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Comet Coach Co.
Comet Coach Company, 1955-1959; Memphis, Tennessee; 1959-1960; Blytheville Arkansas
 
Associated Builders
Cotner-Bevington Corp., 1960-1975; Blytheville, Arkansas
     

The Comet Coach Co was one of Memphis' "small 4 (Weller Bros., Barnette/Barnett, Comet/Pinner, and Memphis/Economy Coach)" professional car producers that flourished there in the 1940s-1960s.

Founded by Waldo J. Cotner (1909-2001), Robert Bevington (1911-2000) and J.W. (Jack) Pinner (1904-1989) in 1955, it was located at 3723 Lamar Ave. (or US 78), and specialized in Oldsmobile and Chevrolet conversions but is also known to have built some DeSoto and Chrysler limousines (1956-1959) plus a handful of Buick, Plymouth, and Imperial ambulances (1957-1959).

A representative 1955 Oldsmobile long wheelbase ambulance features an awkward stepped raised roof that starts at the 12" wide B-pillar which allowed them to use stock rear doors sourced from an Olds wagon.

At least one Comet flower car still exists. It's a 1957 Oldsmobile and is owned by the P. Jay Kraeer Funeral Home of Deerfield Beach, Florida. It was one of three built on stretched (by 26") 1957 Oldsmobile Starfire 98 chassis' and features an aluminum flower tray with integral casket compartment.  

A slightly modified 1957 Chevrolet Comet Junior hearse was exhibited at the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania during the late 90s. Comet built both three- and five-door versions of the Chevy in their Junior Series and this one was a three-door version built using a standard wheelbase sedan and features a raised fiberglass roof, landau bars and a side-hinged rear cargo door.

Comet advertised an attractive line of DeSoto and Chrysler limousines and coaches from 1956 through 1959. The also built a few Oldsmobile and Chevrolet long-wheelbase limousine that were built using the same rear doors that were used in their ambulances and funeral coaches.

1959 was a busy year for Comet. They sold the Comet name to the Ford Motor Company to use on a new line of 1961 Mercury compact cars and moved into a new modern plant they had built in Blytheville, Arkansas, a small town located just west of the Mississippi River, 65 miles to the north.  Comet's third owner, J.W. (Jack) Pinner, elected to stay in the Memphis area and formed the Pinner Coach Co. in nearby Olive Branch, Mississippi (10 miles South of Memphis) while the two remaining owners renamed the firm after themselves - Cotner-Bevington Corp.

Before the 1959 reorganization, Comet built a special one-off 1959 Crown Imperial ambulance in the Blytheville plant that was know as the Blue Guardian. It was built on special order for the Mullen Ambulance Service of St Louis, Missouri and was designed by Mullen's owner, Guy Mullen. 

Two young Memphis brothers with last name of Henry worked for the Comet Coach Co. part-time during high school. By the late 1970s they had moved to Manila, Arizona and produced a number of stretch limousines on Buick and Cadillac chassis as the Henry Bros.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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Pictures
1955 Pontiac Comet Ambulance
   
 
   
 
References

SIA #172, July/August 1999 pp55

The Professional Car - Issue #44 Summer 1987

The Professional Car, Issue #64, Second Quarter 1992

The Professional Car - Issue #99 First Quarter 2001

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

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

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

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

   
 
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Pictures Continued

1956 Oldsmobile Comet Limousine

1957 Oldsmobile Comet Combination Coach

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