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*Updated* Ford Tour Buses at The River Rouge -1946

*Update* We have not learned anything more about the buses, but thanks to reader Karl Hagen we have found the the pilot house of the Benson Ford is now a cottage on South Bass Island, Put-In-Bay, Ohio, North of Sandusky, Ohio, on Lake Erie. You can read the story of how the pilot house was saved and moved in 1986 when it was slated to be scraped in Cleveland, Ohio.

This press photo shows us tour buses filled with school children at Ford’s River Rouge plant. The photo is dated May 5, 1946, which leads us to wonder if these are pre or post-war buses? They appear to possibly have glass roof panels on the sides, no doubt so that visitors would be able to look upward and see some of the sights at what may have been one of the worlds most impressive manufacturing complex ever.

The Henry Ford  has full information on the facility, including covering its entire history from when Henry Ford first bought 2000 acres of land there in 1915.

We would be interested in finding out if any Ford or bus historians can tell us any more about these units and if they were custom made just for tours or if they were production models. We assume that the Benson Ford behind the buses was an iron ore hauling freighter. We have many more photos of The River Rouge that you can enjoy here. The Old Motor photo.


5 responses to “*Updated* Ford Tour Buses at The River Rouge -1946

  1. Ford made short transit buses in this general style starting in the late 30’s or early 40’s, this appears to be a modified version of one. The Ford transits were popular in WW2 as they were cheap to buy and operate, could be put in service on light-traffic routes that sprung up due to wartime rationing, and because there were limited supplies of everything, including buses. Ford made thousands of these, as buses go, it was a very high-production bus, but after WW2, a lot of them were pretty used up as they were used hard during WW2 and were medium-duty designs, not heavy-duty. Also, they have steel bodies so would develop rust if left unattended. Today, only a handful survive. They use a somewhat unusual drivetrain, with the engine sideways in the left rear corner, then a 90-degree set of bevel gears to the driveshaft going forward, with the differential offset to the right on the axle. This allows a longer wheelbase (and better ride) than if the engine was straight in, but unlike other buses with sideways engines, this can be done with almost all standard parts, whereas bigger buses have bigger engines, etc., and run out of room to use this layout.

    • My father bought two of these buses in the late 40s and brought them to Washington DC to run sightseeing About twenty minutes into the 1950 film ‘Born Yesterday ‘ you can see William Holiden and Jusy Holiday get off the bus and go into the Capital building- the guy driving the bus is my father – he told me they were originally used for tours at the Ford factory

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