Classic German double-deck coach has been instantly recognisable globally for half a century
GERMANY The Neoplan Skyliner double-decker has celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was on April 26, 1967, that the first rolled off the assembly line. Since then, the world’s first double-decker touring coach has had an eventful history. Almost 5,000 have been sold with the seventh generation having been in production since 2012.
It was Konrad Auwärter who developed the Skyliner, a double-decker touring coach which was a new concept at the time. To prove it was suitable for everyday use, he drove the 12 metre-long vehicle from Stuttgart to Brussels.
“At that time, nobody believed that it was at all possible to drive a double-decker on the motorway without it tipping over,” he recalled at an anniversary event. “But we soon convinced the doubters otherwise. From 1969 onwards, renowned transport companies opted to use Neoplan Skyliners, for example Götten in Saarbrücken and TRD-Reisen in Dortmund.”
The founder of the double-decker touring class can not only look back over many years of tradition, but also to great popularity among its customers. This worldwide fleet includes some particularly unusual examples, such as the quad-axle Megaliner or the articulated double-decker Jumbocruiser. It has been used as a 15m quad-axle coach at Cape Canaveral, a shuttle vehicle for a casino in Philadelphia and as a mobile home for a pilgrimage by an Arab royal family.
“The team bus that we built in 1995 for Formula One World Champion Keke Rosberg was a particularly emotional creation for all our colleagues in the factory,” said Konrad. “Rosberg visited the factory himself several times to add additional definitions to this vehicle. The highlight was the stainless steel roof deck with fold-out railings. It was the highest level of bus architecture! The employees were very proud of that bus.”
The Skyliner is now in its seventh generation, yet seems to have lost none of its attraction, as proven by numerous awards. For example, last year saw it take home the IBC Award (International Bus Competition) and the sustainability prize from busplaner, a magazine for bus and group travel companies. Even the Neoplan design is legendary and has been lauded with internationally renowned awards on several occasions in the past.
Today, alongside its use as a luxury touring coach, the Skyliner is winning over more and more transport companies and communities as a suitable vehicle for intercity use. It offers passenger capacity with a high level of comfort, for example on express coach connections between rural regions and regional centres or as school transport. Safety systems include emergency brake assist, lane guard system, the MAN fatigue detector AttentionGuard, adaptive cruise control, the MAN topography-based cruise control MAN EfficientCruise with the EfficientRoll coasting function and electronically controlled Comfort Drive Suspension.