When travelling by aeroplane was just coming into fashion, Otto Kässbohrer designed a coach that offered more comfort than a luxury jet. One of the two S 150 Panorama coaches built back then enriches the Setra vintage collection today.
Setra Classic – the vintage collection.
The age of air travel for everyone had only just started when Otto Kässbohrer received the order in 1967 from the Swiss bus company Zumstein-Reisen to build a coach for exclusive travel. At this time, the introduction of the new 100 series was pending at Kässbohrer – a good opportunity to combine the design engineering achievements of the new series with extraordinary equipment and a modern design. The result: the Setra S 150 Panorama.
“The stepped high-decker Setra S 150 Panorama with its equipment and comfort details is a precursor for modern coaches.”
The pinion rises boldly from the side wall up to the roof in the shape of an aircraft tail – and makes it easy to guess what inspired Otto Kässbohrer when he put the design for the new luxury coach to paper. In order to further underline the exclusivity of the new bus, the S 150 Panorama was given side-wall panelling made of gold-anodised aluminium sheet metal – borrowed from Kässbohrer’s Golden Eagle models for the US market.
The fact that the concept of a stepped high-decker was chosen is not so surprising from a current point of view; yet the stepped high-decker stood for the ultimate in travel comfort in the 50s and 60s. And so the chassis and front section, based on the 100 series, remain unchanged whilst the rear part of the passenger cabin was raised 30 centimetres. This resulted in an unusually spacious luggage compartment for those days, with a capacity of 12 cubic metres. The rear entrance was moved necessarily to the middle, thus opening up the opportunity for a completely new equipment solution: the underfloor toilet with access via the middle entrance.
In general, the Setra S 150 Panorama 1967 set new standards in terms of equipment. Reclining seats with adjustable backrests, a bunk for the driver, refrigerator, nozzle ventilation and, last but not least, a powerful 50 kW air conditioning unit. The latter is housed in the luggage compartment on the left behind the front wheel and is powered by a separate one-cylinder Farymann diesel motor. A critical benefit: the air conditioning unit can continue to operate when the bus is stationary. Ideal for hot summer days in Italy.
And then the view! If the passenger cabin in the front section alone is appealing with its modern ambience – orange/brown seat covers were the latest thing back then – the elevated rear area, despite its somewhat reduced headroom, impresses with an overwhelming feeling of space. The large side windows, the panorama window in the sloping roof and the clear view beyond the heads in the front rows of seats open up an all-round view of which plane passengers, with their tiny portholes, can only dream. Even the driving comfort is unparalleled. The Setra chassis with air cushioning and single-wheel suspension at the front was not to be beaten back in 1967.
“From a current point of view, the Setra S 150 Panorama was a precursor for many equipment features and comfort solutions.”
With so much luxury, it is not surprising that the workplace on the S 150 Panorama is also right up to date. A cushioned driver’s seat, adjustable using a crank, is just as impressive as the cockpit with its clearly arranged round instruments and switches. Handling the ZF six-speed gearbox with splitter requires some practice, but represented the latest drive technology in its day, as did the six-cylinder Henschel diesel engine, which nevertheless was capable of 215 HP.
From a current point of view, the Setra S 150 Panorama was a precursor for many equipment features and comfort solutions. Yet in 1967, the time for this was not right – not least due to the lavish price that had to be paid for such luxury. For 20 years now, one of two models ever built has enriched the Setra vintage collection and repeatedly attracts ecstatic looks at events and classic vehicle shows – and provides memories of the time when air travel first came into fashion.