Alphabetical Index|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z


quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

Cotner-Bevington Corp.
Cotner-Bevington Corporation, 1959-1975; Blytheville, Arkansas
Associated Builders
Comet Coach Co.

1959 was a busy year for the small Comet Coach Co., one of Memphis Tennessee's "small 4 (Weller Bros., Barnette/Barnett, Comet/Pinner, and Memphis/Economy Coach)" professional car producers that flourished there in the 1940s-1960s.

Comet sold the Comet name to the Ford Motor Company to use on a new line of 1961 Mercury compact cars. At much the same time they moved into a new modern plant they had built in Blytheville, Arkansas, a small town located just west of the Mississippi River, 65 miles to the north.  Comet's third owner, J.W. (Jack) Pinner, elected to stay in the Memphis area and formed the Pinner Coach Co. in nearby Olive Branch, Mississippi (10 miles South of Memphis) while the two remaining owners -  Waldo J. Cotner (1909-2001) and Robert Bevington (1911-2000) renamed the firm after themselves - Cotner-Bevington Corp. 

In its early years, Cotner-Bevington was more a small conversion firm than a specialized professional car builder, and its products reflected that fact. Cotner-Bevington specialized in Oldsmobiles but also is know to have built a number of Chevrolet and Buick coaches from 1959-1962. General Motors supplied C/B with kits made up of unfinished Oldsmobile Super 88 and Olds 98 cowl and chassis. C-B stretched the wheelbase to 150 inches and equipped the cars with commercial (extra-high) side glass and completely jig-built, all steel bodies. Although they used it in their side windows, C-B didn't go to a commercial glass windshield until 1965.

Starting in 1962 Cotner-Bevington began offering a budget-priced standard wheelbase Oldsmobile coach known as the Seville. Early Sevilles were built on Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 cowl and chassis and included a raised-roof and stock-height windshield and side glass. Starting in 1963 Sevilles included Cotner-Bevington’s characteristic commercial side glass as well. At least one Seville-style coach was built on a 1962 Chevrolet chassis. It still exists and rumor has it that it Cotner-Bevington called it a Greenbriar, not a Seville.  

Today their body lines look awkward but the short-wheelbase Seville coaches (and their competitor's Consorts) are fondly remembered today for their fast acceleration, at least when compared to their cumbersome long-wheelbase brethren.

Divco-Wayne Corp., the parent company of Miller-Meteor, bought Cotner-Bevington in 1965 as a budget companion to their popular Cadillac coaches and from then on, Cotner-Bevington built only on Oldsmobile 98 chassis.

One of the first things done after Divco-Wayne purchased Cotner-Bevington was the assignment to Blytheville of Tom Caserta from the Miller-Meteor plant in Piqua.

Caserta told Bernie DeWinter IV that his job was to change Cotner-Bevington from a small conversion firm to a coachbuilder by standardizing things as much as possible and doing things like a larger coachbuilder would do them. Part of that job involved coming up with a base car specification, and switching to such a package for all cars built by the firm. Essentially, that entailed chassis specs, but it also included standard equipment features such as air-conditioning, radio, etc. Caserta's idea was to make a Cotner-Bevington a well optioned car in standard form, and as a result, Cotner-Bevingtons were the first professional cars to feature air conditioning as standard equipment on all models in 1967. Ironically, a few chassis were ordered without a/c, as there were always a few customers who would demand a car without this feature, but they were a rarity.

In the early 1960s, dealers handling Miller-Meteor, S&S, and Eureka, had to offer other makes of coaches at a lower price in order to be competitive with Superior dealers who could offer a wide spectrum of price range with their Pontiac and Cadillac chassised coaches. Cotner-Bevington suited that need nicely and was popular as a second line, as was National, and other smaller builders.  When it was purchased by Divco-Wayne, existing dealers were now offered both the Miller-Meteor and Cotner-Bevington products, although several elected to stick with other brands and carry only one of the two lines.

Divco-Wayne introduced a Chevrolet Suburban-based Wayne-Sentinel ambulance starting in 1967. Early Sentinels featured a stock roof, but a raised roof soon became available when their production was moved to the Blytheville Cotner-Bevington plant. 

Early Sentinels carried no builder's identity on their exteriors, but little details made their Miller-Meteor ancestry obvious, such as the ambulance identification decals in the quarter windows. Early '70's Cotner-Bevington ambulance literature showed Wayne Sentinels in production in the same photos as Cotner-Bevington ambulances.

Divco-Wayne Corp. was acquired by Boise-Cascade, Inc. in 1968, but the parent firm's takeover had little to no impact on their small Arkansas division.

The popularity of Suburban and van-based modular ambulances and the 1973 EMS Systems Act (see below) struck the death knell for a firm that specialized in building passenger-based emergency vehicles and DIVCO-Wayne closed the division at the end of the 1975 model year. 

Wayne’s Sentinel and van ambulance production moved for a short time to a new facility west of Piqua, Ohio, then finally back to Piqua at Miller-Meteor’s Clark Avenue plant.

(The 1973 EMS Systems Act - passed in 1974, implemented four years later in 1978 - required that communities receiving federal funds for their programs had ambulances that met new federal specifications. Three chassis styles meet the criteria and are still in use today: Type I uses a small truck body with a modular compartment, Type II has a van body with a raised roof and Type III has van chassis with a modular compartment. Passenger-based vehicles were purposely excluded from legislation and the last American-made automobile-based ambulance was built in 1978. However a handful of automobile-based ambulances are still made in Europe using Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S-60/S-80 chassis.)

© 2004 Mark Theobald -, with special thanks to Bernie DeWinter IV.


more pictures




SIA #172, July/August 1999 pp55

The Professional Car - Issue #44 Summer 1987

The Professional Car, Issue #64, Second Quarter 1992

The Professional Car - Issue #99 First Quarter 2001

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

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

Extended Auto Warranties
Are you paying too much? Make sure your auto warranty covers your entire vehicle.

Car Shows
State by State directory of car shows; includes new car shows and classic auto events.

Auto Buying Guide
Paying too much? Use this step by step guide to help get the best deal on your next car.

Car Books, Models & Diecasts
Your one stop shop for automotive books, models, die-casts & collectibles.


Submit Pictures or Information

Original sources of information are given when available. Additional pictures, information and corrections are most welcome.

Click Here to submit pictures or information

Pictures Continued

<previous more pictures next>

quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

© 2004-2012, Inc.|books|disclaimer|index|privacy