After World War I, demand for motorcycles dropped because of lower automobile prices and safety issues with motorcycles, so Flxible turned its sights to commercial automobiles (ambulances and funeral cars) and the bus business. The first Flxible bus rolled off the line in 1924. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Flxible continued to build buses and other commercial vehicles, most often on a Buick chassis.
Flxible buses, which came in Clipper, VL-100, Hi Level, Flxliner, Starliner, City Bus, and Flxette models, have always ranked high on the list for people who want to turn a bus into a house on wheels. The durability and stylish design of Flxibles are their chief assets. The most desirable model is the Flxible Clipper, first introduced in the late 1930s, and then widely used by the Greyhound and Trailways bus companies in the 1940s and 1950s.
Among the luminaries who owned Flxible buses were Buck Owens, Flatt and Scruggs, and Little Richard. In the movie Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the first major character to make an entrance arrives in a Flxible Clipper. The Flxible Company may be no more (in 1996, it filed for bankruptcy and its assets were auctioned), but thanks to a dedicated cadre of Flxible owners it lives on.
This 1949 Flxible Clipper was originally owned by a man named Fritz, who bought it as a shell in 1950. He installed beautiful mahogany wood cabinets and accents and used long-lasting marine-grade metal for most of the hardware. The current owners replaced the original Buick Straight Eight engine with a 454 Chevy engine with an Allison automatic transmission. The Flxible is owned by Joe and Gail Pirri. It was photographed at Flywheelers Park in Avon Park, Florida.
Douglas Keister’s new book, Mobile Mansions, will be published by Gibbs Smith Publisher in March. Doug is also the author of Ready to Roll: A Celebration of the Classic American Travel Trailer and Silver Palaces: America’s Streamline Trailers. Personalized autographed copies are available from Doug. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.