Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned a bit about the history of my vintage bus. If you don’t feel like reading a long post, then just scan the subheads to see if there’s anything of interest.
It All Started with a Google Alert
Over a year ago, I started using a search service called GoogleAlerts, which will email you with search results as Google runs into related information on the internet. On the last day of 2010, Google sent me an email that indicated it had found a web site relating to “Flxible Starliner”, which is the brand and model of vintage bus that I own.
A Web Page Reveals a Previous Owner of my Bus!
Upon clicking on the link, I was presented with a photo of a bus (shown above) that looked almost exactly like mine (only the wheels where different and it was lacking some red pin-striping that’s present on my bus). It had the same paint job and was the same year and model. Upon reading another page on the web site, I learned that the bus pictured was owned by a school district in Lovington, NM. When I bought my bus, I was told that it was originally owned by a school district in New Mexico! At that point, I visited the web site of Flxible Owners International where you can look up the serial numbers and original owners of all the buses Flxible has sold. That’s where I learned that two buses were sold to places in New Mexico and only one of which was sold to a school district. I thought I had found my bus!
I Talk to Three Previous Owners!
After finding the web page owner’s phone number, I gave him a call to see if I could learn anything about the history of my bus. He was more than happy to hear from me and spent a good amount of time filling me in about the bus’ history. He also gave me the name and phone number of the person who owned the bus before him, who I also called to get more info. I also made a call to the person I purchased the bus from for additional details. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. 1963-1992: Lovington New Mexico School District
On 7/24/1963 my bus was purchased by the Lovington New Mexico School District and was used as an activity bus. That means it was used by all the sports teams and band to get to various events. The bus was painted with “Lovington Independent School District” in the white area near the roofline and also had a wild cat depicted on the rear of the bus. The school district actually owned two Flxible buses, the other one being a 1951 Flxible Visicoach, which has the same general body style as my bus with shorter windows and a more primitive suspension system. I’ve contacted the school to see if they can find any photos of the bus as it was originally painted, but nobody has been able to find one yet.
2. 1992: Ross B. former Lovington NM Principal
The school sold the bus at auction sometime in 1992 to Ross B. who was the former high school principal, coach and superintendent. He ended up removing all the original seats and had plans to convert the bus into a mobile home. Ross only owned the bus for a short time before he sold it because his wife didn’t like driving a vehicle that did not have power steering. Ross doesn’t remember how much he paid for the bus.
3. 1992-1997: Joe W. in Azle, TX
In 1992, Ross sold the bus to Joe W. for $3500 who proceeded to modify the interior and turn it into a lounge bus by putting many of the original seats back. Joe is the guy I found via the Google search I mentioned earlier. The photo above is of bus historian Bob Redden taking a photo of my bus during a bus rally many years ago. Joe would have loved to have kept the bus, but after going through a divorce, his son needed money for school, so Joe put the bus up for sale.
4. 1997: Roy M. in Amarillo, TX
Roy M. (deceased) acquired the bus next in exchange for loaning Joe the money he needed and trading him a 1960 GM 4104 (shown above). Roy gave Joe the impression that he really wanted the Flxible for himself and didn’t reveal that he had a buyer waiting in the wings. Roy turned around and sold the bus immediately for $8200.
5. 1997-2009: Kim & Dave V. in Alliance, OH
Dave V. ended up purchasing the bus from Roy and proceeded to add red pin-striping, new wheels and a full knotty pine RV interior to the coach. Kim and Dave used the coach on and off for quite a few years.
6. 2009-Present: Me!
After spending well over a year searching for the perfect vintage bus, I bought the Flxible on 10/20/2009 from Kim and Dave! The bus was not actively for sale, but I knew of the owner by looking at the membership list of the Flxible Owners International and asked if I could see it when I while I was in Ohio inspecting another bus. They were more than happy to show me their bus and I later convinced them to sell it to me. I have since gutted the interior, and have replaced the engine, transmission, rear end and all the suspension components. I’m just waiting for the mechanic to finish the chassis upgrades before I can move on to getting a new interior and paint job.