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A Brief History of Gillig Brothers


1910 Gillig Bros. Built Bus

Jacob Gillig, a carriage builder and upholsterer, came to California from New York State to do rebuilding and repairing of the fancy carriages and buggies owned by pioneer San Franciscans such as Mark Hopkins and James Flood.

Jacob Gillig opened his own carriage and wagon shop in San Francisco.

The San Francisco earthquake and fire burned down the original shop. Leo Gillig opened a new shop on Larkin Street, San Francisco, under the name of "Leo Gillig Automobile Works."

Automobiles were now coming into use and the business changed to the custom building of automobile bodies, hearses, trucks and early model buses.

1914 Chester H. Gillig joined Leo Gillig as a partner to found Gillig Bros. They built a new three story plant at Post and Franklin Streets, San Francisco, and greatly expanded their automobile business.

1920 The "California Top" was invented and patented by Chester Gillig. This consisted of a solid top and special sliding windows installed on the open touring cars of that day. Hundreds were built and sold through the United States during the next six years.

1927 A custom "Boat Division" was added. Many racing boats and pleasure craft, both inboard and outboard, were built and sold throughout California. Stanley J. Marx joined the firm in this year.

1928-1930 The business expanded into the building of commercial truck bodies of all kinds.

1932 Gillig Bros. built their first school bus.

1933-1937 The business had changed almost entirely to the building of school bus bodies. The first transit type buses were built in the year 1937.

1938 The business had outgrown its three story plant and moved to larger quarters in Hayward. Gillig Bros. bought out Patchett and Carstensen of Newman, California in this year.

1940 The first underfloor engine Hall-Scott Transit buses were built. The chassis were built by Fabco and the bodies by Gillig.

1941-1945 Gillig Bros. was engaged entirely in war production work, building thousands of Army truck bodies and bus bodies for all of the Armed Services. These were used throughout the world.

1945 The first rear engine coaches were built, Model 450-'45 Several hundred were built between 1945 and 1950.

1950 The first Model 504 Hall-Scott coaches were built. Production at this time was about 75 coaches and 100 conventional bodies per year.

1953 Leo Gillig passed away and Chester Gillig retired from business. A Corporation was formed and the business continued under the management of Stanley J. Marx.

1958 The first diesel powered coaches were built, using Cummins engines.

1959 The Model C180 rear engine diesel, was introduced and became a leader in diesel powered school buses in California.

1965 Gillig Bros. produced about 175 coaches per year, 90% diesel powered, and 50 conventional bodies. Eastern-made bodies account for about 100 units per year. 150 men are employed in production.

1966-1970 Trends to larger transit buses with diesel power and larger capacities develop rapidly. Unification of large numbers of smaller school districts into larger units accounts for increased size requirements in buses.

1968 Gillig Bros. completed the largest and most modern bus manufacturing facility on the West Coast.

1970 Gillig Bros. pioneered use of Caterpillar 1160 V-8 diesel engines in school coaches in conjunction with Caterpillar and Ford Motor Company. Since 1970, the CAT engine has become the most popular engine offered in Gillig Transit Coaches.

1973 Stanley J. Marx retired, having completed over 41 years of service to the company, beginning as salesman and ending as President.

Gillig Bros. purchased by The Herrick Corporation, a large structural steel fabrication and erection company, also located in Hayward, California.

1974 Last transit powered by a gasoline burning engine built by Gillig Bros. Transit coach production in capacities ranging from 73-97 passengers account for approximately 90% of all units sold. Custom built conventional bodies now account for approximately 10% of total production. Plant capacity now at one complete coach per day.

1975 Gillig Bros. adds the Cummins VTF-555 diesel to its model line, broadening the horsepower range available in rear engine coaches.

Chester H. Gillig, Vice President, Parts, retired leaving his son Jim as the sole Gillig working in the Corporation.