FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Albert “Buddy” Luce Jr., son of Blue Bird founder Albert Luce, has donated Blue Bird No. 1 — the company’s first steel-bodied school bus — to The Henry Ford, a group of historical sites in Dearborn, Mich.
Blue Bird No. 1 was built by Albert Luce Sr. Luce owned Ford dealerships in Fort Valley and Perry, Ga., and in 1927, one of his customers requested a vehicle to transport workers to a cement plant. Luce bought a wood-bodied bus and sold it to the customer, but the wood deteriorated before the customer could finish paying for it.
Luce researched other bus-building techniques and constructed a body using steel angles and channels, steel sheets, wood and canvas. He then mounted it to a Ford Model T chassis. The new bus was sold to Frank Slade of Marshallville, Ga.
“Donating Blue Bird No. 1 to The Henry Ford at this time is meaningful to me for many reasons,” Albert Luce Jr. said. “Last year was the 80th anniversary of Blue Bird [Corp.], and I feel this is a great way to acknowledge that milestone.” Blue Bird No. 1 will be a valuable addition to the institution's collection, he added.
Blue Bird No. 1 will go on display in the Henry Ford Museum in May.