Crown Body & Coach Corporation, also known as the Crown Firecoach Division of Crown Coach Corporation was a custom chassis and fire apparatus manufacturer located in Los Angeles and Chino, California. It's most famous product was the cab-forward Crown Firecoach chassis.
The Crown Carriage Company was formed in 1904 as a horse-drawn carriage manufacturer, moving into truck bodies and buses by 1915. In 1935, Crown introduced the Crown Supercoach custom cab-forward school bus, a ground-breaking design in the school bus field. As the student population exploded during the postwar baby boom, Crown introduced a new mid-engine Supercoach.
During the Second World War, Crown was tasked with building fire truck bodies for the American military. After this introduction into the fire truck business, company engineers developed a version of the Supercoach for the fire service. The first Firecoach was completed in 1951. At this time, only American LaFrance was building cabover apparatus. The Los Angeles City Fire Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department were early and frequent customers through the years Crown was in operation.
The Firecoach was in production from its introduction in 1951 to 1985. It remained relatively unchanged in appearance during that time, although a wide-cab second generation was introduced in 1977. Crown also built commercial chassis based apparatus. In 1960 Crown became the west coast distributor for the Snorkel Fire Equipment Company which allowed them to offer Pittman Snorkels, and later Squrts and Telesqurts. In 1966 Crown entered into an agreement with the Maxim Motor Company allowing them to offer Maxim aerial ladders on a Crown chassis. During the 1960s they also became a dealer for Pierce Manufacturing. Due to this arrangement when Crown's production lines were full, they would occasionally turn to Pierce to complete their commercial chassis apparatus. This has resulted in the odd situation of there being some Pierce built fire apparatus marked with Crown badges.
Crown Firecoaches were available with a variety of engines, but 6 cylinder Hall-Scott engines were the most popular in the 1950s and 60s. Large Waukesha engines were another common choice. Diesel engines were becoming popular in the 1960s and by 1970 most Crown Firecoaches were being ordered with a diesel engine from Cummins or Detroit Diesel.
The vast majority of Crown's sales were in the western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Hawaii. Six were sold in the eastern US, including three to the Montvale Fire Department in New Jersey. Crowns were also exported to Venezuela, Mexico and Kuwait.
In 1982, Crown built its last Firecoach. Another five were built by P.E. Van Pelt Inc. in 1984 and 1985.
Bus production remained Crown's main business. The founding family sold the company in 1979, and it moved from Los Angeles to a plant in Chino, California in 1984. GE Railcar acquired Crown in 1987 and operations ceased altogether in 1991.
- McCall, Walter M.P. Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Fire Engine Manufacturers. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2009.
- Wikipedia article on Crown Coach Corporation. Accessed 27 September 2016.