This type of bus is iconic to San Franciscans of a certain age, for it carried them to school, to work, to shop, and to play for well over a decade.
Founded as Mack Brothers in Pennsylvania in 1900, and currently owned by Volvo, the company because famous for its tough-as-a-bulldog trucks. In fact, the bulldog became Mack’s symbol. Back in the day, if someone appeared looking beat up, they might be told “You look like you were hit by a Mack truck!”
But for a time after World War II, Mack also built buses. When Muni needed to replace its aging fleet of White Motor Co. gasoline coaches in the mid-1950s, and money was very tight, Mack was the only bus builder willing to lease a large fleet of buses to Muni, rather than requiring Muni to buy them.
The Macks were the first diesel-powered buses acquired by Muni. The first group of what would ultimately become 450 Muni Macks arrived in November 1955. This bus was part of the second group, arriving in 1956. More new Macks continued to arrive until 1960. The lease agreement called for the buses to be replaced with new models after just six years of service, but Mack exited the bus business before that, and most of the Macks ran a dozen or more years before Muni began replacing them in 1969 with GMC “New Look” buses.
While the buses in the Mack fleet looked identical (except for a single rear window on later deliveries), some were geared lower than normal for use on steep grades, while others were geared higher for use in “Freeway Express” service.