a NAVISTAR COMPANY
Ward Body Works (1933-1979)
D. H. “Dave” Ward founded Ward in Conway, Arkansas in 1933 when he “lowered the roof of a wooden bus for Mr. Carl Brady of the Southside Schools”. Southside Schools were located about 15 miles north of Conway.
In the 1930s, Ward Body Works produced its first all-metal body bus. In the 1960s, Ward School Bus Manufacturing, Inc. was responsible for many notable innovations including use of computers in manufacturing (using IBM 360s), safety advances, and manufacturing process improvements. In the 1970s, Ward opened an assembly facility in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, but this plant was closed in 1975. In 1976, Ward built a prototype Type D transit school and commercial bus on an International Harvester chassis with front-wheel drive and tandem rear tag axles. It did not enter production.
American Transportation Corporation(AmTran) (1980-2002)
In 1979, Ward Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was instrumental in forming a business group that purchased the assets of Ward Industries. In 1980, the American Transportation Corporation (AmTran) was formed. In 1981, American Transportation Corporation began doing business as AmTran Corporation. Due to market recognition, the Ward name was still reserved for school buses while the AmTran name began to appear on non-school vehicles.
In 1983, a controlling interest of AmTran was purchased by Harmon Brothers, a Midwest school bus contractor and bus distributor; the company owned one the largest fleets of Ward/AmTran buses in the country. In 1991, one-third of AmTran was purchased by Navistar International, with the option to purchase the rest of the company in 1995, which was done. By the end of 1992, the Ward name had disappeared from the school bus product line, replaced by AmTran product lines.
In 1999, AmTran announced plans to build a new facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma that would employ 1200 people. The conventional buses would be built at the new facility, but the Conway, Arkansas facility would continue to produce the rear engine and front engine models.
Limited Chassis Availability
With AmTran a part of Navistar, the International-chassis buses were marketed more aggressively than their other products. In 1992, General Motors dropped its B-series chassis (as part of a deal with Blue Bird); although the Ford B700 was an option, it was phased out after 1998. As Freightliner was the parent company of competitor Thomas Built Buses, the Freightliner FS65 was never offered with an AmTran body.
IC Corporation/IC Bus (2002-present)
In 2000, AmTran introduced the IC conventional school bus. With IC standing for Integrated Coach (also “chassis”) school bus, the entire bus was now assembled under a single corporate entity. The first models were badged “AmTran”, although within a short time, the buses were badged “International” with AmTran being renamed “International Truck and Bus” late in the 2000-2001 model years. For 2002, the company’s name changed yet again to IC Corporation and the new conventional bus was re-introduced as the IC CE, giving it a common nomenclature with the FE/RE Type D buses.
In 2005, the CE-Series was given a new body and chassis as the long-running
1989-04 International 3800 Carpenter Classic
International 3800 (the last version of the International S-Series) was replaced by the
2005-present International 3300 HCS bus49
International 3300. The new chassis gave the CE an all-new windshield and dashboard. In 2006, IC introduced its first smaller bus since the 1980s, the BE-Series. Based heavily upon the CE, the BE was aimed towards operators who transported young children and special-needs students as an alternative to buses based on cutaway vans.
End of Conway Bus Production
On January 11, 2008, IC Corporation announced a layoff of about 300 employees at the Conway, Arkansas Bus Plant. This was just under the maximum number of employees that could be laid off in Conway without the company violating the WARN Act, which requires employers to give 60 days notice of a mass layoff or plant closing. In addition to the layoffs, the company also announced a 50 percent reduction in bus production at the Conway plant. IC Corp. officials cited a lack of new orders as the reason for the layoffs. However,the company had recently announced increased production at the plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This stoked fears in Conway that the company was planning to shut down the plant in the near future and move all production to the newer, and non-union, Tulsa plant.
In April 2009, IC Corporation changed its name again, this time to IC Bus.
On November 5, 2009, IC Bus announced that its Conway plant would no longer assemble buses after January 18, 2010, projecting elimination of 477 jobs. The Conway facilities will serve as fabrication shops and will manufacture parts, but will no longer produce complete buses. The company cited low demand by school districts and contractors during the recessionary economic climate in the United States.”We have to consolidate our bus-assembly operations into one facility,” Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley said. “Unfortunately for Conway, Tulsa is a much newer facility.”
The IC FE-Series product literature was removed from the IC Bus website in early April 2010, as IC dealers started to announce its discontinuation. Roots of this bus can be traced back to 1990, when the Ward Senator was released. In late 1992, it was re-released as the AmTran Genesis. As of January 2011, IC only produces rear-engine transit-style buses (the RE-Series school bus and its commercial-use derivative).
In late October 2010, the company introduced the AE-Series, its first Type A school bus since the discontinuation of the AmTran Vanguard after 1996. The AE utilizes a cutaway cab version of the International TerraStar chassis; the AE also features the same interior width and height as the BE and CE-Series.
To re-emphasize the ties to its parent company, IC Bus modified its branding for the 2013 model year. On the rear bumper, the IC shield logo was replaced with a Navistar script, which now forms the lower line of the IC Bus “wing” logo.
On June 5, 2012, the Tulsa, Oklahoma IC Bus assembly plant produced its 100,000th vehicle. The Tulsa Bus Plant employs more than 1,200 dedicated workers who manufacture, on average, 50 to 75 buses a day. This number has grown significantly from 400 employees when the plant first opened in 2001. “This plant demonstrates our commitment to the school bus industry by building quality, state-of-the-art product,” said John McKinney, president of Navistar Global Bus and IC Bus. “Because of the hard work and dedication of our Tulsa employees, IC Bus is far and away the industry leader not only in pure sales volume, but more importantly in product quality.” The 100,000th bus marks more than just a milestone, but a testament to IC Bus’ commitment to the community. The Tulsa bus plant contributes to the current growth trend of manufacturing in the U.S., which is illustrated by the more than 1,200 local skilled and office workers there.
Cummins powertrain addition
On September 3, 2013, Navistar announced in a press release that as part of an expansion of its product lineup, the Cummins ISB 6.7 would be added as an option to the CE-Series school buses starting with 2015 model-year vehicles; initial production is slated for January 2014. Alongside the current Navistar engines offering EGR emissions systems, the Cummins ISB is the first medium-duty Navistar vehicle (alongside the corresponding International DuraStar) to offer a SCR emissions system for the diesel exhaust.
Enough text now.
We start the pictures:
1924 Model S for today’s Throw-Back Thursday! It featured a 4-cylinder, block cast engine and sliding gear
1941 International Harvester K-5 Wayne
1974 A Ward IH (left) and a Wayne Ford (right).
1992-98 International Blue Bird TC 2000 Rear Engine
2002 International 3000RE-Tang Zhong Bus
2006 International DuraStar Krystal Koach KK 38