Flagship Trailways’ Vintage Buses on the Silver Screen

With the prolific growth of independent film companies and a wave of nostalgia in movie scripts, Flagship Trailway’s vintage buses are busier than ever. “This year has just been on fire,” said Tom McCaughey, owner of Flagship based in Cranston, RI, who finished up a March shoot in Deerfield, Massachusetts, with his 40-foot, 92-inches wide 1958 GM for “The Holdovers.

A comedy-drama that takes place over the Christmas holidays in 1970, the movie stars Paul Giamatti as a disliked professor at a prep school, who along with the school’s head cook and a 15-year-old trouble-making student are the only “holdovers” left at the school. The movie’s release date is still to be announced.  

McCaughey’s 1975 Silver Eagle 05 was also in upstate New York this year on the set of “Three Women,” a Showtime hourlong series based on the No. 1 Nonfiction Bestseller by Lisa Taddeo, who has adapted her book that covers the emotional lives of three women from different backgrounds and stars Shailene Woodley.

McCaughey was also behind the wheel of his Silver Eagle in episodes of “Castle Rock,” a former Hulu® show inspired by stories created by Stephen King.

Flagship also owns a 1953 GM TDH 5106 and a 1964 GM Fishbowl.

Other shows featuring Flagship buses include Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” starring Steve Martin, three episodes of “Julia,” a documentary about chef Julia Child; and “Black Mass,” a Johnny Depp film based on the life of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger.

McCaughey bought Flagship, founded in 1981, from its previous owner in 2001, after selling a waste management fleet business he founded.  He got into collecting vintage buses by chance, learning of an Eagle bus for sale in Denver, and then heard from a business acquaintance in Connecticut of seven vintage buses in good condition for sale.

“I bought three of the buses and he closed on the other four,” said McCaughey, who said getting into the film business was just as fortuitus. “It’s a small industry, and as they say: Once you know a guy, it just grows from there.”

McCaughey advises operators interested in featuring equipment in films to check if their state has an official Film Office with a film production resources department. He noted his close proximity to Massachusetts and added that the state’s highly competitive package of tax breaks is the reason it’s a popular place for filmmakers today.

Even with all those high-profile sets and film credits, McCaughey’s showstopper moment is one closest to home. “Last year, I started going to car show cruise nights. I pull up in my 1958 GMC 5106 and it brought the house down,” he laughs. “The one thing about the film business is that it pays for the upkeep of the vintage buses, and I have a lot of fun doing it.”

A Trailways member since 2005, Flagship operates a modern, versatile fleet of 18 coaches and specializes in short or a long-distance charter trips, meetings and conventions, school trips and weddings.


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