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.
The Henry Ford was founded in 1929 and comprises the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, the Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, the Benson Ford Research Center and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.
Blue Bird No. 1 was scheduled to go on display in the Henry Ford Museum in May.