Hot Rod Bus
October 20, 2008 5:52 PM
It takes a lot of horsepower to pull a racecar up a hill, and if you're a trophy-winning racer like Big Dog Garage general manger Bernard Juchli, then you want to travel in style, which is why you need a bus... a 1961 Flxible Starliner to be exact.
The Flxible Company had a long and varied life that lasted from 1913 to 1996. Over the decades, they manufactured motorcycle sidecars, ambulances, funeral cars, city busses, and large intercity coaches like the Starliner that eventually found its way into Bernard's possession.
In 1913, Hugo H. Young and Carl F. Dudte dropped the "e" from the word "flexible" so they could trademark the name of their unique motorcycle sidecar mounting. As the automotive industry blossomed, so did Flxible by branching out into the manufacturing of busses and other large vehicles.
When they bought the bus-manufacturing business owned by the Fagoel Coach Company in 1954, they started selling busses to major cities and continued to do so until their doors closed in 1996.
When Bernard found his Flxible in Tucson, AZ, it was badly rusted and in a state of deep disrepair. His first instinct was not to purchase it, but when his wife Rosalie located all the parts needed to repair it in Nashville, he decided to go ahead and purchase the bus for use as a mobile home and as a way to transport his racecar to the track on weekends.
With $3,500 plunked down for the bus – that's about 19 cents a pound – Bernard and his wife drove it back to California where work began. All the mechanics were fixed, the entire exterior, save for the roof, re-skinned, and a new super-charged turbo diesel engine ordered from the Detroit Diesel Corporation.
When installed, the 552 cubic inch engine will generate 400+ horsepower, which is plenty of oomph to haul a racecar up a hill at speeds that a racecar driver like Bernard is accustomed to.