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Polaris - A Legend Has Been Saved

We brought home the last Ikarus bus from Great Britain. The Ikarus 489 Polaris was designed and manufactured in the former Mátyásföld factory, and it was one of Europe's most innovative city buses back then. At the same time, this type was the last successful product of Ikarus for export.

“We saved the last bus of the Ikarus factory, which has just been withdrawn from the streets of England” – said Dávid Vitézy, General Director of the Hungarian Museum of Transport.

The bus which has just returned to Budapest was manufactured in 2001, and was meant to be the Ikarus of the 21st century at that time. 11 pieces were manufactured altogether for the United Kingdom, where they ran, operated by Arriva. The vehicles were built on a DAF undercarriage; and with their brand-new design and technological solutions they were regarded as a significant development, hence they have run in the British capital up until today. The right-hand drive city type was introduced in 2000. It was partly low-floored and its indoor design was more detailed and more developed than its contemporary models from family type 400, which are still running in Budapest today: the cabin was devoid of visible screws and edges which are prone to cause accidents. Although not more than 11 models could have been built due to financial reasons, the designers and engineers of the legendary Ikarus factory had proved that they are capable of designing up-to-date buses for Western-European markets – even at the beginning of 2000s.

The Ikarus factory sold 300.000 vehicles to foreign countries, so Hungarian buses are far from being memorable legends exclusively of Hungarian roads. Between 1948 and the beginning of the 2000s 354 Ikarus buses were exported only to Great-Britain – the Ikarus Polaris among them. At the same time, Polaris was the last piece of the factory which was manufactured for unique needs. Hence, experts had the feeling that they are saving an important milestone of Hungarian automotive industry and transport history from wrecking and forgetting. The bus was brought home from the Arriva site, Cleckheaton (near Leeds, England) the vehicle arrived home to Budapest on ferry and – in order to safely carry the bus – on trailer truck.

The renewing Museum of Transport bought one of the last ten Ikarus 66 “Faros” buses in the end of last year. The fact that we have brought the Polaris home further reinforces our mission to save those significant, legendary vehicles which are still missing from our collection.