Blue Bird Micro Bird

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Blue Bird Micro Bird
Divine Peace Lutheran School bus.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Blue Bird Body Company (1975-1992)
Blue Bird Corporation (1992-2010)
Production 1975–2010 (Blue Bird Micro Bird)
2010-present (Micro Bird by Girardin)
Assembly see listing
Designer Blue Bird
Body and chassis
Class Type A
Body style School bus/MFSAB
Mini bus
Layout

Cutaway van

  • single rear wheel
  • dual rear wheel
Platform see listing
Related Blue Bird MB-II/MB-IV
Chronology
Successor Micro Bird by Girardin

The Blue Bird Micro Bird is an American school bus introduced in 1975 by the Blue Bird Corporation. It is a small Type A (cutaway van), with passenger capacity ranging from 10 to 30 passengers.[1] The Micro Bird was originally designed as a school bus, but it is also sold as a MFSAB (Multi-Function School Activity Buses). MFSABs are alternatives to 15-passenger vans that along with school systems that have come into use by child care centers and other organizations due to changing safety regulations.

Design History[edit]

The Micro Bird was introduced in 1975 as Blue Bird's response to the Wayne Busette, the first Type A school bus from a major manufacturer and the first small school bus to employ a dual rear wheel chassis. Blue Bird followed the Busette's design with the use of a dual rear-wheel chassis; initial production began with Chevrolet and GMC chassis. The Micro Bird differentiated itself from the Busette by the use of a full-size school bus door instead of the van door; not only did this give an advantage in terms of access, but Blue Bird added 2 windows between the entry door and the A-pillar of the van windshield to offer a better view of the loading zone. Although the van chassis restricted the Micro Bird's body width, the body was designed almost identically to the Blue Bird Conventional and the All American.

For many years, the overall design of the Micro Bird was left largely untouched, as it was offered on a single chassis. The primary markets for the Micro Bird were districts transporting small children or special needs students (the Micro Bird was popular with the "Handy Bus" option, with wheelchair lifts fitted). In the late 1980s, Blue Bird changed the design of the loading-zone window from 2 pieces of glass to a single large piece. However, the early 1990s saw the Micro Bird name being used on several different products.

1992–1999: Four Micro Birds (first generation)[edit]

Blue Bird MB-II by Girardin

Girardin Minibus is a Canadian-based manufacturer of Type A school buses that has produced buses since 1965. In 1991, Girardin introduced two new product lines, the MB-II and the MB-IV. The MB-IV was a dual rear wheel design similar to the Micro Bird while the MB-II was of a single rear wheel design. The MB-II differed from other single rear wheel designs of the time in that its body was a full cutaway bus body and not a conversion of a van to a bus. At the time, Girardin was little known outside of Canada; in 1992, Blue Bird and Girardin entered into an agreement to market the MB product line in the United States. The MB-II and MB-IV were badged as "Blue Bird MBII/IV by Girardin", allowing Girardin to gain market exposure while Blue Bird gained 2 fresh product lines to sell. Also, for the first time, Blue Bird Type A buses were available with a Ford E-Series chassis alongside the GM chassis.[clarification needed]

In the mid-1990s, Blue Bird offered what would be the largest Micro Bird. In 1995, a version of the Chevrolet P30 chassis (shared with the larger Type B Mini Bird) was used with Chevrolet Van bodywork. These buses are distinguished by larger wheels, an extended nose with a tilt-forward hood, and they were available in capacities up to 36. The P30-chassis Micro Bird lasted only until 1996, as General Motors replaced its full-size van line that year and the new versions did not have bodywork designed for the P30.

2000–2010: Changes, End of the Road (second generation)[edit]

Late 2000s Blue Bird Micro Bird on Chevrolet Express 3500 chassis.

After two decades of production nearly unchanged, the 2000s saw a number of changes to the Micro Bird body[clarification needed]. After the Girardin agreement ended, Blue Bird developed its own single rear wheel version of the Micro Bird[when?]. Other changes included a change of the curvature of the roof, allowing for more headroom at the corners; this was a feature adopted from the TC/1000, another bus designed towards special-needs students. A change necessitated by the roof redesign was the change in the front roof cap, changing it from the same design used by every Blue Bird since the mid-1960s to an oval design.

Blue Bird ended production of the Micro Bird at the end of the 2010 model year; after 35 years, the Micro Bird was the longest-produced Blue Bird after the Conventional/CV200 and the All American. Additionally, the Micro Bird was the last Blue Bird to be produced on a chassis from another manufacturer.

Micro Bird By Girardin: An All-new Micro Bird (third generation)[edit]

Micro Bird MB-II by Girardin
Micro Bird G5 by Girardin

In October 2009, Girardin entered into a joint venture with Blue Bird. The partnership, named Micro Bird, Inc., consolidated all Type A school bus production at the current Girardin facilities in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. As part of the agreement, all future Type A school buses were branded Blue Bird Micro Bird by Girardin while Blue Bird itself focused on its larger Type C and D buses.[2] Currently, there are two Micro Bird by Girardin models for sale. There is the dual rear wheel G5 (introduced in 2005) and the single rear wheel MB-II (introduced in 1991; identical to the 1990s Blue Bird MB-II). Both versions are available on Ford and General Motors chassis.

Chassis Manufacturers[edit]

Model Name Years Produced Fuel Notes
Ford E-Series Early 1980s-2010
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
GMC Savana 1975–1996
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
Chevrolet P30 1995–1996
  • Diesel
  • The Chevrolet P30 chassis (using G30 bodywork) was used as an option for some Micro Birds for 1995–1997.
  • 36 Passenger Capacity
Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana 1997–2003
  • Gasoline

Assembly[edit]

The Micro Bird was assembled at the following manufacturing facilities:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]