Home » The Forgotten Elegance Of French Bus Headlights: Cold Start

The Forgotten Elegance Of French Bus Headlights: Cold Start

Cs Berliet Bus

Let’s say it’s because last night was the first night of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, so I’m going to focus on some lights for this weeks’ Cold Starts, at least until I forget, which could be as soon as tomorrow. We’ll see! It’ll be exciting. Today, we’ll look at a really lovely 45-seat bus from 1949, the Berliet PCK7W. This big diesel bus with an engine in a doghouse between the front seats had some really lovely and perhaps unexpected Art Nouveau-inspired detailing.

Here, look at these headlight covers:

Cs Berliet Bus Lightclose

Wow, right? I mean, it’s surprising enough to see headlight grilles of any sort on a public bus, but this one, with its vaguely seashell-inspired motif, is especially wonderful. It’s very Art Deco/Art Nouveau and adds a lot of charm to this big whale’s face.

In fact, it kind of reminds me of another glorious Art Deco whale, the Stout Scarab:

Cs Stoutscarab

Look at the headlight grilles on the Scarab, and the detailing on the rear, in the air intake vents. It’s a similar elegant motif, though the Scarab was a high-end, low-volume proto-minivan, while the Berliet there was, you know, a bus.

If these headlights were weapons in a galaxy a long time ago and very far away, I bet Alec Guinness would say something like this:


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8 Responses

  1. The narrow chrome strips are just so elegant.
    And louvers. I miss louvers. I know they don’t look right unless the vehicle is old enough to at least have pontoon fenders, but I still miss ‘em

  2. You really expect us to believe that solely because it’s Hanukkah, you’re going to focus on lights?
    … y’know what, its the holidays. I’ll believe you.

    Chag sameach, Torch.

  3. Oh for the days when mundane objects had elegant details like this. It’s the midcentury touch that graced even the most utilitarian infrastructure and minor public buildings. Little bits of eye candy in unexpected places.

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