Happy Birthday Setra S 6
SetraWorld Magazine

Happy Birthday Setra S 6

Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection.

In 2015, the smallest Setra of all times is celebrating its 60th anniversary. In its launch year, the Setra S 6 for up to 25 passengers surprised experts with truly outstanding coach design and technical refinements which gave it the driving characteristics of an automobile. Today, two models of this historically important coach are enhancing the Setra classic coach collection.

Those were the days! In 1955, the Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO, and the GDR joined the Warsaw Pact, the millionth Beetle rolled off the production line in Wolfsburg, moviegoers around the world were flocking to theaters to see “Rebel without a cause“, starring James Dean, and racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio won the Formula 1 World Championship with Mercedes for the third time.

The world came close to overlooking yet another sensation. At the Geneva Motor Show, Kässbohrer presented the third model in his 10 series, following the S 8 and S 10. No pomp, no show – just a simple sign with an “S 6” inscription announced the new vehicle to the expert audience. Even Richard Gebauer, managing editor of the “lastauto omnibus” journal had to look twice to recognise “that the S 6 model was one of the most interesting vehicles in the hall.” A self-supporting body, front and rear independent suspension, a rear-mounted engine and a cruising speed of up to 100 km/h – all features which had been unthinkable until then in a vehicle class dominated by 1.5 to 2.5-ton front-engine vehicles.

Happy Birthday Setra S 6 - Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection

Just like new: perfectly restored, lovingly maintained.

Happy Birthday Setra S 6 - Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection

Entertainment on the move from Ulm.

Happy Birthday Setra S 6 - Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection

Driving pleasure just like in a car.

In 2015, the Setra S 6 turned 60. And, almost as if time has stood still, the original S 6 from the Geneva Motor Show shines in its original dark-blue colour as part of the Setra classic coach collection. The passenger compartment with its touring seats and the driver’s station with the distinctive round dials are as stunnning as ever. The original from the Geneva Motor Show? Not quite. The 22-seater with chassis number 55587 from the Setra classic coach collection isn’t the exhibition vehicle from 1955. But since its extensive restoration in 2007, it is in fact as close to the original as could possibly be.

Prior to its makeover, however, it experienced some very eventful years. The blue S 6 spent its early youth, beginning in 1958, in Dusseldorf with bus operator Albert Küppers. Although the Setra S 6 certainly wasn’t one of the least expensive coaches for small groups, it nonetheless had to be extremely economical. The 63 kW (85 hp) four-cylinder engine, produced for Kässbohrer by Henschel and which needed only 11.5 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres, was a strong argument in its favour. The small Setra was also very popular among passengers. The low, single-step entry made boarding easier, and the cabin with its 1.85-metre headroom in the center aisle appeared spacious, and the comfortable recliners could be turned toward the center aisle. It offered exceptional visibility thanks to its generous roof edge glazing. And, as far as driving comfort was concerned, the S 6 could effortlessly keep up with any car.

“... with mileage of over 1.5 million kilometres, but still in good condition ...”

Happy Birthday Setra S 6 - Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection

Marvel at this stunning beauty in blue.

And this was exactly the attribute which attracted the attention of the State College of Engineering in Ulm in the early 1960s. A compact coach with independent suspension on all four wheels appeared to be the ideal testing vehicle. The original rubber suspension, as per the so-called Neidhardt principle, had given way to suspension with vulcanised rubber spring elements, which promised less weight and a longer service life with the same driving characteristics. In 1962, the college acquired a red Setra S 6 for performing chassis and torque measurements – in its simplest line version, but with one unusual special customer request. The wheel arches were designed with Plexiglas sections, which enabled a clear view of the suspension at all times. After around ten years and mileage of only 70,000 kilometres, the red S 6 was discarded and found its wasy back to the factory. In the Setra classic coach collection, it is now one of the few coaches which have been preserved unrestored in absolute original condition.

Happy Birthday Setra S 6 - Setra Heritage – the classic coach collection

Looking good on the road.

It was only much later, in 1988, that the little blue S 6 returned. After fifteen years in operation in Dusseldorf and later in Herbede in the Ruhr Valley, bus operators Strasek from Piran in former Yugoslavia took over the coach. With mileage of over 1.5 million kilometres, but still in good condition, Strasek offered the Setra S 6 to Kässbohrer for sale – bringing it personally to Ulm to the in-house exhibition in November 1988.

As important members of the Setra classic coach collection, these two Setra S 6 coaches can be admired today at trade shows and events across Europe, offering not only diehard fans an opportunity to celebrate the milestone birthday of the smallest of all Setra coaches. Happy Birthday Setra S 6!

SetraWorld 53 – 01 | 2014

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