By Dave Millhouser
If you want to know the history of buses and bus transportation in North America, “SEDAN BUSES And Other Unusual Small Vehicles In Passenger Service” is the place to start.
The book was written by well-known bus industry historian and writer Bill Luke and Linda L. Metler, with photo assistance by Bob Jensen.
For those unfamiliar with his sterling career, the 93-year-old Luke is a heroic figure in the bus business. Following his service in World War II he became a lifelong industry participant, journalist and advocate.
He and his late wife, Adelene, deftly combined love and understanding of the industry with real journalism. They founded and published Bus Ride magazine and the Bus Industry Directory, sponsored Bus Ride maintenance forums and wrote a number of books.
What sets Luke apart is that for many years he rode buses to cover industry events all over the country. He is the real thing.
As with all of Luke’s books, this one is meticulously researched and well written. It contains more than 100 historic photographs. But “SEDAN BUSES” manages to offer a whole new perspective on the history of the intercity bus industry.
Virtually every large bus operator in North America got its start with some sort of “sedan bus,” which you could loosely define as a multi-passenger vehicle with no center aisle.
You’d have to stick with the loose definition because there was a huge range of technological variation, some clever, some quirky. Design was dictated by the body builder’s skills and the odd demands of the operators. “Unusual small vehicles” is an understatement.
Virtually all North American motorcoach builders at least dabbled in sedan buses, along with body building companies with specialties as wide ranging as trucks, ambulances and funeral cars. Nearly every manufacturer that ever built a car or truck at least attempted to supply chassis for sedan buses.
It becomes quickly apparent that Luke has captured the dawn and evolution of the industry using sedan buses as a sort of lens.
Through text and photographs you can get a clear understanding of how both the industry and many companies that are still part of its backbone got their start.
The technology is fun, but the history is fascinating.
“SEDAN BUSES And Other Unusual Small Vehicles In Passenger Service” can be ordered from William A. Luke though the mail at Fairwinds, Apt. W124, 520 E. Holland Ave., Spokane, WA 99218 or by calling 509-328-2494.
The book costs $26, including postage and handling, with an additional $4 charge for Canadian and overseas orders.
Dave Millhouser is a bus-industry marketing consultant and freelance writer. Contact him by email at Davemillhouser@gmail.com.