2008: A Milestone for a Longtime Manufacturer of School Buses

October 28, 2008

A new version of the influential and time-honored Blue Bird All American school bus was unveiled at the trade show of the National Association for Pupil Transportation annual conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. These buses are manufactured by the Blue Bird Corporation, which is based in Fort Valley, Georgia, and traces its origins to when founder Albert L. Luce, Sr., first produced a steel-paneled school bus in his automobile dealership in 1927. This company is now one of North America’s leading manufacturers of school buses.  

By the 1930s, Blue Bird school buses had established a reputation for such quality-of-life innovations as all-steel coachwork to further guarantee the safety of students on board in case of accidents. The Blue Bird All American signified the company’s continued efforts to build stronger and more reliable school buses following World War II, and Luce was very much inspired by the designs of various buses that he saw while attending the 1948 Paris Auto Show. 

The Blue Bird All American buses made their official debut in 1952. The Blue Bird All American’s design style was widely adopted throughout the United States, and that vehicle is the longest surviving transit-style Type D school bus created by an American manufacturer. 

While there have been a number of major modifications to the bus over the decades, the innovations that came with the 2008 version (known by its code name D3) marked the most extensive changes to the vehicle in nearly a half-century. A couple of these changes involved revamping the driver’s compartment for improved visibility and ergonomics; and introducing such passenger-friendly measures as readjusting the roof to increase headroom for students whenever they need to stand up in the bus.

Photo Credit: An Errant Knight (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

For more information on the history of the Blue Bird Corporation (originally known as the Blue Bird Body Company), please check out http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/b/blue_bird/blue_bird.htm

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