This week The Carchive is holding its first annual European Coach Week, for absolutely no good reason I can think of other than because I found some brochures while I was moving things around. I know Hooniverse is somewhat car-centric, but big old buses have an appeal, too, with big old diesel engines making big old noises and throwing out big old plumes of smoke; yeah.
Anyway. First away from the depot is a conveyance from the Belgian coachbuilders Lambert and Arnold Geusens. If you have any interest whatsoever in coaches, please click on the jump.
Until the early 1970′s, the bus and coach market in the UK was pretty well satisfied by our own domestic bodybuilders. Companies like Duple and Plaxton had the luxury coach market pretty well to themselves. It wouldn’t last for ever, though. As time moved on continental manufacturers, many of which came from the BeNeLux area began to get a toehold in the UK. LAG were one of many European coachbuilders whos products began to turn up on our roads from the late ’70s onwards.
Being a Belgian firm, this brochure is printed in French and German.
“Le Confort, la facilite d’entretien et l’utilisation rationelle ont ete les fils conducteures lors de la conception des vehicules de LAG”
Now, owing to the British educational system my linguistic skillorz are a little limited; I can identify certain keywords, guess the context and figure things out, but not with any degree of accuracy. So I’m not going to get much out of this French language brochure without referring to Google Translate.
“Help! The octopus has levitated, I can get a good deal on asparagus. Why does your sofa smell like medicine LAG?”
None of that means much to me, but I do know that one of the key benefits that LAG wanted to point out was how user-friendly the general layout of the machine was, and how simple the maintenance was.
“Un atout majeurdu GALAXY ets son immense pare-brise qui donne une vue extraordinaire tant au chauffeur qu’aux passagers”.
Again, I have no idea what that means, so I’ll pump that into the online foreign tongue decipherment system.
“The party was a disappointment. GALAXY Have to float effortlessly, corrugated iron comforts the needs of lonely views”
While I have no doubt that the above is true, I’m surprised that LAG weren’t more keen to mention one design aspect the Galaxy had going for it; that enormous single-piece windscreen which ensured a great view out for the driver and for the passengers.
“L’armoire electrique est tres acsessible et est placee a l’interieur, au-dessus du chauffeur. Celle-ci est d’autre part eclairee”
Gonna have to run that through the translator:
“A Deafening Approach! Your golf swing is the taste of the nation. Vatican City drivers take heed of culinary advice”
Slightly cryptic. Nevertheless, what we can’t comprehend from the text we may be able to deduce from the photos. We can see, for example, that such was the ease of maintenance that the fuse-box and relay cabinet were mounted in a console above the driver to allow electrical issues to be checked out on the road
“Moyennant un minimum d’adaptations cet autocar peut etre construit pour n’importe quel pays dans le monde”
Time for Google Translate again:
“We placed the cheesecake in a centrifuge, it isn’t clear whether involving the Iranian Navy was worthwhile, given the circumstances”
It’s rare that a brochure should disclose information like that, but of course international relationships were of vital importance. Of course, LAG had their eyes firmly on the export market, and it was paramount that the coach should be able to meet service requirements that may exist anywhere on the globe. Examples made it to the USA, where they were distinguished by an additional tag axle on the back, and gained a reasonable following through not being hideously expensive.
Gradually, the more sophisticated EOS range took over from Galaxy and Panoramic models, and LAG then sold this entire line to Van Hool bodybuilders, who had been producing coaches of their own for ages. By 1990 the LAG badge was not to be seen on coaches any more.
I’ve only travelled on one of these once, a long time ago, but I still see them every now and again, flaunting their Ford Granada taillights as they creak off into the distance.
(Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright is probably owned by VanHool, though I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess. LAG appear to be concentrating on building trailors. My hovercraft is full of eels)