Colorful South American Buses, Part 2

Link - article by Avi Abrams

If you are braving some of the riskiest roads, you might as well have a colorful ride!
DRB Time-Slice: 1969 Vehicles: Latin America Buses

Continuing with our theme from the previous 1966 Time-Slice, here is a smorgasbord of various interesting buses and truck-conversions from different countries in South America, most of them using standard production models from the 1960s and 1970s - just wildly embellished and decorated.

Ornate Venezuelan Buses from the 1960s

"While an inexpensive bus service is available to most destinations throughout the country, the high incidence of criminal activity on public transportation makes bus travel inadvisable." Such is the admonishment and a solemn advisory that a curious tourist will find on amny websites today when planning to cross South America by bus. While it certainly can be true in rough areas and during unstable political times, there is no denying the added sense of adventure and excitement when you board some of these beautiful "heroes of mountain highways".

This "Chiva" bus criss-crosses Colombia:

(image credit: Chris)

Another "Chiva Cootransmayo 234 El Pepino", seen in Colombia:

(image via)

Bus transportation historically is the most popular (and sometimes the only available) way for local population to get from one place to another, especially if destinations are strewn across mountain ranges. Roofs are typically utilized to carry passengers, or a huge load of cargo:

But if bus travel stayed essentially the same, the amount of ornamentation on buses increased significantly: left image shows buses in Venezuela in the 1950s, while the right image shows over-the-top Haitian bus decorations:

And now... this example is perhaps the utmost in all-out bus decoration (seen in Jamundi, Colombia):

(images credit: Vicente Luna)

Antennas! Lots of antennas:

Pictures of Jesus grace the back of the bus, place a lot of other... elements:

See it full-size in all its glorious detail here.

This Chiva truck is bursting with fun and simply "shouts" its message, which happen to be "Contraband Love" (seen in Quito, Ecuador):

(image credit: MotoPeru)

Here is a wildly decorated bus in downtown Cochabamba, Bolivia:

(image credit: Proplinerman)

Beautiful Streamlined Examples

Here is the 1960 Mercedes-Benz O-321, made for Linea Angostura S.A., serving the Greater Caracas Area (also used in large numbers in Brazil):

(image via)

Here is a truly beautiful model (still in use in Brazil), maybe my favorite of all 1960s streamlined buses, Mercedes-Benz O321H:

(image via)

(image via)

(images credit: Carlos Alexandre Cordeiro da Costa e Silva, Fabio Fereira)

Custom "Flxible" bus seen in 1966 Venezuela:

(image credit: University of North Texas)

The Flxible Co. (originally the Flexible Sidecar Company) made some nice streamlined coaches, such as this 1947 "Clipper" model (similar ones were still in use in Venezuela by 1966):

(image via)

When same bus models were made (and used) in Spain and Portugal, they looked quite plain and "normal":

(image via)

But when launched on local lines in South America these buses each become an individual, unique piece of art - as each driver is allowed to add ornaments and custom-painted elements to his vehicle.

In the neighboring Colombia, the 1960s buses were also quite colorful entities, such as this Dodge Gasolina III -

(image credit: Alejandro Curvelo)

Here is the BlueBird-based Venezuelan San Cristobal-Tachira Express:

(images credit: Pablo Acevedo, Jose Miguel Gomez, Alfredo Montes de Oca)

This one is a converted Ford truck, seen in Colon, Venezuela: Jeepney "Chicken / Customized" Buses

(image credit: Chamo Estudio)

Converted Ford trucks proved to be very popular on local bus lines, as well as various Jeepney "Chicken / Customized" buses. However, inside some urban areas buses can be incredibly primitive and ugly-looking "things on wheels":

(images credit: Gaygles, Denise B.)

They put route particulars, destination and other text right over the driver's windshield, so I am not even sure how driver can see the road!

Some of the "box buses" were even converted to railcars:

(image credit: Werner & Hansjorg Brutzer)

On the other hand, buses on Aruba and Curacao (just off the Venezuelan Coast) boast bright, outrageous colors:

(image credit: Wayne Dunbar)

Here is, for example, the famous "Banana Bus" from Aruba, the favorite with hippies (complete with green lizards on the hood):

(image via)

Modern Venzuelan and Colombian buses can be quite interesting-looking, too - such as this "Expreso Trejos" coach, built on Mercedes-Benz OH-1636L chassis:

(image credit: Joseba Mendoza)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on this post!!!
The last picture (Expreso Trejos) is from Colombia, not Venezuela.

JEO, Bogota

Blogger Unknown said...

Great pix.

A couple of errors:
The bus bearing registration number 253 KTA isn't Venezuelan; it's a 1950s Bristol in the livery of an English West country operator, Royal Blue
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Blue_Coach_Services). For some reason a Venezuelan travel blog seems to have used the image, hence, presumably, its inclusion here.

The monochrome image just above the really wacky Jamundi, Colombia image does seem to be from Venezuela (the destination boards are in Spanish, not Portuguese).

For anyone interested, the 'Contraband Love' bus is based on a '40s - '50s Commer truck.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Andy, wonderful info, article updated

Blogger Daniel Tavernaro said...

I visit the site for years! Congratulations!
And ... I am Brazilian, I know quite my country. About 20 years ago I do not see no sign of Mercedes-Benz O321H. That picture is a car collector's show. Not sure if there is a law that regulates the exchange of bus time to time, but the fleet is no longer profitable to from the 6th year. Thus, theoretically, there is a return.

Today, the vast majority of coaches are air-conditioned; and urban, younger, more comfort. Even in the inner cities.

When we see older buses, are on average between 1980 - 2000 .... And are private bus, or shell companies or "hinterlands" of Brazil, there is still enough poverty and difficulties in almost everything.


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