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Crown Coach Corporation
Fate Defunct
Founded Los Angeles, California (1904 (1904))
Founder(s) D. Brockway
Defunct March 1991 (March 1991)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California (1904-1985)
Chino, California (1985-1991)
, United States
Area served West Coast, United States
Industry Transportation
Products School Buses
Fire Apparatus
Parent General Electric (1987-1991)
1977-1991 tandem-axle Crown Supercoach
Crown Supercoach
1989-1991 Crown Supercoach Series II (N-Body) Model 2R-40N-552 or 2R-40N-505
Crown Supercoach II

Crown Coach Corporation was a manufacturer of school buses and fire trucks located in southern California. Crown closed in March 1991 due to declining demand for school buses at the time.

Contents

History

Crown Coach Corporation was founded by D. Brockway in 1904 as the "Crown Carriage Company" in Los Angeles, California, eventually moving factory operations to Chino, California in San Bernardino County. Both factories have since been razed. The property in Los Angeles is now a manufacturing center and the office and paint shed of the Chino property stood for a while longer and were eventually torn down as well. General Electric supposedly owns the site. Since a large number of 30-plus year old Crown school buses are still in service, replacement parts are supplied by West Coach, a company started by a group of former Crown Coach employees.

Crown Coach was the creator of the original large, flat nose (transit style or "Type D"), high capacity school bus. Their first example appeared in 1932. That vehicle still exists today. Beginning as a wagon builder, and shortly thereafter a motorized truck body outfitter, Crown expanded into passenger vehicles which then became its main focus. Working with Tanner Grey Line of Los Angeles, Crown designed the well-known Art Deco coach that eventually led to a school coach utilizing unibody construction, mid-ship underfloor mounted commercial truck engines (often by Detroit Diesel or Cummins; a handful of them had Caterpillar engines) and off-the-shelf Class 8 truck parts, which made them economical to operate. Starting with steel skins, Crown later switched to rust-resistant aluminum panels.

As regulations changed, the coach evolved into one of the safest, most reliable school buses. They were so well built that one of the factors that forced Crown to shut down was their product's extremely long life.

School districts would send in their aging Crown buses for rebuilding and repainting, and have them returned looking nearly new. The service life of the average school bus today is approximately ten years. There are many Crown buses over 20 years old still plying the roads of California, and in private use as converted coaches. Many Crown buses retired by school districts in the U.S. continue to serve in Mexico as local transit buses, private charters, and even cross-country tour coaches.

From 1951 to 1985, Crown Coach Corporation was also a manufacturer of fire apparatus under the Firecoach brand, it was a 1965 open cab Crown Firecoach that was used to portray Engine 51, during the first two seasons of the NBC/Universal television series Emergency!, the coach actually belonged to LACoFD Engine Company 60, which was located on the Universal Studios lot. In 1974, Emergency! Executive Producer Jack Webb was able to purchase a fire engine, thereby allowing the Crown to return to the use for which it was intended.

After being purchased by General Electric a few years prior, operation ceased in 1991.

Products

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Firecoach

Crown built approximately 880 Firecoach products in the line's lifetime (1951-1985)

Crown Firecoaches
Crown Firecoach
  • Firecoach 1951-1985 — pumpers, tillers, aerials and tenders
  • 50, 65, 75 and 85-foot Snorkels
  • 54, 55 and 75-foot TeleSqurts
  • 100-foot mid- or rear-mount aerials
  • 100-foot tillered aerial-ladder truck
  • Firecoach Squad
  • Water Tenders (tankers)
  • enclosed or open cab pumpers

Crown also built Firecoaches on various truck bodies:

  • Ford C850, C700
  • International Harvester
  • Pierce-Crown
  • Chevrolet Silverado chassis pumper

Crown also built custom fire vehicles from Supercoach and Firecoach chassis:

  • 28-foot bus for Los Angeles County Fire Department 1958
  • Custom-built bulldozer transport using Firecoach tractor for Los Angeles City Fire Department
  • Mobile hospital/ambulance, using Supercoach body
  • Heavy Utility tow truck using Firecoach chassis for Los Angeles Fire Department
  • Open-cab rescue truck using Firecoach chassis for Honolulu, Hawaii Fire Department
  • 2-axle trailer water tank/50-foot TeleSqurt for Tulare, California Fire Department 1975

Motorcoach

Motor homes/Tour coaches

  • Motorcoach/Tourcoach

Highway coaches

  • Highway Coaches
  • Intercity Coaches

City transit buses

During the Post-war period Crown built Ford Transit buses. Crown built the Coachette City Bus from 1961 to 1962.

Transit buses

Buses were built in 35-foot and 40-foot lengths:

  • Transit Coach — Crown Ikarus 286 and Crown Ikarus 416 from Hungary

School buses

1980s Crown Supercoach

Crown's school buses were built with various chassis configurations. Lengths included 32, 35, 36, 38, and 40 feet. Axle configurations included 4x2, 6x2 and 6x4. The buses seated 33 to 97 passengers (90 passengers after 1977).

Pre-Supercoach
  • Crown Model B-3
  • Crown Model D
Crown Supercoach Information
Model Length (ft) Picture Year Introduced End of Production Fuel Type Notes
Crown Supercoach
(C-body)
35
36
38
40
Apple Valley Crown Coach Corporation.jpg 1948 1991 Gasoline
Diesel
Along with introducing the transit-style school bus in 1932, Crown introduced diesel engines (Cummins) to school buses in 1955.
Crown Supercoach Series II (N-body) 40 Crown Supercoach II.jpg 1989 1991 Methanol
Diesel
The Series II was originally designed as a way to accommodate a methanol-fueled version of the Detroit Diesel 6V92 in the rear; it would not fit in the tapered rear end of the Supercoach.

Other Products

Specialty vehicles

  • Security Jail Coaches 1950s — 35-foot and 40-foot chassis; 42-64 passengers
  • Mobile Command unit/Crown Coach HPO Bookmobile for Apple Valley

Trucks

  • Truck cabs and bodies 1910s
  • Federal truck chassis

Aircraft

Crown made aircraft from 1925 to 1933.

  • Kinner Airster Biplanes

Engines

Gasoline
  • Waukesha
  • Hall-Scott
  • International
  • Ford
Diesel
  • Caterpillar 3208 (rear-engine Supercoach II and Firecoach only)
  • Cummins NHH (743 & 855 c.i.)
  • Cummins C8.3 (rear-engine)
  • Detroit Diesel 6v53, 6n71, 8v71, 6v92, 8v92

References


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