<VV> More UltraVan history (corrected)

James Davis jld at wk.net
Sat Jul 24 11:37:44 EDT 2010

Well on further information, I will state I was wrong in several 
statements.  First, #559 appears to the made in Oakland (Alameda) and 
was the prototype for the 600 series.  Secondly, Ultra Inc. did only one 
Olds Toronado conversion to an UltraVan and that was #557 or TU100.  
Lastly, Dave Peterson was the advising engineer and owner of an UltraVan 
conversion facility in Sonoma, CA where Corvair and V-8 powered 
UltraVans were converted to rear engined Toronado power. 

 From Graham Dell  - "Adding to the body of information on this subject, 
I have a 3 page letter dated 11/20/70, signed by Dave Peterson, offering 
to do Toronado rear mounted conversions for Ultra Vans.  For safety 
considerations he insists on modifying the front cast wheel beam 
mounting, modifying the rear A-frame, mounting adequate rear tires for 
the weight increase, and adding power brakes.  He suggests the added 
engine weight is 500 lbs.  At the time, he had 7 conversions scheduled 
and was soliciting more".

 Norm Helmkay's records show at least 13 were converted at Sonoma.  
Lastly, I can find no record of any of the Travelons (not Travecos as I 
stated) by Prestolite were ever modified by Dave.  It seems the reason 
for the small seven coach production at Prestolite was the payment of 
royalties and not the quality of the construction of the coaches.

  Jim Davis

All coaches manufactured in Hutchinson (#215-#559)  plus the ones 
assembled in Hutchinson  (#212-#214) came with the cast aluminum made in 
Hutchinson plates.   Just where the plates were placed on the coach 
depends on the date of manufacture.  In 1969 Anna Tefft had plastic name 
plates made with the name Ultra Coach to replace the aluminum ones.  
This was because of the California hippy association with "van" name 
that the CA UVMCC crowd wanted no part of.   These were made available 
to the entire membership that wished to change their name plate.  When 
Dave moved the production back to Oakland in fall of 1970, he started 
production of the 600 series and three were ordered immediately.  One of 
the things Dave put back into production was the original UltraVan name 
plates with the Oakland location (identical to the ones on the first 
nine Oakland produced coaches) and 100 (or so) were cast.  Those 
nameplates have found there way onto coaches as the old ones were lost 
or destroyed in painting, wrecks or during modifications.  In the old 
newsletters, you will find that Dave did not approver of Ultra Inc. 
Toronado conversions, as the believed the weight bias was was to much 
for the tires of the time and the extensive modifications to the coaches 
structure had not been properly vetted by aircraft engineers.  The only 
coaches known to be modified in Oakland were the Travco's.

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