Setra, from Beer Hauler to People Mover (Page 2)
Slowly, the business grew, transforming for years to come into the most important industrial operation in Ulm. In 1911, the buses manufactured by the company got a boost with the introduction in the city of a bus route between the town centre and the suburb of Wiblingen.
Kassbohrer died in December 1922, leaving behind a company that was now beginning to struggle to make trucks, but was more and more successful at making buses. His two sons, Karl and Otto who, despite their young age (21 and 18, respectively) had been involved in their father's businesses since the early days, took over what was now known as the Erste Ulmer Karosseriefabrik Karl Kässbohrer.
The two brothers split the business in between them, Karl taking over the truck bodies and trailers operations and Otto the bus and passenger car bodies one. For the next three decades, the business the two brothers ran grew and expanded upwards and sideways, bringing to market several firsts: the first ever self-supporting vehicle of the company, the Lancia Lambda-based sports car of 1928 (by now, the company did body-on-frame work for several car manufacturers), the invention of the curved, glass-edged roof seen on the post-war luxury buses (for the first time used on a bus ordered by bus operator Franz Schindele), the use of pneumatic tires or the features that have made the German buses of the pre-war era famous: toilet, kitchen facilities, on-board radio or the Aurora heating system.
BIRTH OF SETRA. THE S 8
The first IAA International Motor Show of the post-war era, which took place in 1951, saw the introduction of the first ever Setra bus, the S 8. Setra, which is an abbreviation of the word selbsttragend (self-supporting in German), was about to become a competitor of US-based Gar Wood, which had been selling buses with self-supporting bodies and rear-mounted engines in Europe with the help of French company Isobloc.
Until the 1950s, the main idea which defined the Kässbohrer company was the use of the same design of chassis whether the vehicle was going to carry goods or passengers. In the gold years of the post-war era, that was no longer a viable choice.
The Setra S 8 marked the departure from those principles. It was constructed out of welded square tubes, allowing for mass production of the model, it had a lower weight and a load capacity of 3.7 tons and it came with a rear mounted 5.43 liters 512 DG Henschel engine.
With a top speed of 86 km/h and a fuel consumption figure of 19l/100 km, the S8 came as not only one of the best buses to that date, but also a series of firsts and trademark characteristics: compressed-air brakes on all four wheels, engine brake as standard, advanced bus heating and ventilation system and a curved rear section equipped with a broad flap.
The company responsible for the S 8 became at about the same time the first ever bus producer to offer Europe's first articulated bus, based on a two-axle MAN MKN 26 motorized unit and a two-axle trailer car developed by Kassbohrer.
Since the introduction of the S 8, 60 years have passed, and the company kept itself busy all this time. It has launched during five bus model series since: the S 8, the 100 (1967), the 200 (1976), the 300 (1991) and the 400 (2001). Now, Setra is getting ready for the 500 series. One that is hoped to get the name into the second half century of its life.
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