Crown Coach Corp.
ON THE BOOK SHELF
By John M. Malecky November, 2023
Crown Coach Corp.
School Buses, Fire trucks and Custom Coaches
By Louk Markham
FSP Books & Videos
433 Main Street
Hudson, MA 01749-1330
This is a soft cover Icongrafix book, measuring 8 ½ by 11 inches. It is the history of the Crown Coach Corporation of Los Angeles, California. Chapter 9, which has only seven pages, is the only part of the book that addresses the Crown Fire Coach, which was an apparatus once described as the “Cadillac of Fire Trucks!”. They were beautifully made, and in a way compactly designed to the naked eye as compared to other brands. I had the privilege of being near many of them when I was stationed in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii for 15 months prior to being deployed to Viet Nam. After seeing a surfboard on a Seagrave pumper while on my way for training, I decided to write an article for Fire Engineering Magazine about surfboard rescue. I wrote to the chief who assigned a captain to work with me and it resulted in my befriending many firefighters, officers and chiefs. The Honolulu Fire Department had many Crowns, and two of them are in the chapter, namely one of two custom rescues and a 1961 85-foot Snorkel mounted on an International conventional chassis with Crown body. It had the longest front overhang I had ever seen. But these two remain as some of my favorite apparatus. The chapter has 15 photos, including a manifold pumper from Los Angeles City, as well as what was called a “Heavy U”, a heavy duty tow truck which responded to rescue calls. There are also a couple of aerials. Crown used the Maxim aerial ladder, however Reno, Nevada had one with a 106-foot Fire Spire aerial. The book photos are mostly black and white, but the cover has three color ones, including a Snorkel from Los Angeles City.
Although Crown dominated the West Coast, they did sell a Snorkel to Forest Park, Illinois (also shown), a Snorkel to Crown Point, Indiana and three pumpers to Montvale, New Jersey. I should also mention that in 1951 they introduced the second cab forward apparatus of which the American LaFrance “700 Series” was the first. This book was reviewed last month. This was Crown’s first and only custom chassis, as they never had a conventional custom one, however they did build on commercial chassis as previously mentioned. All the photos are exceptional in this chapter. I should also mention that in the rest of the book the buses and custom coaches are equally attractive and rare looking. The Crown was an attractive vehicle and although my column is devoted to fire and EMS, the reader will have an enjoyable time perusing the rest of the chapters.