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SAU-2 Utility Coach

This 1933 or 1934 Austin Utility Coach was the forerunner of modern rear-engined transit and over-the-road buses. It was the first production model bus to utilize a transverse-mounted rear engine and driven through a transmission and driveshaft set at an angle to the differential. This system developed and patented by Dwight Austin became known as angle drive. The PBM was contacted in January 2017 by the owner of the bus who inquired about its manufacture and also communicated his desire to have it go to a good home. The bus was quickly purchased by member Ron Medaglia who donated the bus to the Pacific Bus Museum along with the cost of transporting the bus to Williams, CA where it is currently stored. The fleet number, serial number, and original owner are all unknown at this time. However, the PBM is reasonably sure this bus was delivered new to either the Los Angeles Motor Coach in 1933 or the Pacific Electric in 1934.

The Austin Utility Coach seating 22 passengers was built at the former Pickwick Stages manufacturing facility in El Segundo, California.. The bus had an aluminum body with the engine mounted transversely at the rear with a unique angle drive. Four were delivered new to Los Angeles Motor Coach in 1933 and three went to Pacific Electric in 1934. Twenty more were delivered to Salt Lake City during those years. 

1933 Austin City Utility Bus Los Angeles Motor Coach Co. bus 3403. Austin City 1933. foto 1942


1933 Austin City Utility Bus – Interior Los Angeles Motor Coach Co. bus 3403. Austin City 1933. foto 1942


Production of this pioneering bus ended when Yellow Coach, recognizing the importance of Dwight E. Austin’s patented angle drive, hired him (acquiring his patent) in 1934. Thereafter, angle drive became a key feature of Yellow Coach and successor GM buses until it gave up bus manufacture.

Note: There are some different understandings on the Internet as to the name of this company vs. the name of the coach itself. Our Pacific Bus Museum research concludes these questions this way:

  • While many people refer to the company name as “Austin”, our understanding is that was the name of the bus.
  • Utility Coach was the builder’s name
  • SAU-2 was the model number of this coach

The details on this page will be updated to reflect this current understanding.

A lot of information has been learned since this Bulletin was created, nonetheless it adds some interesting context:

Motor Bus Society – Austin Utility Coach Bulletin


How You Can Help

As a volunteer orginization, we are always looking for as much help as we can get. If you've got skills and time, and want to get your hands dirty, consider becoming a member.

If you don't want to contribute "hands-on", financial donations for the restoration of bus Utility Coach are also needed at this time to complete this remaining work. All donations for bus Utility Coach will be placed in a Special Fund account exclusively for the restoration and maintenance of bus Utility Coach. Please make a donation today to continue the restoration of bus Utility Coach!

Make a "Pacific Bus Museum" donation to the Special Funds account for for bus Utility Coach.

Support Bus Utility Coach

The Pacific Bus Museum is a non-profit, tax-exempt, volunteer organization registered in the state of California. We were granted tax-exempt status as a non-profit corporation by the IRS under 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code Tax ID # 1683391. Donations to the Pacific Bus Museum are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Restoration Status

Full restoration needed

Ownership Snapshot

Original Owner: Los Angeles Motor Coach or Pacific Electric Ry

Acquired From: PBM member Ron Medaglia in 2017

Current Livery: as found

Technical Specs

Year Built: 1933 or 1934

Manufacturer: Utility Coach Co.

Model: SAU-2 Utility Coach

Serial#: unknown

Powertrain: Engine mounted transversely at the rear with a unique angle drive.

Body: The bus has an aluminum body

See Also


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