Paul’s find the other day of the “Advanced Design” Chevy Hippie Bus once again got me fired up to go see what vintage buses might be out there for sale. This malady of mine usually occurs once a year, and lasts about 24 hours, before reality returns and I realize that I live in Tokyo and the parking space at our home barely fits my Volvo C30. But one can always dream…and a little googling finds some real beauties out there. Which would be your pick?
How about an iconic Flxible Clipper – this one a 1952 Visicoach model. And it has celebrity heritage – it was one of Willie Nelson’s first tour buses. Just imagine how much Platinum Gold still permeates those interior walls. While this bus may be terrestrial-bound, inside those fumes could have you soaring higher than Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.
There is a large and active Flxible Owners Club that can help find parts so getting this one back on the road could be done, though would likely be a bit expensive. It has no engine, and it might be a little difficult finding a Buick 320 cubic inch straight eight like the one it left the factory with, but you could always go with a CAT or Cummins diesel – a popular modern upgrade.
You’ll have a unique piece of Americana – just ask Jay Leno… Price: $8K.
Americana? What spells Americana better than a GM Old Look bus – this one a 1950 Series 4512. There was no more ubiquitous motor vehicle on American city streets in the decade of the ‘50’s.
Sure, it’s a little rough on the outside, but in what has to be a minor miracle, it retains its factory passenger seating in what appears to be very good condition, and the original ads still remain above the windows.
Could you see yourself behind that big steering wheel? Just remember, it’s big because there’s no power steering. Price: $24K.
OK, those two may be a little too big or too far gone – how about a cute little 1950 Ford B-Series “Shorty” school bus.
It comes with new tires and while not original to the bus, a period-correct flathead V8 which is said to run well.
The seller may be a bit too optimistic here – asking $10K, when the typical price for one in this condition is more like $2K.
Maybe your plan is to modify your bus into a motor home – here’s one already done for you – a 1978 Blue Bird Wanderlodge 33-FC. Blue Bird made these Wanderlodge front-engined, forward control models from 1963 to 89 (the Wanderlodge name was used on a rear-engined model through 2009). No interior pics, but one can imagine the orange shag carpet, strobe lights, and Farrah poster.
This one has a later-model CAT 3208 turbo diesel. While looking clean and well-kept, at least on the outside, the ad states it is “non-operational” and would need to be towed away. Price: $15K.
So, in your “what if” world, which one would you pick?
When I was starting school, we got there in a bus that looked somewhat like the “featured” Chevrolet, tho longer, and pretty much brand new. Mr Post, our driver was a kindly, mature man, who had a busload of patience. I remember several times when the bus arrived and we weren’t ready for it. He would wait all long as possible then slowly pull away.
Of the buses here, I would lean toward the “shorty” Ford. Though whether to keep it looking as is, do a sort of Partridge Family look, or return it to showroom condition would be a tough decision to make.
No question, the 60-61 GMC with the V6. Second would be any of the other transit styles except the Bird. I wouldn’t touch that Wonderbodge with a stolen 10 foot pole. We had several of the school bus versions of that in our fleet and they were not a very good bus. Miserable to work on and unpleasant to drive with the motor making more heat and noise than power immediately adjacent to your crammed in right leg.
For nostalgia reasons, it would have to be the GM Old Look bus, as I used to drive them. And with the interior being intact, I could re-enact the experience of hauling passengers. The exterior is a bit rough from sitting outside, but doesn’t look to bad. Just needs a new paint job. Fire up that 6-71, drop the big lever into D, and floor the accelerator, which was the only way to get these to move, such as it was. And then the long wait until it CLUNKS into direct mechanical drive.
I would like to drive on old city bus one more time in my life.
+1 – Not good choice for interstate speeds, but the perfect trip for slow cruising blue highways – which is more my speed these days.
That Ford school bus would be pretty cool, but I like the look of the GMC in the opening picture. A big Buick 320 pushing a bus around would make that Flxible an interesting choice; it would certainly sound nice.
I loved sitting in the very last back seat of the long school buses. When they went over the bumps on a dirt or gravel road you could fly a good 12 inches into the air, or so it seemed. These were pre-seatbelt days of course.
Sign me up for the shorty Ford oh wait, my allotted parking space barely fits my Citroen and I get complaints if I have my trailer with me, I got alerted to a TK Bedford house truck kit last week legally done cut thru from the cab already done but the rear dismantled and stacked on the deck very tempting, but, same problem where do I park it, theres no more room at my mates place where I keep my Superminx estate either.
Flathead V8 4 speed crash box zero braking abilty yes Ive driven one luv it.
The old GMC school bus in the first photo could be repaint as the same colors as the one used in the Partridge Family. 😉
I like the GMC in the opening pic, a little Google-Fu brings up a less than stellar article written a few years ago with a dead link to an add. A little tuning/sprucing up and I’d have decent schoolie platform for local jaunts. Gas mileage aside, of course.
My summer time weekend occupation involves driving 1 of 2 1974 GMC C60 former school busses as a shuttle alongside a river. This bus looks like a Wayne body as opposed to the Wards I am familiar with. I am no engine spotter, but I believe I count 8 plug wires, so a 327 hopefully mated to a 3spd. with OD? Excellent short distance camper. Parts still available to the layman, and in my part of VA there are tons of great spots within a 2 hour drive. Sign me up!
The riding in the way back comment brought back many fond memories ~ rural new England was full of what we kids called “Roller Coaster Roads” and I too loved to sit in the furthest back row to get those flying jumps .
I’d love an Advanced Design shortie bus to use as a camper but really, I’d prolly never use it after the initial up fixing and test driving .
I have fond memories of riding in those blistering hot GM buses in the 1960’s .
Most of these junkers are wildly over priced and will prolly get scrapped some day .
The Flxible Clipper is probably the most gorgeous form of bus art I’ve encountered. They look like they’re moving and purposeful even when they’re standing still (unfortunately the only way I’ve ever seen one). A Buick 320 would be an awesome source of motivation to me; hopefully it has a 4 barrel carb… or wouldn’t a 1941 Compound Carburetion setup be cool?
The 60-61 GMC would be my next choice, except, keep that engine quiet! I like the sound of the later Chevy 60 degree V6, but the GMC isn’t so pleasant to listen to. Those seem to run forever, as long as you can afford to keep their thirst for fuel quenched.
Blue Bird Wanderlodge would be cool as well.
And here’s something weird… the only bus shown here that I’ve never seen in person, is the GM Old Look.
I love that Chevy bus in the top photo. Is it for sale? If so where?
Love to have one