1947 Ford Superior Bus In The Barn

1947 Ford School Bus

From J Weaver – Having seen a bus or two on B/Fs I thought I’d share this story with you guys. My friend just bought this bus today (8/1/15). It’s been stored in a barn on a farm in northeast Indiana. It’s a 1947 Ford with a Superior Bus body. It’s in surprisingly good condition with no rusted areas on any of the sheet metal. The story we’ve gotten was that a prior owner drove it into the barn in 1973. The radiator was drained and there she sat. Fast forward to 2010, the current owner bought the property at a land auction to get the farm ground surrounding the barn.

1952 Cadillac

Upon opening the barn he discovered this bus, and a 1952 Cadillac limousine both wearing 1973 Indiana plates, and a treasure trove of very unique items scattered around the whole barn. One item that seemed interesting to me was about 20 war surplus aircraft tires. They look like new and are made by Firestone and Goodyear. Some are still wrapped in a heavy brown craft paper while still others have had their covering fall away some time ago.

1947 Ford Superior Bus

The bus is fitted with a 239 Cu. In. flathead engine with a three speed transmission. The running gear is completely stock including brakes, transmission, and rear axle. After adding air to the tires it rolled freely from the barn and up onto the trailer. I hope its return to the road as a driving vehicle goes as smooth for us as pulling it from its 42 year sleep. Immediate plans are to examine the current equipment and try to get the old flat motor into running condition. Then we will address the tires and other necessary systems one by one. The goal to have it back on the road is October 1, 2015. That gives us two months.

The long term plans will be to make it into a swap meet hauler, keeping it looking as close to what you see here as possible.

We have no information on the lettering on the bus which reads “Memorial Park Cemetery”. If you’re from the DeKalb county area in Indiana or know anything of the Memorial Park Cemetery we would like to hear from you. Also, we’d be interested in knowing why a cemetery would need a bus.

Update on 8/3/15 – Since Saturday, we have learned that the Memorial Park Cemetery that owned our school bus is located in Skokie, Illinois. While looking through some papers found in a small compartment under the drivers seat we discovered documents from that cemetery along with some other paperwork. So far, we’ve found nothing that would explain what the bus was used for there but we’re planing to contact them to see if anyone knows anything about it. The bus was registered for the last time in Indiana in 1972 so we’re talking about going back more than 43 years. We just hope someone is still around that would have some information they could share.

I want to thank Joe for sharing this story with us and I wish them the best of luck with getting it back on the road by October! If anyone happens to know more about this bus or its history, please share in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. David Frank David Member

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this incredible story and all the great pictures. congratulations to your friend on his purchase and barn finds! I love your idea of using the bus for a swap meet hauler. Do you have plans yet for the limo? Good luck with the bus and all.

    Odd seating arrangement. You don’t suppose they took the mourners along with the flowers and the dearly departed to the cemetery do you?

    • JW454

      David,

      We didn’t purchase the limo but I believe it will be for sale in the near future.
      As to the bus seating, I think some of the seats were removed after it completed its tour of duty as the Cemetery bus. We still have no idea why a cemetery would need a bus.

  2. bob

    3 speed transmission in that bus ? really ?

    • JW454

      Bob,

      Going by the image of the shift pattern shown on the knob that is what we’re thinking. However, it may be a four speed or perhaps a three speed with a double low gear (granny gear). It’s too early to tell as yet. We’re still sorting things out.

  3. Fred

    Funeral homes routinely transport the family /relatives from funeral home to cemetery in a limo, maybe this one decided to try a bus. The engine looks rusty but the interior is a time capsule.

  4. Drew

    My first thought was it was used as a Flower car by a Funeral homeCemetary that couldn’t afford a custom built one and the 4 passenger seats were for funeral home personnel who arranged the flowers at grave site and then interred the bodies after the services. Just my guess…

  5. Ed P

    Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore,Md had a horse drawn street car that met the regular street car at the entrance. This is a very large cemetery that is difficult to walk so the street car was provided to the visitors. At the same time the transit company had a streetcar that was outfitted as a hearse for funerals. This was probably in use until cars became commonplace. I would imagine this Ford Bus was used in a similar fashion.

  6. Mark 'cuda man

    Would love to see some pictures of the Limo???????

  7. mg-kent

    Folks,
    Do not forget the year this vehicle was built.
    The U.S. had just gone through 3+ years of war, plus the Lend-Lease
    program where the U.S. supplied war materiel to our allies in Europe
    for a number of years before that.

    Is it possible that during the transition from a war economy to the
    demands of country needing products for peacetime, that this was
    all that was quickly available to meet the cemetery’s needs?

  8. JW454

    Mark,

    The pictures you see here are the only ones I took. I just grabbed a few to document what else was there. However, the car was in great shape. It had a grey interior that was in excellent condition. There were two jump seats in the rear that folded into the the back of the front seat. The dash looked brand new. only two areas I saw that needed attention was the headliner was loose in a couple of places, and the rear window was splintered. Overall, it was a very nice car that could be restored with very little time, money, effort in my opinion.

  9. Howard A Member

    I think this bus has camper conversion written all over it. Not much call for a school bus nowadays. The crawler tractor is cool. It looks like a late 40’s, early ’50’s IH TD-6.

  10. MikeW

    I second the camper conversion idea. I’ve seen old converted busses at the antique trailer conventions and they are cool. It seems motorhomes weren’t popular yet, so they were few and far between.

  11. David Frank David Member

    My wifes grandparents were from that area. Cemeteries often had buses like these because the cemeteries were located miles from town and a lot of people didn’t have cars. Cemeteries used their buses to take people out to visit the graves of their dearly departed on weekends and on special occasions. These graveyard shuttles would run several times a day between the center of town and the cemeteries.

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