The Henry Ford acquires first steel-bodied school bus

Jan. 1, 2020
The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Mich., has acquired Blue Bird No. 1, the first steel-bodied school bus built by Albert Luce Sr. in 1927.
Untitled Document

The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Mich. has acquired the first steel-bodied school bus, Blue Bird No. 1.

Blue Bird No. 1 was the first steel-bodied school bus built by Albert Luce Sr. in 1927. Luce was the owner of Ford dealerships in Fort Valley and Perry, Ga., when one of his customers requested a vehicle to transport workers to a cement plant. Luce bought a wood-bodied bus that he sold to this customer, but the wood deteriorated before the customer could finish paying for the vehicle.

Luce investigated ways of building a better bus and constructed a body using steel angles and channels, steel sheets, wood and canvas. He then mounted it to a 1927 Ford Model T chassis. This new bus was sold to Frank Slade of Marshallville, Ga. to be used as a school bus.

“Blue Bird embodies the ingenuity and resourcefulness of one man,” says Patricia Mooradian, president of the institution. “By taking one innovation, the Model T, and using it as the foundation for his school bus, Mr. Luce changed the paradigm of transportation for school-age children in terms of safety and reliability. Within eight years, all major school bus manufacturers were producing steel-body buses.”

Blue Bird No. 1 will go on display in Henry Ford Museum in May. For more information, visit

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.