Friday, September 26, 2008

Wavecrest 2008 had DeSoto woodies... and one was a sampan bus from Hilo Hawaii !

Hilo Sampan is staffed with six drivers and an operations manager, Donna Dupree. This week a 1950 DeSoto will join the 1949 Plymouth and the 1942 Chevrolet that are already on the road.
According to Dupree, sampans are created from existing vehicles. A reconstruction permit is required for each one, just as they are for modern cars refitted with non-factory parts.
"You take a torch and you cut it where the driver's seat is, then build on all the back part," Dupree said. "There is a lot of wood working, and it's part sheet metal, so it is quite a lengthy process to build one of these."
Dupree said it costs about $10,000 to turn an old-time auto into a sampan.
The first sampan was created in 1922 by a Mr. Kusumoto, a taxi driver who felt the fares were too expensive for residents.
New sampans imitate the first, and seat eight people in three benches along the perimeter of the interior, with the front seat bench for the driver and another passenger. Modernization includes automatic steering and power brakes.
During the 1930s and 1940s, there were more than 200 sampans in existence, serving as taxis for residents and visitors all over the Big Island. They were affectionately referred to as "banana boats." The average fare ran from a nickel to a dime.

1 comment:

  1. just gave you photo credit on my blog writing about the Sampan...