Coolest bus ever made? Hammer approaches for a 1930s classic
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There's a certain irony in me writing this. Like many of you — the fellow petrolheads I'm wildly assuming you are — my teenage years were spent waiting and waiting for the day that I would finally be able to forget catching the bus to and from things.
Trains ... trains are alright. Buses? They're the devil.
Yet, this afternoon while exploring the world wide web, my eyes lit up and my frown turned upside down. Isn't this happy thing the best bus you've ever laid your peepers on?
It's a 14-seater 1937 White 706 (painted yellow, just to add to the already confusing name), produced by coachbuilder Bender. A mere 98 of these big beautiful beasts were made between 1936 and 1938, though most of them aren't quite like this one.
This bus was used for around 30 years years by the famed Yellowstone Park for various applications, including as a tour bus. This latter detail is illustrated by the removable canvas roof. It was in service at Yellowstone until the mid-'60s when it was retired.
After being out of the limelight for several decades, the White was restored from the ground up back to tip-top condition. In some areas the restoration is period correct, but the owner elected to modernise it in other areas.
“The bus offered here has been subtly modified for more user-friendly, reliable road use, including the installation of a 300-cubic inch Ford inline six-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, as well as power steering, a 1995 Ford F450 master cylinder with power brake booster, 12-volt electrical system, an electric fuel pump, and Autometer instruments,” say RM Sotheby's.
“It can easily be driven on modern streets and highways, making it the ideal vehicle for transporting friends and families on special occasions. Even the largest party can go out on the town in this open-air mammoth!”
The bus is going under the hammer at next month's Hershey, Pennsylvania auction, and perhaps that last remark from RM Sotheby's is a clue as to how little they're expecting the bus to sell for. The relic will go under the hammer with no reserve, and is expected to fetch just US$30,000–$40,000 (NZ$40,000–$54,000).
Judging by the relatively humble price, big old buses don't quite have the excitable market that second-hand Porsche 911s and Aussie muscle cars have. But, with the clear amount of work it's taken to restore it, one hopes that the bus goes for top dollar.