Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pickwick Stages was an interurban and long distance carrier based in Los Angeles whose origins can be traced to 1912 and which was an important element in a diver­sified holding company known as the Pickwick Corp. In the early days Pickwick operated Pierce-Arrow passenger car chassis, stretched and extensively reworked and equipped with locally-built open bodies. The rebuilding work and construction of bodies was undertaken at the­ company’s own shops after 1924, when Pierce’s model Z bus chassis came into use. Packard, White, Fageol and other makes were used too. Features introduced as early as the mid 1920’s included reclining seats, kitchens and lavatories.

The first attempts to build up complete buses from purchased parts were apparently made in 1927, and the most spectacular example of this operation was the Nite Coach, first shown to the public in the fall of 1928. The Nite Coach was of all-metal chassis-less construction, based on longitudinal beams on which the body was mounted and from which the axles were hung. There were two levels and intermediate aisle from which passengers could enter 13 interlocking compartments, each accomm­odating two people. Each compartment had its own running water, dressing room, storage space, and folding berths, two lavatories and a kitchen being provided elsewhere in the bus (which operated with a crew of three). The purpose of the Nite Coach was to shorten travel times on long western routes by eliminating overnight hotel stops, and the concept was that the buses would be built and owned by Pickwick but leased to local operating companies, as with U.S. Pullman cars on the railroads.

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