An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

The Land Cruiser by the Anheuser-Busch Vehicle Department

Early in the 1900s, the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company began using self-propelled trucks that were outfitted with the Company’s own bodies built by an in-house Vehicle Department. By the 1920s this Department had learned a great deal constructing its own insulated and refrigerated truck and rail car units. Next the Brewer would turn to building promotional vehicles.

Some of the first skiff-like coachwork appears to have been introduced by Jean-Henri Labourdette as early as 1913. Conover T. Silver, a very successful car dealer in New York City had his own coach building shop and produced his first skiff-bodied torpedo touring car on an Overland chassis in the mid-teens. This led to Anheuser-Busch purchasing one and using it to promote the Brewer’s “Bevo” near Beer.

Budweiser Vehicle Dept Boat Car

Anheuser-Busch soon put a louvered front on the “Bevo” Boat in place of the grille and later in the mid-1920s, another machine was built on a new chassis. Starting in about 1929 the first modern “Land Cruiser” was built on a Pierce-Arrow chassis. The earliest versions are reported to have a conventional flat transom (one has survived) that was followed by a curved and raked model as seen here. As many as three or four in total were constructed by the mid-1930s.

“The Budweiser” was photographed by Leslie Jones on August 19, 1931, and the image is courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

12 responses to “The Land Cruiser by the Anheuser-Busch Vehicle Department

  1. Nice to have a canon on your bow for slow pokes who won’t get out of your way, and another on your stern for tailgaters!

  2. I can’t say it’s tastefully done, but Budweiser did restrain from painting their name in huge script down the sides of the skiff. As it is, it’s a real attention getter with subtle branding.

    Interesting find. Thanx!

  3. Inspired no doubt by the ex-Melbourne Brindle 1916 Crane-Simplex ‘Land Yacht’ now in the Jay Leno collection.

    Must say, the Labourdette bodied 1913 Peugeot Type 150 skiff at the Seal Cove Auto Museum is a tad more attractive.

  4. The current surviving late model Bevo Boat was on built on a 1931 Pierce Arrow chassis. Fred Webber swapped it over to a V-12 Cadillac chassis in the late 80’s or early 90’s. There were more than six built over the years. They were often sent to state fairs and regional German festivals to promote the product. The build quaility was very good, and the quaility of the castings and trim was top notch. Currently the car has been hidden away in a collection as far as I can determine, as no recent photos or display of the car has posted anywhere. Thanks for you great site, I enjoy every article. Ed Minnie

    • Many years ago, I saw one of these Boat Cars at Hershey. I can’t recall if it was in the car corral or in the swap spaces but it was not a show car. I think it was a Cadillac-based vehicle. I had read about these cars earlier so I knew this was a rare sighting. In fact, I wondered than, as now, if it was an original from the 1930’s or an excellent copy that somebody recreated. I took several pictures. If I can find them, I’ll post them.

  5. I once read that Adolfus Busch had a very large old car collection that his family sold off in the 1930’s… Sure would like to see pics of them.

  6. Labourdette built his skiff on a Panhard et Levassor chassis in 1912. It’s a glorious thing and to my eye far more attractive than some of the later efforts.

  7. If my city ever had a visit from a gasoline powered Bevo land yacht, I can find no record of it, but in a couple of photos I’ve scanned, sometime early in the Prohibition years, a horse & wagon advertizing Bevo was in several parades on Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve never been a fan of near-beer, but apparently Bevo near-beer was better than no beer at all. The crowd around the Bevo wagon appears to be happy, but I figure in their beer swilling hearts there was great sadness. In the 1990s I found an empty bottle of Bevo under the attic floor boards in a hundred year old house we were living in. I have to guess someone’s mother must have even objected to her men folks sipping on near-beer if the guy was hiding in the attic with his bottle of Bevo. Great picture!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *