Peoria Charter Coach Celebrates 75 Years

Its not very often, but when I come across an old bus, I immediately recall one of the greatest scenes from A League of Their Own. You remember the scene on the Rockford Peaches bus after Stillwell Angel  runs amok down the aisle and causes the bus driver to quit right then and there. Jimmy Dugan is passed out drunk, the ladies on the team are at their wits end, and this happens.

While running amok in my city the other day, I happened to spot a really nice old GMC motor coach from the 1940s parked outside of the local car museum. Its door was open, and the bus was painted as it may have looked back when it was new. Since I can't avoid anything old with wheels on it, I put my blinker on, quickly ate a Harvey bar and pulled off to take a peek.

This beauty is a 1947 GMC model PDA-3703 motor coach. It was recently restored by the folks at Peoria Charter and this year its been helping the transit company celebrate their 75th anniversary at parades, shows, and other functions.

The bus's powerplant appears to be a 4V-71 Detroit Diesel and a crashbox of some sort. Few sounds are more entertaining than one of these Screamin' Jimmies in my opinion.

Love the industrial teal / mint / green color they splashed on the interiors of these vintage buses.

Company History

Beginning as a transit company for Caterpillar workers during the WWII gas rations, Peoria Charter Coach ran from Lacon to Spring Bay and all points south to East Peoria's heavy equipment factories and assembly lines. Eventually larger, more luxurious buses and longer routes were added.

Walter, Roger and Stan Winkler stand next to the very first Peoria Charter Coach bus in 1941. The father and son trio quickly expanded their company to serve a growing community during the war years, and post-war boom.
Photo Credit: Peoria Charter Coach / Facebook
Today, the red and white buses are a common sight on most Midwestern interstates, and are known for hiring courteous and safe drivers who treat their customers very well. Heck, their president William Winkler even has his email address front and center on their website and asks "How was your trip?"

You email him directly. That's refreshingly rare these days.

Its also refreshing to have a local company that honors its history in the best way possible... with a classic GMC bus! Hats off to the Peoria Charter Coach company on 75 years in business, and for celebrating with a unique piece of rolling stock. I hope to see the old coach at many local events in the future.



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