What else would you do besides come on a trip with Setra?

All articles about 70 years of Setra

The 1950s are ripe for revolutionary developments, and people are bubbling over with a spirit of exploration and inventiveness. A number of discoveries from this fruitful decade travel around the world – as does Otto Kässbohrer’s idea. In 1951, he introduces a bus with a self-supporting body – the take-off point for an unmatched success story originating in Ulm.

The 50s – decade of progress

In Ulm, automotive engineers are also way ahead of their competition. In 1951, Otto Kässbohrer builds the first self-supporting bus with a body made of welded square-edged tubes. The Setra S 8 creates a sensation in the industry.

The 50s – decade of progress

“The first bus with a self-supporting body, the Setra S 8 revolutionises bus construction.”

The 50s – decade of progress

This photograph amazed the coach world: six men carrying a complete coach shell. A powerful demonstration of its low weight.

The first post-war IAA exhibition is held at the Frankfurt trade fair grounds. At the very first IAA in 1897 in Berlin, only eight motorised vehicles were presented. In 1951, no fewer than 500 exhibitors travel to Frankfurt to present their wares. Since 1950, at the Kässbohrer firm, the company head Otto and his engineers have been working on the development of a self-supporting, frameless bus. And there it is at the 1951 IAA: an absolute sensation and one which ultimately gives the company its name. The first Setra with a self-supporting (“selbsttragend” in German) body, the Setra S 8, revolutionises bus construction through its many innovative technologies and features, such as the rear engine, engine brake, large luggage compartments and high-quality fittings. The latter greatly contribute to enhanced comfort on board. Just a few examples: an advanced solution developed with individual heating channels for each row of seats, draft-free ventilation and a defrost feature on the windscreen. The S 8 is a technological phenomenon and causes nothing less than wonder and amazement in the bus sector.


  • In 1951, at the German Music trade fair in Düsseldorf, the Deutsche Grammophon company introduces the first long-playing record with 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.
  • In 1951, the Remington Rand computer company introduces the ancestor of all computers, the first tube computer, to the market. It is called the UNIVAC 1 and weighs 19 tons.

In March 1955, the compact Setra S 6, the third model in the 10 series, is a real show-stopper at the Geneva Motor Show. It is 6.7 metres long and 2.25 metres wide and captures the public imagination thanks to a whole range of technical innovations. Its handling, ride and comfort come amazingly close to that of a car, thanks to its chassis with independent wheel suspension and swing axles at the front and rear. A rubber torsion-bar suspension ensures excellent road-holding characteristics, and its impressive turning circle of 13.4 metres makes for remarkable agility. There is simply nothing on the market which can be compared to the “Club Bus”, and customers are delighted. The S 6, 1,200 units of which come onto the market, is the smallest Setra ever built. 

The 50s – decade of progress

Those who love travel prefer a Setra vehicle, in this case in the spacious S 12. Up to 46 passengers can find a seat in this elegant bus.

In the summer of 1954, Henry Minor from Continental Trailways, one of the largest bus operators in the USA, travels to Ulm. Greatly impressed with Setra production and with the idea of placing an order for a super-luxurious Setra coach for his company, he sends a telegram to his boss asking him to join him in Ulm as quickly as possible. It doesn’t take long for Maurice Moore to be just as impressed with these coaches, which are equipped with huge luggage compartments, air conditioning, outward-swinging doors, comfortable reclining seats, lavatories, on-board galleys, bars and lounge corners, and will set a new standard for American bus travel. Under the names Golden Eagle and Silver Eagle, vehicles which significantly differ from their European cousins in terms of dimensions and equipment are engineered and introduced to the American market.


  • In 1956, the first transatlantic telephone cable is put into operation. The 3,600-km-long TAT-1 runs along the ocean floor between Scotland and Newfoundland.
  • Sputnik, the Soviet satellite, circles the earth for the first time in 1957. It quickly becomes clear to the USA that the Soviet Union is a challenger in aerospace technology to be taken very seriously.

At the 1959 IAA, Setra brings along yet another first. The Setra S 9, S 10 and S 11 are constructed using the newly developed modular system. They are built using 80 percent identical parts, enabling an exceptionally efficient approach to production. Nonetheless, at the Kässbohrer company, great importance is placed on individualising and customising vehicles. The various models can be built and equipped to meet the needs of specific applications – whether urban transit, regional services or touring.

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