1948 Dodge Power Wagon School Bus?!

I’m guessing way back in ’48 the schoolyard bully thought twice before making fun of kids who rode this short bus to school.  Reported by its seller to be only 1 of 17 known to exist, this Dodge Power Wagon school bus is listed here on eBay with a BIN of $7,750.  Located in Everett, Washington I’ve also tracked down a Craigslist ad here for the bus that includes a few more interesting photos of the rig before it was yanked from its wooded 10-year resting place.  Special thanks to Ikey H. and Peter R. for providing Barn Finds with this great tip!

The above photo beautifully captures the unmistakable, rugged, unique head-on look of a Power Wagon, and this bus still proudly wears its original coat of school bus yellow paint.  Just imagine being picked up for school each morning in this thing!  I live in New York and even in the state’s snowiest regions, the idea of a 4WD school bus with a front mounted winch seems preposterous nowadays.  Heck, my kids had a two-hour delay to school just this morning because of some minor icing on the roads!  The kids who rode this bus probably had to walk barefoot each day 5 miles uphill through waist-deep snow just to get to the bus stop.  Other than mentioning it “was the very last unit produced in 1948 according to its serial number,” the seller doesn’t provide any history as to where the bus was used for school conveyance.  There is some lettering on the driver side but I can’t make out the name of the school district, can you?  The seller claims the bus has been verified by an expert as the only one still known to exist whose body was built by Pennsylvania’s Boyertown Auto Body Works, and thus “a very rare Power Wagon for many reasons.”

Unfortunately, the passenger seats have been removed and it appears the squirrels have repurposed all of the fabric that used to cover the driver seat.  Even so, it would have been nice if the seller took the time to post more photos of the interior.  All of the side window glass is reported missing, however, the glass in the folding door is still intact and it’s nice to see both front windscreens have survived as well.

The seller proudly insists “this old boy runs and drives” with “no smoke or knocks” and he offers to “drive the truck onto the buyer’s shipping truck.” Brakes are hand operated.  The above photo of the engine bay shows the original 230 cubic inch flathead 6 after it was cleaned up a bit.  It has “good oil pressure,” according to the seller and the “radiator looks to be in good shape with antifreeze.”  The seller references a Power Wagon bus aficionado website here that is run by a fellow named Peter Sprouse, the aforementioned PW “expert.”  It looks like it’s been a while since the site has been updated but it provides some neat pictures of Power Wagon buses as well as a little bit of information about these rare trucks.  It appears Power Wagon bus fanatics are few and far between, but for the right person, this bus looks to be a good candidate for restoration or repurpose and it would be great to see it saved from further neglect.  Back in the 1970s, I rode to school each day in a Blue Bird school bus.  Are there any Barnfinds readers who made it to school in a Power Wagon?


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  1. TCOPPS Member

    Cool, absolutely, yes.
    Rare, sure.
    “More rare” because it’s the last one made of 17?? Hmm…OK?
    On Craigslist for $8000, sorry I just don’t see any value there. Even if I had the means to take this one on, that’d be a lot of love to buy-in at $8K.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree TCOPPS, Only 16 known untill this one was found. I did not see any production numbers on Peter Sprouse’s website. There could be hundreds or more sprinkled behind barns and in fields around the Country. As an old Willys guy I really like this. Pretty rusty rig, tie downs holding the back bumper on and so on. A pic of the frame would be nice, and easy to take on this. It doe’s have roll up windows for the passengers though.

  2. IkeyHeyman Member

    I grew up near Boyertown, PA – they fabricated a wide variety of bodies at the Body Works there. They had a lot of military contracts, especially during WWII. Here is a picture of one of their army trucks, looks to be basically the same body as the school bus above but in a van configuration.

    • Mountainwoodie

      IKEY H- Vintage Truck does a nice job covering Boyertown vans etc. This rig is cool and there was a time when I wanted to build a bus to travel in…thankfully I grew out of the urge…read I got lazy :)

  3. canadainmarkseh Member

    It going to need a lot of luvin too.

  4. canadainmarkseh Member

    It going to need a lot of luvin too, from what I can see.

  5. KSwheatfarmer Member

    I saw one of these sell at a north central Kansas farm sale about 20 years ago,only one I’ve ever seen. It was the star of the show that day,many comments about how rare it was were heard.One of seventeen certainly qualifies as rare.As I recall it brought about the same as the asking on this one.Hope some one does right by it.

    • William Eberline

      I used to visit my cousins in Chester, Ne/Belleville, Ks in the early 1950s (I was 6), and the Thayer County, Ne. school district had one of these as it’s winter school bus. Wonder if it’s the same one?

  6. Howard A

    Where was the school, on top of Monarch Pass?( elev. 11,312 ft) Not many snow days for these kids. Look at that shiny door closer. How many times you think that driver opened and closed that door? IDK, unless you have fond memories of riding in this, looks like just parts.

    • TCOPPS Member

      I bet that winch saw a lot of use if it traveled Monarch Pass on the regular! I’m sure old truckers like you have had to bring an extra pair or 2 of underwear!

      • Howard A

        Nah, just turn the old ones inside out, good to go,,,( truth be known, I never went over a mountain pass with a truck)

  7. Ernie Lindsay

    I’ve got a “Wayne” bodied 1953 Powerwagon on my farm…was once a hippie palace back in the ’70’s !

  8. Dave

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m seeing a monster truck build here. Most of the buses here were early 60s GMC because the dealer had the contract with the school district. One bus, Number 13, was a 1959 Ford that had a righteous exhaust note. One day I drew up a Ed Roth style caricature of the “Bad Luck Bus”, complete with smoking slicks, ginormous supercharged Hemi up front, and Rat Fink himself working the shifter. It earned me a trip to the principal’s office and a lecture about art being no way to earn a living.

    • CFJ

      Righteous post!

    • Gary Troxel

      Hi Dave, we had a resident Artist in our class of 58. One day in study hall he did a dollar bill. Wish I had still had it. Gary

  9. Frank

    I worked at Carpenter Body Works in Mitchell, In. back in the 60s. We built a short bus on an Autocar chassis, plus a custom coach for John Wayne.

  10. MB

    Very cool old bus that should be saved and used. Unique and interesting, not a powerful vehicle but very useful.

  11. Sidney

    Call Miss Frizzel, I think we found the “Magic School Bus”!

  12. skibum2

    Bought this off the first owner who bought it at Army surplus in Seattle… What an interesting vehicle… extra canvas with it too..Had a hard time getting $2500 for it,, kinda a special vehicle..good luck with the new owner..

    • G G

      yeah, M37s don’t bring the $ that them old PWs do

  13. G G

    done SOLD :-(

  14. Robert Desch

    Here is another one I know the location of.

  15. Frank Smith

    Production figures are askew…
    Shasta county schools had half a dozen or more. USAF had several dozen, USFS also had many. Would still have my Gillig Bros ’49 if I was 5’5″ tall !!

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