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The Carchive: The LAG Galaxy

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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.

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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.

They continue:

“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.

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“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.

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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)

Currently there are "46 comments" on this Article:

  1. Dean Bigglesworth says:

    Nardi! Lé Granada Asparagus Integrál!

  2. dukeisduke says:

    Do they suffer from turbo LAG?

    • FuzzyPlushroom says:

      I was going to ask about the nature of their turbodiesel powerplants myself, but you've done so more directly.

      • Dean Bigglesworth says:

        Or school buses were mostly* of the pre-AC domestic variety, but fun because the drivers liked to take the speedbumps at speed so if you sat at rearmost row you could jump and accidentally hit your head at the roof… It was fun.

        *Viima, Kiitokori… The honest and durable designs were more recently replaced by lowest bidder POS danish plywood shit.

        Oh and you will want to read the autobiographical stories about bus driuving by Paul Niedermeyer on TTAC. bus drifting? yes.

  3. Manic_King says:

    Nice neutral design, these buses have aged relatively well, compared to some. Original paint schemes are of course as eighties' as can be. I looked for example of badly aged eighties bus but found this monster I didn't know even exists, a 2 story articulated tourist bus by Neoplan:

    <img src="http://busconversion101.com/images/TRD-48-Jumbocruiser-02.jpg&quot; width="611">

  4. skitter says:

    As usual, European Coach Week is a great and important holiday that my employer does not recognize.

  5. Devin says:

    Are those BMW 6-series front indicators? Or are they just something I don't recognize?

    I also thought the taillights were '80s Audi so I'm clearly totally off base with everything.

  6. Alff says:

    Like our own LA Galaxy, did this run on British retreads?

  7. Maymar says:

    I probably would've benefited from Rusty as a French teacher some time around Grade 6, when my enthusiasm for the language began to wane. Or in Google Translate terms, my artichokes are plump and juicy, would you be interested in the works of Peter Lorre?

    Also, a friend of mine has introduced me to the game of "name those stolen lights!" He plays with motorhomes, but we might have to branch out into motor coaches (although I don't know how well poverty-spec North American buses would work out).

  8. Van_Sarockin says:

    Esperanza really is a spoken language!

  9. smokyburnout says:

    Ran some of it through one of those sites that translates things back and forth between languages to create gibberish to see if I could replicate Rusty's results, or really because I thought it would be amusing.
    "The driver and three months of interviews. Depending on the convenience of my list."
    "The main problem is how the blue water witch, as Ray Ray Galaxy of Urdu."
    "To create a powerful Interieur.fr Acsessibl is located on the other side of the age of the driver."
    "Anyway, the reason for the ground control and determine the electoral district."

  10. Mike England says:

    Ah, I love European coach week. I actually used to be somewhat of an expert on motor coaches.
    Mostly I liked the MCIs – it's been a few years; I think they are not made in the USA any longer.
    I've had some experience with a few other manufacturers. I even considered working for Neoplan once.
    they had a bit of a quality issue, it seems. something to do with the training and QC in their southeastern CO facility.
    I don't know if they are still in business or not.
    I have one comment and one question:
    That engine compartment sure looks big with that little bitty engine just sitting right there in the bottom.
    Looks like the bus could be redesigned and put a couple more seats in there, or a bigger bathroom. . .
    and:
    How many eels can a hovercraft hold?

    • Rust-MyEnemy says:

      Alas, Neoplan US are dead, but Neoplan of Germany are alive and in rude health. And a hovercraft can hold six big eels, or fourteen tiddlers.

      • EvanMcC says:

        Not sure what "rude health" means, but Neoplan Germany is a shell of what it once was. It's now owned outright by MAN, and concentrates on 3-4 coach designs. Transit bus manufacturing was discontinued long ago, as well as specialty bus manufacturing — although it does appear a MAN subsidiary now builds the Neoplan apron buses under license.

  11. Manic_King says:

    My irony detector is probably off pre- morning coffee so I will go on embarrassing myself and inform you all that as this brochure is from Belgium, 2 languages are French and Flemish (variant of Dutch), no German there.

  12. Sjalabais says:

    Soooo…what power this machine? Or am I just not good at reading? LAG busses never really catched on in my part of Europe. Irizar and Solaris on the other hand seem to be coachbuilders who have made remarkable inroads in the last two decades.

    • Manic_King says:

      Based on Mobile.de buses from, say 1980 had 250 +- 50 or so hp. LAG buses probably had DAF diesel and manual box.

  13. FЯeeMan says:

    My wife is a Spanish teacher (that's the subject she teaches, not the nation she's from), and always gets a kick out of the online translators. I'll share your results with her.

  14. Evan McC says:

    Interesting brochure. LAG briefly imported coaches to the U.S. in the mid-late '80s, when it seemed every European bus manufacturer thought there was an unlimited market for luxury coaches in America. Turns out there wasn't. Those who survived did so by "dumbing down" the product to U.S. standards — or, at least, the cost levels U.S. operators were willing to shell out for a bus. It's a little hard to sell a sophisticated top-of-the-line Van Hool against a meat-and-potatoes MCI A2…

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