Big Blue Bird Bus: 1978 Blue Bird Wanderlodge 33-FC

052416 Barn Finds - 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge - 1

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Do you have the wanderlust as much as I do? This one could help. This is a 1978 Blue Bird Wanderlodge 33-FC and it’s located in Santee, California. It’s listed on eBay for $18,000 or make an offer. They mention a Buy It Now price of $15,500. These FCs typically sell for up to around $45,000 or so, and that gives a bit of room to put some money into this unit, which apparently it needs as it’s listed as “not operational”. These FC units came in 31′, 33′, and 35′ lengths.

052416 Barn Finds - 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge - 2

This is a 33-foot, forward-control bus; hence the “33-FC” in the title. Forward control meant that these buses had the engine in the front, which seems unusual to those of us who are used to seeing buses with rear engines. The FC Blue Bird Wanderlodge buses were made from 1963 through 1989. After 1976 the 300 hp 3208 Cat diesel because the engine of choice, replacing gas engines. In 1982 turbochargers were added and in 1987 intercoolers were added. The seller has this one listed as a “Turbo Cat”, so it must have been upgraded at some point since the turbo wasn’t available on these in 1978. There aren’t nearly enough photos of this great-looking “motorhome” (what I grew up calling these).

052416 Barn Finds - 1978 Bluebird Wanderlodge - 4

There are only two discernable (at least to me) interior photos, which seems odd to me. But, here’s what you’ll be staring at, or hopefully just glancing down at every once in a while as you power across the countryside. There are photos showing other 1978 FC Wanderlodges on the internet (big shocker), but it would have been nice to have the seller provide more images of this one. Speaking of this one, the seller mentions that this “is a salvage vehicle and is being sold for parts only. It is not operational or street legal. Therefore, upon purchase, it will need to be either towed or put on a trailer.” And, goes on to say that this unit “has been parked for the last year. Batteries were removed and used elsewhere.”, but that it was last driven “200 miles and parked. Ran fine.” I have no clue what the problem is with the drivetrain, but you might want to have some training or a semi-large wallet to get this one sorted out. But, for around $15,000 I’m guessing that it would be a good gamble for someone with diesel experience. Is this Blue Bird worth a gamble or would you rather have a perfectly-operating one for a much higher price?

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Comments

  1. jim s

    seller has some other interesting vehicles and listing on ebay. seller needs to work harder to sell this, text and photos. also need to know if seller has paperwork on the upgrades. would need to have someone do a PI who knows these and can give an idea of cost to get it back to being roadworthy. great find.

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    • Cassidy

      What makes this a “great find” with so much missing?

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  2. Van

    Knock knock
    Who’s there
    Title
    No title hear?

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    • Julles

      Think I saw this on Copart a couple of weeks ago. It would also explain the salvage title.

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  3. mikeG

    Oh for the days of 50 cent gas…….

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  4. Madbrit

    FC means forward control which means the driver sits over or in front of the front axle.
    These motorhome conversions are also very noisy with that diesel up front with you. Much nicer to have the diesel pusher design with the motor out back.

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    • Piloto Jim

      Pushers are more quiet but the Bluebird FC isn’t that bad. I owned the 35′ built for Lowell Thomas and drove it for about seven years. There’s one major flaw with ’80 and prior, possibly later, there is no Jake Brake and the brakes are not adequate for emergency stops. As mentioned in the ad, the turbo came later and that would help considerably on grades since the 3208 Cat is not enough in the mountains, especially when full of fuel and water. The Prevost 8V92 was a hot rod compared to the vintage Bluebirds…but the Blue birds are nearly bullet proof.

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  5. Mike D

    I tried to go into ” ask seller a question” to no avail, what is ” wrong” with it that there is a salvage title ? Stolen, and Ins co. found it? looks to be in good order

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  6. Fred

    I rode many a mile in the diesel pusher version of this as a kid in middle school and was amazed at how smoothly it rode compared to the other buses, which were GMC front engine vehicles. Never knew they made an “up front” version with an identical looking body.

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  7. ben

    sounds like a storage lean or in scam there are a lot of them just fixed a 1983 elcamino only 34k needed a pass door in totaled it salvage title I picked up a door and hung it painted it and had to sell it for parts but there are ways to get around it to bad it didn’t get a rebuilt title instead of salvage a little fishy if u ask me

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  8. Charles

    I could stay in some nice hotels for $15K K or $18K!

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    • Ed P

      Yes you can stay in a hotel for that much. A motorhome is for a lifestyle, it is not a necessity of life.

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  9. Ed P

    “Older tires” tells me this rig needs new tires due to tire age. Wanderloge’s were expensive for a motorhome and very well built. I cannot help but wonder what the problems are for this one.

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  10. Chebby

    These things are so ugly and cheesy-looking—thinly disguised school buses—but they are apparently really well-made and go the distance.

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  11. grant

    There’s a running, driving, operational ’86 on vintagebirds.com for 25k, with a title. Not sure why anyone would say these go for 45k+, ’88-89’s are going for about 50 k, in operational condition. Personally, I don’t understand why anyone would want a musty, stinky 40 year old motor home at all, but for 15k this had better be very very close to working condition.

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  12. Mark S

    Tires alone are going to cost at least 2 to 3k and if the engine needs to be pulled out its going to be at least another 15k. I’ve worked on buses like this and taking an engine out is not a fun time, the whole front of th bus has to come off and then the engine will come out. On the school bus version at least you could stand in the door way while working on the engine this would be much more difficult. This is a nice unit though, and yes these were tough ass nails and would go the distance.

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    • Ed P

      Mark, these units had an all steel body when others were of wood construction.

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      • Mark S

        Yes your right these were all steel they were a school bus body. and as far as I’m concerned Blue Bird school bus bodies were the best in the industry. This unit is worth saving as you will not get a motor home that will hold together like this one.

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  13. John Alley Member

    I am on my third Wanderlodge now. They are built to last. The FC’s are very well insulated and not noisy because of the front engine. They are tanks! This price is high for parts if no title is available however.

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  14. Dave Wright

    Wander lodge builds a great product. I am not a fan of the Cat 3208. They were a weak engine on all counts. Cat quit supporting then decades ago, however Wanderlodge built the PT series that had rear Detroit Diesel 92 diesels. That is a real machine. 450 hp in some cases in a 35 foot coach, that is a hot rod.

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  15. Otto Nobedder

    @Ben-you are probably correct about the storage Lien. Looks like its in an RV Park, so maybe the Previous Owner passed away or left it in storage?? It’s sometimes cheaper to ‘Junk out’ a vehicle with registration penalties in CA(the DMV never forgets), hence the Salvage Title. No big deal to re-register it-CHP VIN verification and Brake & Light inspection is all thats needed, and RV registration is relatively cheap. Interestingly, it has Historic Vehicle License plates? From the DMV website:

    Historical Vehicle Plates

    Issued to motor vehicles or trailers manufactured after 1922 which are at least 25 years old and of historic interest.

    Vehicles assigned Historical Vehicle are limited to operation or movement over the highway primarily for the purpose of historical exhibition or other similar, noncommercial purposes, such as parades or historic vehicle club activities.

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