Curbside Outtake – 1967-76 Fiat 238 Scuola Bus – Certainly Beats Walking


I guess we all remember how we got to school. Personally, I walked most of the time. Other kids went on a school bus and in Italy the kids may well have gone on the scuolabus.

I recently saw this scuolabus on a trailer in my village, on my way to work. Never mind, we’re going to stop for this – a Fiat 238 minibus on a trailer with a Peugeot 407SW tow car, neither of which were regulars in the village.


The Fiat 238 was powered by an 1197cc, 44bhp petrol engine and built on the underpinnings of the Autobianchi Primula, which meant it has as transverse front engine and that the gearbox was on the end of the engine, not underneath as it was on BMC’s Mini and ADO16 for example. The engine was also shared with the Fiat 124 saloon. Overall length is about 15 feet and the payload was a ton. In context, this is the Italian equivalent to the VW Type 2, but without the compromises required from the rear engine. It does have a longer front overhang though. Visually, it looks like an oversize version of the Fiat 850 T van, which was rear engined.


Within Italy, this was the panel van of choice for many years, and although it was sold outside Italy, it is (and always was) a rare sight outside Italy, as the European market was more diverse in the 1960s and 1970s than it is now. The usual range of configurations, from van to camper to pick up to bus, was available.


As I took the shots from across the road, a lady came out from the house, clearly interested in what I was doing. Like many Curbivores, I’ve learnt that some people are more easy going than others about this sort of thing, outside the car show environment, and this lady was clearly in the easy going, almost the excited, group.


It seems that the van had just been trailered to the UK from Italy, through Germany, behind the Peugeot, and had arrived late the previous evening. The plan (her brother’s plan actually) was to convert it to a mobile coffee bar.

I didn’t have time to have a full chat about it, so I do not where in Italy it had been used, but I was told that it was a genuine, time served with distinction school bus, and should have had the “Scuolabus” sign on the roof. Sadly, this was taken during an overnight stop in Germany.

But a good start to the day. That’s what being a Curbivore can do to you.