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Freightliner FS-65

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Freightliner FS-65
Shelby County Bus 99-55.jpg
1999 Blue Bird/Freightliner of Shelby County, Alabama
ManufacturerFreightliner Custom Chassis (Freightliner LLC)
ProductionJanuary 1997-December 2006
AssemblyGaffney, SC
Body and chassis
ClassType C (conventional)
Layoutconventional 4x2
Body style(s)Cowled chassis
Vehiclessee listing
RelatedFreightliner FL60
Engine(s)Caterpillar 7.2L 3126 I6
Caterpillar 7.2L C7 I6
Cummins 5.9L ISB I6
Mercedes-Benz 4.3L MBE904 I4
Mercedes-Benz 6.4L MBE906 I6
Transmission(s)5-speed Fuller manual
Allison 2000 automatic
Allison MD3060 automatic
Wheelbase150–276 in (3,810.0–7,010.4 mm)
Curb weight18,000–35,000 lb (8,164.7–15,875.7 kg) (GVWR)
PredecessorFord B-Series (indirect)
SuccessorFreightliner C2

The Freightliner FS-65 is a cowled bus chassis (conventional style) that was manufactured by Freightliner from 1997 to 2007. Derived from the Freightliner FL-Series medium-duty trucks, the FS-65 was produced primarily for school bus applications, though commercial-use buses and cutaway-cab buses were also built using the FS-65 chassis.

While developed by Freightliner before its acquisition of the Ford heavy-truck product range at the end of 1996 (and medium-duty truck lines were not included as part of the sale) the FS-65 would go on to serve as an indirect successor of the long-running Ford B-Series chassis. After 1998, Ford concentrated bus production towards van-derived chassis, leaving Freightliner to acquire much of the market share of full-size bus production owned by Ford.

The FS-65 chassis was assembled in Gaffney, South Carolina by the Freightliner Custom Chassis subsidiary of Freightliner; as an incomplete vehicle, the chassis was shipped to body manufacturers for final assembly of a bus. After a total of 62,764 units were produced, the final Freightliner FS-65 chassis rolled off the assembly line in December 2006.[1]

Model history

1997-1998 Crown by Carpenter body on an FS-65 chassis
1997-1998 Crown by Carpenter body on an FS-65 chassis
Freightliner FS-65 in Moscow (Blue Bird body)
Freightliner FS-65 in Moscow (Blue Bird body)

Following the 1991 introduction of the Business Class medium-duty trucks, Freightliner Trucks began development of a school bus chassis based upon the vehicle. In May 1996, the first prototype (with a Thomas body) was unveiled.[2] The first completely new school bus chassis introduced since the 1980 redesign of the Ford B-Series, the Freightliner school bus chassis (later named the Freightliner FS-65) was scheduled for mid-1996 production;[2] the first Freightliner bus rolled off the assembly line in January 1997.[3]

The FS-65 distinguished itself from other school bus chassis by the standardization of hydraulic anti-lock brakes at the time of its introduction (two years before their requirement in 1998).[2] In tandem with the sloped hood, to aid driver visibility, the design of the chassis used a raised platform for the driver's seat.[2] Although the FS-65 was designed alongside Thomas Built Buses (a company which Freightliner acquired in 1998), the Freightliner chassis was made available to other body manufacturers. As a result of the driver's platform, many bus bodies saw revisions to their designs to accommodate the FS-65 chassis, including windshield redesigns or the standardization of high-headroom bodies.

During its production run, the FS-65 chassis saw relatively few changes. For 2002, the Mercedes-Benz MBE900 diesel engines were added to the powertrain line as an option. For 2004, the Caterpillar 3126 became the Caterpillar C7 (as part of an emissions upgrade). A redesign of the instrument panel adopted a new instrument cluster, shared with the M2 and Sterling trucks.

In 2001, Freightliner introduced the second-generation Business Class, the M2. In 2004, the Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 was introduced as the school bus variant of the M2. Sold alongside the C2, the FS-65 remained in production into the 2007 model year; the final Thomas school bus based on the FS-65 was produced on December 13, 2006.[1]

The 2006 discontinuation of the FS-65 marked the end of the FL-Series (alongside its severe-service variants), as medium-duty production ended after 2004.

Body manufacturers

At its 1997 launch, the FS-65 was widely available to manufacturers throughout the industry with a notable exception. AmTran never offered the chassis with its bus body (as the company was owned by Navistar International, one of the largest competitors of Freightliner).

Following the 2001 closure of Carpenter and the 2002 withdrawal of Corbeil from full-size bus production, Blue Bird ended the use of Freightliner chassis (in favor of a proprietary chassis, the Vision), leaving Freightliner subsidiary Thomas Built Buses the sole user of the FS-65 chassis for school bus production.

Freightliner FS-65 body manufacturers
Body Manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation Crown By Carpenter

(later Carpenter Industries, Inc.)

Les Enterprises Michel Corbeil, Inc. Thomas Built Buses
Model Name Conventional Classic (Crown by Carpenter)

Classic 2000 (Carpenter)

Conventional Thomas/Freightliner Saf-T-Liner FS-65
Production 1997–2002 1997-1999
1997–2002 1997–2007
Notes Discontinued in 2002. Crown by Carpenter Classic: four-piece windshield

Carpenter Classic 2000: two-piece windshield (only version sold in that configuration)

Corbeil/Freightliner buses were sold only in Canada.

After 2002, the FS-65 was sold only with a Thomas body.

Sold alongside Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 after 2004.


Freightliner commercial bus (with a party/limo bus body)
Freightliner commercial bus (with a party/limo bus body)

The Freightliner FS-65 is notable as the first all-new school bus chassis in North America sold exclusively with diesel engines. Initially available with Caterpillar and Cummins diesel engines (shared with the Saf-T-Liner transits), in 2002, the FS-65 introduced the Mercedes-Benz MBE 900 diesels as an option.

An Allison 2000 automatic transmission was the standard transmission sold with the FS-65, with the Allison MD3060 as an option. A rarely-ordered option included a Fuller 5-speed manual transmission, making the FS-65 one of the last school buses sold with a manual transmission.

Freightliner FS-65 powertrain
Engine Configuration Production Fuel Output Transmission
CAT 3126 /C7 7.2L inline-6 1997-2007 Diesel 190-250 hp 5-speed Fuller manual and Allison 545 automatic
Cummins ISB 5.9L inline-6 1997-2007 185-250 hp Allison 2000 and MD3060 automatic
Mercedes-Benz MBE900 4.3L inline-4 (MBE904)

6.4L inline-6 (MBE906)

2002-2007 MBE904: 190 hp

MBE906: 190-250 hp


  1. ^ a b "Saf-T-Liner FS-65 (Type C, Retired) - School Bus - Thomas Built Buses". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  2. ^ a b c d "Freightliner -- News". 1998-01-18. Archived from the original on 1998-01-18. Retrieved 2017-02-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Freightliner -- News". 1998-01-18. Archived from the original on 1998-01-18. Retrieved 2017-02-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

Freightliner Custom Chassis: School Bus Specifications | FS-65 Spec Sheet -archived

See also

This page was last edited on 6 August 2020, at 01:26
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