Prevost Coaches

by John Veerkamp

Company History

Prevost is best known for its remarkably styled coaches and motor homes, which have been the company's main products since the end of the 1960's. From modest beginnings, the company has become the second largest coachbuilder in North America.

In 1924 Eugene Prevost, a cabinetmaker in the province of Quebec, Canada, built his first wooden bus body. In 1945 the first all metal coach was built and bus building gradually became the firm's main activity. During the 1950's, however, Prevost, like many small bus builders at that time, was hard hit by declining markets and competition from GM. Only a handful of buses was built in the mid 1950's. In 1957, Paul Normand bought the company and re-organized it. Various transit and intercity models were built with moderate success, but total production from 1943 to 1970 was less than 1000 vehicles. The big change came with the introduction of the "Super Panoramique" in 1966 and the Panorama, with the characteristic curved side windows, in 1968.

The Super Panoramique went into production in 1967 and was renamed the Champion. It was a 3-axle 40-foot coach with slanted windows and was built until 1981. Most were 96" wide, though a handful 102" wide models were also built. There were also a few 35 foot, 96" wide buses. The Champion was the first 40-foot coach in the industry other than Trailways' Eagles and Greyhound's Scenicruisers.

The first Panorama coaches were built specially for Murray Hill and featured the curved side windows that would make Prevost famous. Tecnically it was similar to the Champion. In1971 it was made available to other operators and in 1973 it was renamed the Prestige. Like the Champion it was built until 1981. There appears to have been built one 35-foot Prestige, but the standard version was 40 foot long and 96" wide.

The Le Mirage was introduced in 1976 and also featured the curved side windows. It is easily distinguished from the Prestige by the lack of the "step" in the roofline. From 1983 onwards a 102" wide version of the Le Mirage was built as the Le Mirage XL. This one became the standard and Prevost's best-selling coach. The XL-version also received new sqaure head lights and a different tail-light group. There have been a few 35-foot Le Mirage, though most of these were motor homes.

The Champion was replaced by the Marathon in 1983. The Marathon has larger, square windows and lacks the step in the roof. The 102" wide version was called the Marathon XL, later abbreviated simply to Prevost XL.

In 1985 Prevost presented a truly revolutionary coach: the H5-60. It was a 5-axle 60-foot long high coach, with a fully paintable exterior. While not many have been built, the design was used to further develop the H-series. The H3-40, 40-foot long version, was introduced in 1989. A 45-foot long model, the H3-45, was introduced in 1994. This included a number of technical improvements over the H3-40. As a result, the H3-40 was replaced by the H3-41, a shortened version of the H3-45. The H3-41 can easily be distinguished from the H3-40 by the trapezoidal first side window.

While the H-series sold well, the Le Mirage XL also remained very popular and Prevost continued to offer it. A 45-foot version, the Le Mirage XL45 was introduced in 1995.

The Le Mirage was redesigned and succeeded by the 45-foot Le Mirage XLII in 2000. While this vehicle retains the curved side windows, it has a fully paintable exterior. The bonded windows add to the modern look of this coach.

An important part of Prevost's output is motor homes and entertainment coaches. The company has become the market leader in this segment. The various Le Mirage, Marathon and H-Series body shells are adapted with custom-built interiors.

In 1995 Prevost Car Inc. was acquired by Volvo from Sweden and Henly's Group PLC from the UK. Volvo's involvement has led to an important modernization of the production process. Currently, Prevost is the second most important coachbuilder on the North American market, after MCI.

Sources:

  • Prevost website: (http://www.prevostcar.com)
  • Plachno, Larry. Modern Intercity Coaches, 1997

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