Collins Industries Inc. - 1971-present - Hutchinson, Kansas


   

Collins got into the funeral car business in late 1982. Its first ads featured artwork of a short wheelbase Cadillac sedan conversion, and I've heard that it built one such car and showed it at a funeral directors' convention, where it didn't go over well. Not long after that, it introduced a pair of Cadillac hearses on extended chassis, with the stretch being done either at the B or C pillar, and the tail extended. The timing was right for those cars, because dealers who took on Collins as a secondary line were able to sell a lot of those cars in the next few years.

The two legendary 1983-1984 Miller-Meteor three-door Eldorado hearses were the brainchild of Spencerville, Ohio's Jack Hardesty, the owner of a small funeral home supply company called the Barron Corp. Hardesty was also Lima, Ohio's first sports and imported car dealer and went on to found the Lima Coach Co, a hearse conversion company that specialized in Dodge Caravans.

When Miller-Meteor went out of business in 1979, Barron Corp. purchased the trade name of the once-famous coachbuilder. He also owned the local Ziebart franchise, and most of the work on the second Eldorado was done in the large Ziebart shop. Bud Bayliff assisted Hardesty in building and engineering the first 1983 Eldorado prototype which was constructed at Bayliff's Lima, Ohio body shop.

In late 1984 Hardesty sold the rights to the Miller-Meteor trade name along with the tooling for the Eldorado coaches - which also happened to fit Cadillac's new 1985 front-wheel-drive DeVilles - and the second 1984 Eldorado prototype to Collins Industries of Hutchinson, Kansas. Hardesty's front drive tooling was the basis for the 1985 Collins-built Miller-Meteor-Cadillac front drive coaches which were produced in Hutchinson  through 1992.

Like Eagle in Amelia, Collins kept working at it and developing, and eventually introduced an all new side servicing hearse in the late '80's. In 1992, it was purchased by the parent company of Eureka in Norwalk, Ohio, and production was moved to Norwalk. By that time, the hearse division had been spun off from the rest of Collins for some time.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com, with special thanks to Bernie DeWinter IV.

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Collins Industries, Inc. was founded in 1971 as a manufacturer of small school buses and ambulances built from modified cargo vans. The company's initial product was the first "Type A" school bus, designed to carry 16 to 20 passengers. Today the Company manufactures specialty vehicles and accessories for various basic service niches of the transportation industry. The Company's products include ambulances, small school buses, shuttle and mid-size commercial buses, terminal trucks, commercial bus chassis, road construction equipment and industrial rental sweepers. From its inception, Collins' stated goal has been to become the largest manufacturer of specialty vehicles in the U.S. The Company has grown primarily through the internal development of new products and the acquisition of complementary product lines.

In the U.S., Collins in the largest manufacturer of ambulances, the second largest manufacturer of terminal trucks and a leading manufacturer of small school buses, and sweepers used in the road construction industry. The Company sells its products under several well-known trade names, including Wheeled Coach (ambulances), Collins Bus and Mid Bus (small school buses), World Trans (commercial buses), Capacity (terminal trucks) and Waldon/Lay-Mor (road construction and industrial rental sweeper equipment).

Most Collins products are built to customer specifications from a wide range of options offered by the Company. Collins sells to niche markets which demand manufacturing processes too sophisticated for small job shop assemblers, but is not the highly automated assembly line operations of mass production vehicle manufacturers. The Company emphasizes specialty engineering and product innovation, and it has introduced new products and product improvements, which include the Moduvan ambulance, the first ambulance of its size with advanced life-support system capability, the Dura-Ride suspension system, the first frame-isolating suspension system for terminal trucks, and the innovation of a larger seating capacity, Type A Super Bantam school bus capable of carrying up to 24 passengers, the largest Type A in the industry.

http://www.collinsind.com/

15 Compound Drive, Hutchinson, Kansas - 67502-4349

Collins Industries, Inc.. The Group's principal activity is to manufacture specialty vehicles and accessories for various basic service niches of the transportation industry. The Group operates through three segments: Ambulance, Buses and Terminal trucks and road construction equipment. Ambulance segment manufactures modular and van type ambulances for sale to hospitals, ambulance services, fire departments and other governmental agencies. The Bus segment produces small school buses, commercial buses and shuttle buses for sale to schools, hotel shuttle services, airports and other governmental agencies. The Terminal trucks and road construction equipment segment produces off road trucks designed to move trailers containers for warehouses, truck terminals, rail yards, rail terminals, shipping ports and a line of road construction equipment. Ambulance accounted for 48% of 2002 revenues; Buses, 33% and Terminal trucks and road construction equipment, 19%.

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Mid-Bus Mid Bus, based in Bluffton, Ohio, offers a complete line of quality Type-A school buses. The Mid Bus product line includes 10-48 passenger school, church, activity and child care buses, a variety of ADA compliant lift models and a full line of single-rear and dual-rear wheel models. Mid Bus units are designed to meet the needs of child care operators, Head Start agencies, YMCAs/YWCAs, non-conforming van replacement, church transportation, school activities and contractor services.

Mid Bus provides, through their national distribution network, a safe and economical alternative to van transportation for church, child cares, school activity vans, and private school transportation.

Mid Bus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Collins Industries.

Collins Industries, Inc. was founded in 1971 as a manufacturer of small school buses and ambulances built from modified cargo vans. The company's initial product was the first "Type A" school bus, designed to carry 16 to 20 passengers. Today the Company manufactures specialty vehicles and accessories for various basic service niches of the transportation industry. The Company's products include ambulances, small school buses, shuttle and mid-size commercial buses, terminal trucks, commercial bus chassis, road construction equipment and industrial rental sweepers. From its inception, Collins' stated goal has been to become the largest manufacturer of specialty vehicles in the U.S. The Company has grown primarily through the internal development of new products and the acquisition of complementary product lines.

In the U.S., Collins in the largest manufacturer of ambulances, the second largest manufacturer of terminal trucks and a leading manufacturer of small school buses, and sweepers used in the road construction industry. The Company sells its products under several well-known trade names, including Wheeled Coach (ambulances), Collins Bus and Mid Bus (small school buses), World Trans (commercial buses), Capacity (terminal trucks) and Waldon/Lay-Mor (road construction and industrial rental sweeper equipment).

Most Collins products are built to customer specifications from a wide range of options offered by the Company. Collins sells to niche markets which demand manufacturing processes too sophisticated for small job shop assemblers, but is not the highly automated assembly line operations of mass production vehicle manufacturers. The Company emphasizes specialty engineering and product innovation, and it has introduced new products and product improvements, which include the Moduvan ambulance, the first ambulance of its size with advanced life-support system capability, the Dura-Ride suspension system, the first frame-isolating suspension system for terminal trucks, and the innovation of a larger seating capacity, Type A Super Bantam school bus capable of carrying up to 24 passengers, the largest Type A in the industry.

Collins Bus Corporation - www.collinsbus.com
Nationwide distributor of small, Type A-I & AII school buses from 16 to 30 passengers.

Wheeled Coach Industries - www.wheeledcoach.com
The world's largest manufacturer of ambulances and emergency service vehicles.

Capacity of Texas - www.capacitytexas.com
Established in Longview, Texas, in 1971 as a manufacturer of specialty vehicles used to move semi trailer equipment from point to point by means of a hydraulically activated fifth wheel.

World Trans, Inc. - www.wtrans.com
World Trans, Inc., offers a full line of small to medium-sized buses for transit, charter, airport, and shuttle applications.

Mid Bus Corporation - www.midbus.com
Mid Bus is a U.S. manufacturer of Type A-I & A-II school buses, from 10 to 48 passengers.

Waldon Equipment - www.waldonequipment.com
Waldon Equipment manufactures construction equipment, street sweepers, and loader backhoes for use in industry, construction and landscaping.

Lay-Mor - www.laymor.com
Lay-Mor manufacturers rental equipment, street sweepers, and loader backhoes for use in industry, construction and landscaping.

 

    For more information please read:

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company : a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Donald F. Wood - American Buses

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks

 



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