Corporate Coach - 1984-1990 - Coachworks by Donalson 1990-1993- Springfield, Missouri


In 1984, Doug Donalson joined the newly formed Corporate Coach as plant manager, where he continued his groundbreaking work. Under Donalson's stewardship on the factory floor, Corporate Coach quickly became a dominant player. Donalson says today, "I take pride in not being a copy of anyone else, and when I went over [to Corporate Coach], I looked at everything from before that I thought was a weakness and changed it." There Donalson developed one of the most unique and successful designs of the modern limousine, the wide body. He says, "We were looking for something to sell to the private market, something not too much more expensive, so that people could afford it."

Donalson had just finished a side project to widen the bed of his pickup truck and was applying his kustomizer impulses to a Datsun 240-Z, which included 'juicing it up" with a Corvette engine. ("That thing could go," he says.) With the pickup truck in mind, he tore the sports car's body apart and made it wider.

Applied to a limousine, the concept took off. "That's all we advertised for two years," Donalson recalls of Corporate Coach's stunning new product. "It sold all the other cars, too:" A customer saw one on a California freeway, tracked down the maker, and ordered one from Donalson himself. Donalson says "there was a line of people" waiting to buy the cars, and it took six weeks to build each car: Livery services used "Wide Body" as part of their names and logos. Atlantic City operator Vic Galgano recalls the reaction to the cars: "They went bananas over it. The high-rollers and the casinos got into arguments over who got to use the wide bodies." Donalson says, "It's amazing how those cars are still on the road. I still get calls from people looking for a part or something."

Corporate Coach maintained an extensive list of private clients who brought in for stretching every type of luxury car, including BMW, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, and Jaguar. In 1988, the company was recipient of special praise from Missouri Governor John Ashcroft, who acclaimed it for "exemplifying excellence in manage­ment, marketing, and manufacturing." After the industry shakeup of 1989-1990, and despite the governor's blessings, the company was out of business by late 1990.

In February of 1992, Craftsmen Limousine took over part of the former Corporate Coach Works plant and Doug Donalson re-emerged with his own Coachworks by Donalson, from where he carried on with his incomparable work. In 1993, the new owner of Executive Coach Builders, Dave Bakare, hired back Donalson, where he remains today.


    For more information please read:

Larry Plachno - Craftsmen Limousine: A Success Story in Mid-Size Buses - National Bus Trader - April, 2003

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

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

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

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company : a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

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

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999



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