Big Blue Bus (BBB) 5162 is a 1986 GM New Look (also known as a fishbowl) bus, model T8H5307A, 40 feet in length and 102 inches in width. It features a Detroit Diesel 6V92TA engine and an Allison V730 three speed automatic transmission. The bus seats 53 people and has a wheelchair lift at the front door. The GM New Look series was an iconic bus manufactured by General Motors from 1959 - 1986 in Pontiac, Michigan and Canada. BBB 5162 was manufactured in February, 1986 by General Motors Diesel Division in Canada. The bus was sold to Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines, now known as Big Blue Bus, in Santa Monica, California and was assigned fleet number 5162. BBB 5162 was part of a large order of new buses by Santa Monica and marked the end of production for the GM New Look. Only 18 more New Look buses were produced after BBB 5162 (5163-5180) and then GM shutdown production forever. The last GM New Look to roll off the assembly line was BBB 5180, which is now at the Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, Pennsylvania. During the 27 year production run, GM built 44,484 New Look buses.
BBB 5162 entered service with the City of Santa Monica in 1986. You can click here to see what BBB 5162 would have looked like while in service with Santa Monica in its full Big Blue Bus livery. Based on my correspondence with Big Blue Bus experts, the bus was retired in 2002 after serving the City of Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, LAX, UCLA and surrounding cities for 16 years. The bus was then sold to a private party and a couple of years later changed hands to a second private party. The second private party owned the bus for 10 years.
I purchased BBB 5162 from the second private party on May 24, 2014. The private party lives in Concord, California and I reside in Boise, Idaho. I flew from Boise to Oakland on the morning of May 24, 2014 and took possession of the bus. I then drove the bus home to Idaho, which was a 600 mile journey. The journey took 3 days over the Memorial Day weekend in 2014. The route home was via Interstate 80 in California and Nevada and then north on Highway 95 through Nevada, part of Oregon and finally to BBB 5162's new home in Idaho.
BBB 5162 has nostalgic meaning to me. I was around 10 years old when my mom took me on a fishbowl for the first time, which just happened to be a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. Also, my mom was born and raised in Santa Monica, so she first rode in a Big Blue Bus over 60 years ago. I am saddened to say my mother passed away June 26, 2016. She enjoyed the rides I would take her on in BBB 5162, reminiscing about her past and even taking the wheel at one time.
Here are pictures of BBB 5162:
BBB 5162 getting a wash:
Detroit Diesel 6V92TA engine:
This is me in front of 5162:
This is me driving 5162:
Here is my mother and daughter. You will notice the headsign on the bus shows route 3. My mother grew up on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, so this was the route she always rode.
This is Harry and me. Harry is the previous owner of 5162 and this picture was taken the day I purchased the bus from him on
May 24, 2014. Harry owns the former San Francisco Muni 3626 bus on the right, which is a 1969 GMC New Look. You can see
more about Harry's SF Muni 3626 at his website www.sfm3626.com.
This YouTube video of 5162 was taken by my daughter on July 5, 2014 from inside the back of the bus as I was driving.
This YouTube video of 5162 was taken by my daughter on June 14, 2014 when I drove the bus down the street and back again.
Finally, this YouTube video of 5162 was taken June 7, 2014 when I was teaching my nearly 70 year old mother how to drive the bus. My mom is behind the wheel in the video and she did very well driving a bus for her age and the first time!
If you have any questions about the bus, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me on or the contact form below:
Thank you for visiting and taking the time to learn about my historic treasure!
Click for weather forecast
©2016 - Disclaimer