California Body Building Co. - Pioneer Motor Coach Mfg. Co. - 1923-1930 - Oakland, California


California Body Building Company, Oakland, California

PIONEER STAGE (US) 1923-1930

(1) California Body Building Co., San Francisco, Cal. 1923-­1927

(2) California Body Building Co., Oakland, Cal. 1927-1929

(3) Pioneer Motor Coach Mfg. Co., Oakland, Cal. 1929-1930

A taxicab garage and body-building plant was started in 1914 by W.W. Travis, operator of a San Francisco taxi fleet using heavy-duty White chassis. When these proved too costly for the duty,' Travis stretched their chassis, built new bodies and sold them as "stages" (buses) to associations of California stage operators. By degrees Travis drifted away from the taxi business and into the bus business, forming California Transit Co. to succeed certain of the auto stage associations in 1921. The first all­-metal bus body was completed in 1919, and the first com­pletely assembled bus (earlier ones had been based on White chassis) was put in service during 1923. A six-wheel bus was built during 1923 and 1924, and about 50 were completed, but there were traction problems that led to a change to dual rear wheels. The "Pioneer" or "Pioneer Stage" trade name was adopted in 1924, when sales to other operators began to be significant. "Pioneer Stages" also became the operating name for California Transit Co., which had grown through the years and was by 1925 the largest over-the-road bus system in northern California, comparable to Pickwick Stages in the South.

California Transit was one of the enterprises merged in 1929 to form Pacific Greyhound Lines, and in that transi­tion the manufacturing business became known as Pioneer Motor Coach Manufacturing Co. Only one more batch of buses was started subsequent to the merger, and late in 1929 ownership of the factory was transferred to another Greyhound subsidiary, C.H. Will Motors Co. (see Will). Production of buses at Oakland ended in 1930. Probably about 400 buses were built altogether from 1923 to 1930.MBS


WILL (US) 1927-1930

C.H. Will Motors Corp., Minneapolis, Minn.

The Greyhound system of bus companies purchased the former H.E. Wilcox Motor Co. in 1927 and turned its production over entirely to. buses, most of which were delivered to mid-western Greyhound companies. The operation was named for its general manager, Carl H. Will, and the buses were known at first as "W.M.C." and later as "Will" buses. In response to Greyhound's requirements, Will introduced a redesigned parlor car on 239 or 249-inch wheelbases later in 1927, and with minor modifications these constituted the front line of Grey­hound's fleet until 1930. Waukesha 6-cylinder engines were used, together with Timken axles, robust drop frames (now one-piece side rails) and air springs at the front..As part of the formation of Pacific Greyhound Lines in 1929, the California Body Building Co. of Oakland (see PIONEER STAGE) was acquired, and its buses, slightly modified, became known as "Pioneer-Will" and later as Will. With an order for 60 of these for Pacific Greyhound completed in the summer of 1930, the Oakland plant was closed. In the meantime Yellow Coach and Greyhound agreed on a manufacturing contract, according to which Greyhound would underwrite part of the development expenses of new Yellow models built to Greyhound specifications, and the first purchase contract pursuant to this agreement was signed in November 1929. Greyhound wound down Will production at Minneapolis, the last buses being delivered to Northland Greyhound Lines in January 1931. Virtually all Will buses had Eckland bodies, and very few were ever sold to companies other than Greyhound. Probably about 500 were built.

The corporation continued in existence as Greyhound Motors & Supply Co., directed by Carl Will and located in Chicago, where it operated a bus overhaul and rebuilding plant for the parent company.



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Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

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Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

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