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Economy Coach Co.
Economy Coach Company, 1940s-1955; Memphis, Tennessee
 
Associated Builders
Memphis Coach Co.; Meteor Motor Co.
     

Economy 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. Located at 2087 York Avenue in Memphis, the firm was run by J.K. Barnett and J.B. Norfleet. 

(Economy Coach's general manager J.K. Barnett (no e) is often confused with Guy Barnette who owned Barnette Co, Economy's direct competitor in the Memphis professional car business.  However there was no relation between the two men)

In sparsely populated areas of the country funeral directors were usually responsible for a region's ambulance service and Economy specialized in combination coaches specially built built for dual ambulance/funeral service.

Economy manufactured Professional Cars on stretched Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and Pontiac chassis. In the early 1950s their expensive coaches were built on Chrysler chassis, and their lower-priced models were built on cheaper Chevrolets and Pontiacs.

Economy was a sub-contractor to Meteor Motor Co. of Piqua, Ohio, and built their budget-priced Pontiac coaches from about 1951-1953. An early 1950s Chrysler coach attributed to Meteor was likely built by Economy as well.

General Motors stopped building Pontiac sedan deliveries at the end of the 1953 model year and small professional car builders who used Pontiac chassis were forced to switch to the much more expensive Pontiac station wagons. The additional costs involved eventually forced a number of them out of business.

Economy also built a few flower cars, one was built in 1954 on a long wheelbase Pontiac commercial chassis that featured a curved-glass rear window.

1955 Economy Coaches were all-new and featured very distinctive stamped steel upper door frames and flat commercial side glass. Ambulances were also available with panoramic rear corner windows.

Sometime during 1955, J.B. Norfleet left the firm and J.K. Barnett reorganized the firms as Memphis Coach Co. I have 2 different pictures of the same 1955 Pontiac combination car with commercial glass identified as an Economy Coach in one picture and as a Memphian (the name used by Memphis for their coaches) in the other. The reorganized firm stayed at the same address, 2087 York Avenue. Memphis and closed sometime in 1961.

There's currently a Sayers & Scovill and Superior dealer in Collierville, Tennessee that calls itself Memphis Coach but it's unrelated to the older firm.

(For more information on Memphis please see Memphis Coach Co.

(For more information on Barnette see Guy Barnette & Co.)

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

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Pictures
1951 Pontiac Economy Service Car
   
 
   
 
References

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

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

   
 
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Auto Buying Guide SafeCarGuide.com
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Pictures Continued

1953 Pontiac Economy Ambulance

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