Blue Bird Corporation is not affiliated with another company with a similar name, Blue Bird Group, a taxi operator in Indonesia.
Engineers from Blue Bird Body Co., Chevrolet, International Harvester, Dodge, and Ford Motor Company, as well as paint experts from DuPont and Pittsburgh Paint showed up. Together with the transportation administrators, they met for 7 days and agreed on 44 standards, including the color and some mechanical specifications such as body length, ceiling height, and aisle width.
It became known officially as "National School Bus Chrome". The color was selected because black lettering on that hue was easiest to see in the semi-darkness of early morning and late afternoon. The distinctive color later became officially known as "National Glossy School Bus Yellow".
Cyr's conference, funded by a $5,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, was also a landmark event inasmuch as it included transportation officials from each of the then 48 states, as well as specialists from school bus manufacturing and paint companies. The conference approach to school bus safety, as well as the yellow color, has endured into the 21st century.
With its early adoption of steel body construction, Blue Bird had been a leading name in church bus and school bus safety efforts. The company became a major school bus body builder in the post-World War II period.
In 1948, Blue Bird founder Albert Luce Sr. saw a design for a flat front bus at an auto show in Paris, France. Two years later, in 1950, Blue Bird Body Company developed a transit style design which evolved into the Blue Bird All-American, generally considered one of the first successful transit designs to gain widespread use for school buses throughout in the US. Wayne Corporation, Crown Coach Corporation, Gillig Corporation, and others had experimented and developed some early transit-style school buses.
However, the "conventional" design, with a truck type hood and front-end (known as type C on modern school buses) was to continue to dominate US school bus manufacturing through the end of the 20th century.
Blue Bird became an international manufacturer of school buses with the opening of Blue Bird Canada in Brantford, Ontario in 1958. In the 1960s, Blue Bird Body Company also started making luxury motor coaches based on the All-American. Its first Wanderlodge was built in 1963. Blue Bird entered the commercial public transit bus market in the 1970s.
Parts and Service were also located in Fort Valley, as was Wanderlodge Wayside Park, a tree-shaded motor home park for visiting Wanderlodges adjacent to the Wanderlodge plant.
In 1980, Blue Bird was one of the big six school bus body companies in the United States, competing with Carpenter Body Company, Superior Coach Company, Thomas Built Buses, Inc., Ward Body Company, and Wayne Corporation. During the next 20 years, that number would be reduced to three.
Blue Bird would open a new plant, Blue Bird North Georgia in LaFayette, Georgia during the 1980s as well as close the Ecuador plant.
The Q-Bus commercial bus for transit and charter applications was introduced in 1992. Sagging demand, financial difficulties and changing world markets in the 1990s and early 2000s lead to Blue Bird closing two plants and opening another. Blue Bird East was shut down in 1992; Blue Bird de Mexico in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, was opened in 1995.
At the end of 1997, Blue Bird operated the following facilities:
Blue Bird was owned by the British Henlys Group PLC with a substantial financial stake held by Volvo Group from 1999 to 2004. Henlys had financial difficulties during this time, including some not related to its investment in Blue Bird.
Blue Bird de Mexico in Monterrey, Mexico was closed in 2001. Blue Bird Midwest was closed in 2002.
According to news release from the company in the fall of 2004, Blue Bird became the "sole operating subsidiary" of a newly created holding company, Peach County Holdings Inc. As part of the deal, a banking syndicate made up of Henlys creditors owned 42.5 percent of the Peach stock, according to Blue Bird. The Volvo Group (the world's largest bus manufacturer) owned another 42.5 percent, with the balance owned by Henlys' "pension scheme" and Blue Bird's management. However, after a bankruptcy filing, Blue Bird was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, resulting, in connection with the acquisition by Cerberus of North American Bus Industries and Optima Bus Corporation, in Cerberus having a complete line of school and transit buses.
Through 2007, Blue Bird executed a series of plant closing and product line divestitures intended to re-focus the company on the school bus market in an effort to improve profitability and market position. The commercial bus product lines were spun off to parent corporation subsidiary North American Bus Industries, Inc. for assembly at NABI's Anniston, Alabama facilities. Blue Bird’s original and last remaining international plant, Blue Bird Canada, was closed August 10, 2007. Later in 2007, the Wanderlodge line was sold to Complete Coach Works, ending Blue Bird's 44 year participation in the recreational vehicle market .
Blue Bird No. 1, the first steel-body Blue Bird school bus, was donated to The Henry Ford in 2008.
In addition to school, activity, and transit applications, Blue Bird busses have been specially modified for unique applications such as bloodmobiles, mobile libraries, and public safety command centers.
US Patent Issued to Corporation Micro Bird on Nov. 16 for "Structural Units Adaptable to Preexisting Chassis and Vehicle Assembled Therefrom" (Canadian Inventors)
Nov 17, 2010; ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 18 -- United States Patent no. 7,832,792, issued on Nov. 16, was assigned to Corporation Micro Bird Inc....