The transit vehicles displayed in this 1950's Gallery were purchased by the city-owned
D.S.R. between 1950-1959.  Despite the postwar move toward larger-size coaches, one
additional fleet of small buses would be purchased to begin the new decade. The electric
trolley-coaches purchased can definitely be considered short-lived in comparison with
the GM "old-look" diesels, which operated on Detroit streets for nearly twenty-years.
© 2006 (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 06-20-10 (addition 10-09-11))
Four-hundred fifty (450) small buses and
eighty (80) electric trolley-coaches were
purchased by the DSR to start off the new
decade.  But perhaps the fleet that would
have the most lasting impact on the city
would be the 355 "king-size" GM diesel
buses that began arriving in 1953.  Not
only would these coaches be used to
replace the city's PCC streetcar fleet, but
would launch the beginning of nearly
twenty-five years of GM's monopoly of the
Detroit transit system.
PHOTO: DSR GM diesel #1291 (Stan Sycko Photo)
The 80 St. Louis Car Company coaches (#9101-9180) were model job 1765.  The coaches were
39-feet long and were equipped with G.E. 1213 motors, and seated 48 passengers. Coach #9128
is seen in this photo parked at the Coolidge Terminal, where the entire fleet was housed.
[DSR files photo, courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
This photo from www.trolleybuses.net shows coach #9124 westbound on Grand River at the
Southfield Road detour during bridge construction on the new Southfield Expressway in 1961.
Construction of the mostly divided highway into an expressway involved removing portions of
the blocks facing Southfield Road, and digging the expressway through the wide center median.
However, only those portions of the freeway that intersected with major roadways were dug
below ground. The rest of the freeway remained at ground level, resulting in a somewhat roller
coaster like affect motorists still encounter today while traveling along the Southfield Freeway.
[Scalzo Collection photo courtesy of Tom's Trolley Bus Pix—Detroit, MI]
Please click-on link to return to the "PHOTO GALLERY" Main Page.
In this July 1951 Detroit News photo, the very first electric trolley-coach to operate along the
Grand River line is seen discharging passengers along State Street east of Washington Boulevard.
The terminus for the Grand River line was located one block east in Capitol Park.  A DSR practice
for many years was to display a "CITY HALL" destination sign for downtown bound coaches,
even though the Grand River line only went to Capitol Park—three blocks from City Hall.
[photo source: eBay online photo – The Detroit News archive collection]
In this photo, coach #9159 is south along Grand River approaching the W. Warren  intersection,
where the east-west Crosstown trolley-coach line intersected with the Grand River line.  This
intersection was the only location where the city's two trolley-coach lines intersected.  The
overhead wiring was strung "two-across-two" with no connecting curves between the two lines.
[photo courtesy of the Illinois Railway Museum, Ohio Brass Collection]
HISTORY FOOTNOTE:  The intersection of Fort and Shelby streets was once the site of Fort Shelby, a
military fort built a few hundred yards to the north of Fort Detroit.  It was built by the British in 1779
to protect the older stockaded city from the oncoming Americans.  Fort Shelby was demolished in 1827.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
In 1950, the Checker Motors Corp. of Kalamazoo, MI bought out its partner Transit Buses, Inc.
Transit Buses now became a subsidiary of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp., with the buses  
now built and sold by Checker.  It's been reported that only about 500 Checker buses were ever
manufactured—the majority of which were purchased by the DSR.  Beginning in October 1950, a
fleet of 450 (31-passenger) Checkers (#7311-7760) began arriving in Detroit.  These were
similar to the 1949 Transits, minus the window over the destination sign.  The Checkers were
assigned to smaller lines, and resulted in the retirement of the last of the wartime Ford Transits.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko collection — for background info on this photo click HERE]
Like the Transits that preceded them, the Checkers also arrived sporting the DSR paint scheme
of mostly cream with red trimming.  However, unlike the Transits, the Checkers sported a cream
colored roof, instead of silver.  In this photo, coach #7750 is north along Shelby at Fort Street,
while working the Tireman line.  The bulk of the Checkers were retired between 1958 and 1960.
Limited electric trolley-coach service began on the Grand River line on July 6, 1951, with full
service phased in as more coaches arrived.  On September 5, 1951, full service began from
Capitol Park downtown to Grand River and Berg
(west of Lahser).  The completed line was built
as far as Grand River and Garfield
(north of Seven Mile Rd) into Redford Township—two blocks
past the Detroit city limits.  Complete service from Capitol Park to the Redford Township loop
turn-around (a 14.13 mile long trip one way) began on October 18, 1951.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
The original livery for the DSR's St. Louis trolley-coaches was cream with red trimming, as seen
in this slide-film image of coach #9172, southbound along Grand River Avenue crossing Hubbell
Street.  One of the advantages of trackless trolleys over streetcars was the ability to offer curb-
side service and to maneuver across lanes of traffic.  The St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church
building in the background, a landmark at that corner for decades, was demolished in 2009.  
[Ken Josephson Collection photo courtesy of Tom's Trolley Bus Pix—Detroit, MI]
These two photos show the interior view of a DSR St. Louis Car Co. built trackless trolley-coach,
with the left photo looking toward the rear and the right photo looking forward.  According to
the company's literature, the DSR interiors featured 30-inch wide aisles for easy movement and
maximum standee space, with adequate illumination being provided by overhead light fixtures
located over every seat plus dome lights along the center-aisle ceiling.
[St. Louis Car Company promotional ad photos courtesy of Tom's Trolley Bus Pix—Detroit, MI]
I guess one of the major advantages to assigning certain fleets to a specific line was selective
advertising.  As seen in this photo, Rund Autos — located at 3801 Grand River at National
renamed Cochrane Avenue, after former Detroit Tiger and Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane)

basically had a moving outdoor advertisement on wheels traveling along Grand River Avenue.  
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
Once downtown, the Grand River line would turn off of State Street into Capitol Park, the end of
the line.  After the opening of the
Capitol Park Terminal in 1955, the Grand River coaches would
enter the park from the Shelby Street side, instead of the Griswold side as in previous years.  In
this slide-film image, Grand River coach #9172 is turning left onto Shelby Street into the park.   
[slide-photo image courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
In this 1961 photo, Grand River (St. Louis Car Company) trolley-coach #9152 is seen shortly
after leaving Capitol Park, heading westbound on Clifford at Bagley Street.  During most of its
earlier years, the Grand River line would leave Capitol Park via north on Griswold, west on
Clifford, south on Middle, then west on Grand River to the city's far northwest side.
[photo courtesy of Tom's Trolley Coach Pictures—Detroit, MI]
(Click-on photo to view larger image)
By the arrival of the 1950s, various makes of gasoline and diesel powered coaches could be seen
operating along the streets of Detroit. In this 1951 photo, taken at the intersection of Woodward
Avenue and Fort Street, DSR Twins, Checkers and GM diesel coaches are all visible transporting
Detroiters to their destinations. The lower floors of the old Hammond Building
(left-center), and
the Penobscot Building can be seen across from the old City Hall.
 (click photo for larger image)
[Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #28313 — see disclaimer below]
In June of 1950, the Detroit Street Railway Commission approved the purchase of 80 St. Louis
Car Company built "trackless" trolley-coaches for service on the DSR's Grand River line.  The
coaches were ordered in July of 1950 and were delivered between June and September of 1951.
[photo courtesy of the S. Sycko photo collection]
HISTORY FOOTNOTE:  The intersection of Fort and Shelby streets was once the site of Fort Shelby, a
military fort built a few hundred yards to the north of Fort Detroit.  It was built by the British in 1779
to protect the older stockaded city from the oncoming Americans.  Fort Shelby was demolished in 1827.
THE 1920's
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THE 1930's
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THE 1940's
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THE 1950's
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THE 1960's
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THE 1970's
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THE 1980's
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THE 1990's
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THE 2010's
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THE 2000's
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