When people discover my love for Crown school buses, they figure I spent my childhood on the West Coast riding them to school and back. That isn’t quite the case. I was raised in Carmel, Ind., just north of Indianapolis, and we didn’t have Crown buses. I grew up riding buses manufactured by Blue Bird and Thomas Built Buses. To tell the truth, I did not even know what a Crown Supercoach was until recently. I had seen them on TV, but didn’t know what company manufactured them. All I knew was that they were predominantly West Coast school buses. Because I had only seen them on TV shows that took place in California, I called them "California buses" for lack of a better term.
An odd, but intriguing, bus
I always thought Crowns looked quite odd, like something out of the past. But I couldn’t seem to get the image of them out of my head. One fall evening in 1998, I decided to investigate them. Using the Internet, I discovered a Website that listed all sorts of school bus manufacturers. It also had photos of their products. I scrolled down the list until I came across a manufacturer I had never heard of before, and there I spotted them. . . school buses built by Crown Coach Corp. in Los Angeles. That was it! And how that one little excerpt from a Website has changed me forever. While visiting California last spring, I finally had the chance to ride in a Crown. It was the best bus ride that I ever had! I can’t describe it, but those who have ridden in or driven them probably know what I’m talking about. The ride was so nice that I decided to get a Crown bus of my own. To that end, I contacted a gentleman who had obtained some retired models from Calaveras Unified School District in northern California. For $2,500, he parted with one of his buses. That money came out of my savings. I also sold one of my saxophones to repair the bus.
A proud owner at age 16
On May 23, 1999, at the age of 16, I became the proud owner of a 1969 Crown Tandem Axle Supercoach with a rebuilt Cummins 220 engine (turbocharged and rated at 262 hp) and an Allison HT70 six-speed automatic transmission. Since moving from Indiana to Southern California, I’ve been able to spend more time with the bus. Taking care of it is more than I bargained for, but I am learning something new about it every day. (I pay nearly $150 per month to store the bus in Irvine, Calif., not far from where I live.) I hope to restore the bus to its original appearance, and then I’d like to take it to Crown Firecoach Enthusiast Club meetings and other bus shows. Who knows, after being repaired and restored, it might even end up in service again for a charter business! At this point, I cannot drive my bus. I don’t even know where to begin in learning how to operate it, but that doesn’t bother me. I have it now; that is all that matters. I love my bus, and I plan to keep it around for a very long time. After all, it’s not just a bus, it’s a Crown! If you would like to read more about me and my Crown, please visit my Website at www.crownbus.com. I can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].
Katrina Falk is a high school student at Saddleback Valley Unified School District in Southern California.