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Automobile Coach Co.
Automobile Coach Company, 1910s-1930s; Kansas City, Missouri
Associated Builders
Fessler Auto Top Co.; Fessler Auto Body Co.

Little is known about the Automobile Coach Co., Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri other than the firm was founded in the teens by Carl Butterfield to produce commercial vehicle bodies for metropolitan Kansas City businesses.

In 1924 William L. Fessler, the firm's vice-president, left to start his own business, the Fessler Auto Top Co., which was located at 1943 Broadway, Kansas City. The firm was reorganized as the Fessler Auto Body Corp. on June 17, 1927. At that time Fessler Auto Body's officers were as follows: Wm. K. Fessler, pres.; Harold H. Fessler, secy-treas.; Wm. L. Fessler, mgr. On June 28, 1932, the Fesslers filed for bankruptcy.

However, Fessler's former employer remained in business, producing commercial vehicle and professional car bodies into the mid-thirties.

One of the firm's coaches remains today and was recently offered for sale at a number of collector car auctions. The survivor, which shows only 30,200 miles on the odometer, was built on a 1932 Ford V-8 chassis in July of 1932 and because of unbelievably good luck and caring owners, has been preserved in “The best original condition of any 32 Ford I’ve seen in over 50 years,” according to the auction catalog. The coaches' original blue mohair is in excellent condition with minor wear and normal aging. The original 6-volt siren works perfectly. The wood body frame is original and appears to need absolutely nothing.

Converted when new by the Automobile Coach Co., Inc., its combination hearse/ambulance coachwork is the only vehicle built by the firm currently known to exist. Automobile Coach extended the Model 40 Ford  commercial car chassis to a wheelbase of 146 using a Reeves cut-frame extension unit, the finest available at that time.

The pillar-less combination coachwork includes jump seating for emergency personnel as well as small rollers inlaid into the floor that allowed bearers to slide the casket from either side of the vehicle allowing for easy loading and unloading of the casket. A large side-hinged rear door also allowed access to the rear compartment from the rear.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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