Crown Coach Corporation was founded by Don M. 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 but was once slated to be converted to a prison before concerns regarding contamination arose; the office and paint shed of the Chino property stood for a while longer, but were eventually torn down as well. 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 (cab-forward 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 using 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.
Crown’s Supercoach school buses were known for strength and durability, built of 90,000 psi steel, with an expected service life of 20 years. This became a factor contributing to Crown’s shutdown in 1991, because competitors produced less expensive buses made of 45,000 psi steel. The service life of the average school bus today is approximately ten years. There are many Crown buses well over 20 years old still plying the roads of California, most notably those of the Los Angeles Unified School District, 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.
After being purchased by General Electric in 1987, operation ceased in 1991. Crown’s difficulty in competing with manufacturers of smaller, less durable and cheaper school buses was cited as a primary factor in GE’s decision to leave the school bus market.
(Thanks to Wikipedia for allowing the use of company history)
Late 80’s, Early 90’s Crown Body Style.
Mid 70’s Crown bus.
Anderson City tandem Crown.
Last of the breed.
Modesto Schools, California.
1985 Tandem Crown.
Los Angeles Schools Crown, sitting on the beach.
1969 Crown drivers area.
Interior view from the same bus.
1952 Crown Supercoach from Los Gatos.
LA Unified Schools.
Sweetwater Union Tandem Supercoach.
Ventura Unified School…One of the last Crowns.
Los Angeles Pacer Crown.
Long Beach California.
More to Come!