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.
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.
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%.
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
Collins Bus Corporation -
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