Most Iconic Coach Ever Built? 1986 Crown Super Coach

The seller of this awesome 1986 Crown Super Coach claims it is the most iconic coach ever built in America. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do know it’s an awesome ride! It can be found for sale here on Craigslist with an asking price of $17,500. Located in Southern California, it was supposedly built in Los Angeles, so it may have spent its whole life there. Let’s check out more of this big hauler and thanks to Pat L. for the tip on it!

It’s clear from this photo the engine is a turbocharged diesel, but other than that, there are no details in the ad. The seller does say: “most desired drivetrain.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. In any event, the engine is as clean as the rest of the bus, so hopefully, that means it is reliable as well.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information in the ad, but there are quite a few good photos. Apparently, the owner also has a Facebook page where you can see videos of this coach. Overall, it looks like it’s in great shape and the interior lends itself to a fun party bus, camper, or whatever you can imagine. What would you do with it if it was yours?


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  1. Jack M.

    Right in the heading of the Craigslist ad the engine is listed as a Cummins, Big Cam 3.

    Like 5
  2. TimS Member

    Most iconic, least iconic, nearly iconic, incredibly iconic. What does “iconic” even mean anymore?

    It’s a nice old bus, though.

    Like 6
  3. Tom Bell

    “Iconic”-one of the most over-used words in the English language. If you insist on Iconic how about the Greyhound Scenicruiser or the Flexible torpedo back.

    This one must have been one if the last out the door, plant closed sometime in the mid 80’s. Also known for the Crown Firecoach, a cab-foreward design extremely popular with West Coast fire departments especially the LAFD.

    Like 3
    • Ralph

      The 1958-1977 GM “Fishbowl” buses get my vote for most iconic bus, if there is such a thing.

      Like 2
  4. Tom Bell

    “Iconic”-one of themes over-used words in the English. If you insist on Iconic how about the Greyhound Scenicruiser or the Flexible torpedo back.

    This one must have been one if the last out the door, plant closed sometime in the mid 80’s. Also known for the Crown Firecoach, a cab-foreward design extremely popular with West Coast fire departments especially the LAFD.

    Like 1
  5. RITON

    Makes me think of that film with Eastwood/Dirty Harry vs Scorpio.
    Even if it isn’t the same…go wonder.

    Like 2
  6. upchucked

    Iconic? It’s a 33 year old, worn out school bus. If that is what you are looking for, go for it…

    Like 1
    • RT

      You don’t know Crowns! They were extremely tough buses. At time of sale they came with a “20 year” service life. Because they are true heavy duty vehicles they are infinitely rebuildable. I drove them. I taught people to drive them. They were outstanding coaches and the Rolls Royce of school buses. The other buses mentioned do not compare. I have taken Crowns well back into campsites that many car drivers could not access. The combination of a high floor and midship engine gave them ground clearance and sure footed balance. The only comparable bus was the Gillig. Greyhound type buses were built as intercity coaches – highway! A completely different class of bus.

      Like 1
  7. GeorgeL

    Not sure about iconic. I had never seen a Crown bus until I moved to California back in the ’90’s. Growing up in Louisiana, you tended to see Bluebird or Thomas-built buses. I guess that’s the California mentality, the world revolves around CA.

    Anyway, it looks to be a nice example, but what the heck do you do with an old school bus? I guess it might be worth $17.5k to someone.

    Like 4
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    You should not be lacking in power. Turbocharged/Aftercooled Cummins in this configuration should be good for 400 hp (more if you access the ‘cheat screw.’). BC III? I guess I won’t argue although I see some items that could spark some controversy. Doesn’t matter as I’m sure this has a lot more power than the original.

    Nice bus. I have no idea what I would do with it. Some families that I grew up with could have used it for a family car. I suppose it could be repurposed as a decent RV.

    Like 2
    • Sam61

      Iconic, epic, mac-daddy, quintessential, mother of all buses…

      I would describe it as the Checker cab of the bus world…unchanged design with varied powertrains.

      Nice find!

      Like 3
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I always wondered how engines on their side like this, got proper lubrication. I believe the Crown Coach was almost exclusive to S. Cal. We never saw them in the midwest, just the standard issue IH Loadstar 1600. The smallest BC3 I drove was a 240 and I believe that’s what this is, although, some sites say it was a 220, running through what looks like a straight 5 speed mid-bus under the floor. Make a great motorhome, if you got the talent.

      • Ken

        There were plenty of Crown buses in Washington state, as well as Carpenter, Thomas, Bluebird, Wayne, etc. Districts bought whatever buses they could afford.

        The district I went to school in had a few Loadstars, but they were 1800s.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I’ve seen a number of applications where they’ve tipped the engine on its side and it’s worked just fine. I worked on some Detroit’s in buses that leaked just as much oil as if they were standing up.

        220 hp, that’s what I thought these were powered with. I don’t think they even ran a turbo. I’m sure this one has been repowered, as it’s not only turbocharged but aftercooled. Some later model buses run Cummins C, L, and M series, and they all run A to A aftercoolers. JWAC pretty much disappeared with the 80s…

  9. v

    call the PARTRIDGE FAMILY and let them know the family machine has been updated…would be a great repurposed RV. someone spent a lot of time on this paint job what great detail.

    Like 2
  10. Vegaman Dan

    School buses have to be removed from service after X number of years (Varies by state) and fleets get retired regularly resulting in a lot of well maintained used buses being sold at auction or surplus at $500-2K commonly.

    What can you do with an old bus? A church can still use it legally, but it can’t be used commercially or for any school. So is a big platform that can’t be used for its original purpose. The engines are desirable and these buses get bought for the engine alone, then scrapped.

    Rollback hauler? Customer carrier? RV conversion (These always look pretty ratty IMO).

    Like 2
    • David Ulrey

      I don’t love or hate this. My only comment is that when I saw the picture and read the heading I thought it must be a misprint. The exterior styling just doesn’t look like anything as new as a 1986 to me. Yes 1986 was 33 years ago but this looks (in my opinion) like it would be something you’d see in the late 50s or early 60s. I’m not hating on it a bit, it just surprised me that it was a style from only 33 years ago.

      Like 2
      • Gransedan

        Crown bus styling must not have changed much for over two decades at least. Earlier versions had fully rounded wheel arches without the black edge trim. I road to Catalina Foothills district public schools in Tucson, AZ from 1973 – 1976 in Crown and Bluebird coaches. The district owned it’s own fleet which included four tandem rear axle Crowns, a ’63 and a ’64 with manual transmissions and a ’68 and a ’69 with automatics. They were all identical in exterior appearance. It must have been a real challenge to pilot those four very long buses on the many winding, narrow, hilly roads in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. I confess that to this day, I remain enamored by the retro, rounded styling of Crown buses.

        Like 2
  11. Louis Q Chen

    Seeing the picture of this “iconic” yellow school bus reminded me right away…SOCAL. You see these all over in SOCAL during school hours. I even suggested to In-N-Out to add this bus in their “iconic” logo. Would be a great project to convert it to an RV?

  12. Ken Carney

    How “bout a food truck? You could sure
    sell a lot of tacos and burritos out of that
    thing couldn’t you?!! Or maybe the world’s largest wheelchair van? I say that
    because several of my family members
    have a need for a wheelchair. Wait!…I think I’ve got it! A portable pot dispensary! Or maybe a rolling cat house
    or mobile moonshine still! Just my $.02!

    Like 5
  13. Claudio

    This is what this enligtened californian writes !(Typically I spend a great deal of bandwidth attempting to educate potential buyers to the incomparable build of these custom built California Coaches.
    He spends a lot of bandwith, i think this guy needs a long session in the padded room…

    • RustySax

      Claudio –

      I know the owner of this Crown. He doesn’t need time in a padded room, he just doesn’t suffer fools lightly, nor does he have much patience for people who don’t do any research about the history of Crowns and who then waste his time asking questions which could have been answered had they done a little homework first.

      He also doesn’t sell junk. All of the coaches he’s sold over the last several years have been pristine examples of the mark. He knows what he’s got, he knows the market, he prices them accordingly.

      Oh, and he’s not from Californication, either – he’s Hawaiian.

  14. Bill

    So much bad information in the article and the comments. Crown built this particular style from 1946 until 1991. In 1975 they went from the rounded wheel wells to the square-top wheel wells, but all of them had rubber lips. The Flat-fendered ones were built with pop rivets instead of Gulmite screws. Originally powered by gas engines, mainly Hall-Scott but also International, they began offering Cummins 220s in 1954, then Detroit 6-71s in 1965. This bus was built in Chino, not Los Angeles, after Ronnie Reagan’s buddy Jack Courtemanche bought the company and moved it, then sold it to another scumbag who went bankrupt after changing from marine plywood to particle board for the floors. GE bought it from bankruptcy and then folded the company.

    Like 1
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Bill, we don’t claim to be experts here, including the author. All we can do is piece it together from internet sites, until a real expert, like you, comes along. Thanks for the info.

      Like 1
  15. HotPotato

    The Crown Supercoach is indeed iconic…and not just for the retro-future mega-Twinkie styling which was unchanged for 40+ years. Most school buses are built on medium-duty lowest-bidder beer-truck chassis. Crown built its own chassis, and every mechanical component installed was from the world of 18-wheelers. That’s the reason for the mid engine and the tall floor: there’s literally a semi powertrain under there, cleverly turned sideways to save space. It can be serviced anywhere with standard 18-wheeler parts, and it will outlast any other school bus on the road: a million miles is nothing, and literally the only reason these bad boys were retired after decades of service was because emissions rules required it. The componentry also means a Crown drives like an 18-wheeler, requiring some skill: there’s a rabid enthusiast community that loves driving these things for fun. Every Supercoach was built custom by craftsmen (even lettering was hand-painted) and no two are exactly alike: yours might have a screaming Detroit 6-71 two-stroke or a ground-shaking Cummins Big Cam turbo, a 10-speed manual or an automatic, air suspension or leaf springs, lots of insulation or nearly none, and so on.

    Lest you think it’s all a nostalgia trip, the company also built the “Super II”…same idea but with a modern nose and tail and the first electronically controlled flex-fuel clean-diesel engine in the rear.

    Like 1

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