John Steinbeck was a car guy. We know that from his novels – how else would he have been able to make automobiles such realistic characters? His word pictures of Lincoln-Zephyr, Hudson and Dodge touring car in The Grapes of Wrath, and the Model T Fords in Cannery Row and East of Eden demonstrate that he knew whereof he wrote. Thus it comes as a bit of disappointment that the title character of The Wayward Bus (1947, a film version starring Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield was made in 1957) serves merely as a vehicle for keeping his characters in conflict with one another.
This could almost have been Steinbeck’s wayward bus. It’s an Aerocoach
Mastercraft P372, a type built from 1948 to 1952. The Mastercraft was Aerocoach’s intercity bus;
other Aerocoach models were a transit bus and the Astraview sightseeing model with a glass roof. Aerocoach was made by the
General American Transportation Corporation of East Chicago, Illinois. Not to be confused with AM General LLC, one-time bus builder and now manfucturer of HMMWVs and Hummers, General American took over the bus business of Gar Wood Industries in 1939. The Aerocoaches were an entirely new design with tubular body frame, introduced late in 1940. Much rarer than the familiar GM/Greyhound “Silversides,” or even the long-gone ACF Brills, fewer than 3,100 Aerocoaches were built before General American ceased operations. Most Aerocoaches were powered by International engines, some of them diesels. This one has been repowered with a
GM engine, the ubiquitous
Bruce Fullerton discovered this Aerocoach in Austin, Texas, recently. It’s presently stored at Burnet Road Self Storage, but the owner, who apparently used it as a band bus, is behind on his rent. It’s in decent shape, resplendent in
acres of stainless steel and has those
funky arrow turn signals. Imagine your friends seeing it
drive down the street with you in the
pilot house, your name on the
marquee. Just think how the groupies will
By the time you read this, it may not be a wayward bus, but it could well be a homeless bus, or even a dismembered bus. It’s currently under threat of eviction – if you think you might be able to rescue it call Kathy at Burnet Road Storage, 512-453-6302. If it has departed the premises, you will have to contact the Austin Police Department, where Kimberly or Tammy in the Abandoned Vehicle Section, 512-280-0075, may be able to help you. An Aerocoach this rare deserves another flight.