The Glam Tram, Jeff Daly’s open-air party shuttle that has whisked passengers around downtown Astoria since 2014, is no more.
Unable to find affordable insurance, Daly has retired the vehicle to storage. It will either be sold or sent to the scrap heap.
The bus was built in the 1960s to take people around the Los Angeles Zoo. An Oregon Coast real estate company acquired the tram in the 1970s to shuttle prospective buyers. According to Daly, the tram broke down within a few years and languished.
Daly learned of the vehicle several years ago when it was rusting in a junkyard in Jeffers Garden. The bus was about to be scrapped before he acquired it and started fixing it up with the help of mechanic Jason Banghart in Hammond.
The tram is part of Daly’s collection of vintage vehicles, including a 1928 Model A rat rod, a 1969 woodie station wagon and a 1948 Chrysler clown car. Last summer, he debuted the Joy Train, a restored American Legion Forty & Eight train built on a motor-home chassis.
Getting the Glam Tram back on the road also involved several trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the vehicle registered, eventually, as a 2014 assembled bus.
The tram has built a following over the past several years, taking passengers downtown with its glowing lights, blaring sound system and propane fireplace. It has ended up on television news and was used in a music video by Blind Pilot.
Daly estimates he’s shuttled hundreds of people in the tram between their hotels and Fort George Brewery’s Festival of the Dark Arts each February, helping to free up parking and potentially keeping impaired drivers off the road.
Daly had insurance on the Glam Tram through Berkshire Hathaway. After his friend Robert “Jake” Jacob died last year, he received a call from an insurance agent, who informed him the vehicle had been running without insurance for the past two months.
Daly reached out to numerous brokers around the country, but he said he couldn’t find any takers aside from one offer to insure the Glam Tram and the Joy Train for around $10,000 a year, far above the $1,850 he had been paying.
“There are all these new requirements,” Daly said of getting the tram registered with the DMV. “I am now on a do-not-insure list. By making it legal, I’ve put myself in a corner.”
Daly has received multiple calls from people wanting to charter the Glam Tram for private events. But the vehicle has to stay in storage until it is sold or scrapped. Because of the steep price of insurance, he has also stopped shuttling people around in the Joy Train.
“The chartering, the fun stuff, that’s all gone,” he said. “People are mortified by it.”
He has reached out to the city about employing the tram to take people along the Astoria Riverwalk while the Astoria Riverfront Trolley is out of service during waterfront bridge repairs, but he said he doubts the city will bite.
Daly still plans to use the Joy Train in a partnership with 1859 magazine to deliver copies of the statewide lifestyle publication to far-flung areas of Oregon.
• Watch a Glam Tram video: https://www.facebook.com/glamtram/videos/290069561855069/