1955 Ford School Bus: Ride the Short Bus


When Barn Finds reader Chuck Foster sent in this 1955 Ford School Bus he spotted here on craigslist, I had to write it up. You see, one of my fondest memories of elementary school was riding past an identical bus in the woods alongside busy Rt. 82 near Hopewell Junction in New York. The yellow paint was faded and woodlands creatures had taken it over, but it was otherwise the same bus that hundreds of children before me had ridden. It’s gone now – I was disappointed on that return trip home to see it missing – but this short bus gives me hope it found a new owner and wasn’t simply scrapped by the town. Though it’s a lot of sheetmetal to clean up and restore, I’m sure these old buses are quite the conversation starter with some modern steel wheels, wide tires and the faded green paint preserved underneath a coat of clear. Swap in the hot-rod mill of your choice and take some friends along for the ride! Would you ever take on a project like this?


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  1. Nick G

    “Fair” condition! That must be a bell curve at work?

  2. Howard A Member

    Sadly, I’d sell the front clip to someone restoring a ’55 Ford pickup ( or larger type, they all used the same front end) and use it to store your car parts. Years ago, when I was a kid, the term “short school bus” was a very derogatory term, meaning, mentally challenged kids rode on a special “short school bus”. Man, we were cruel back then.

  3. RayT Member

    When I was 16 — yes, back in the 1960s — I would have cheerfully taken it on. Maybe not for $1500, because you could buy a Real Car then for that price (my first car, a ’59 Hillman Minx, cost me all of $50, plus $20 or so in parts to make it safe). Bright yellow, with SBC and automatic, plus a/c/ and necessary amenities for sleeping/touring.

    Now? I don’t think so. Taking a friend or two on board and making a Grand Tour with minimal money doesn’t have the same appeal it did then.

  4. cory

    Cool, but a little too far gone. Would have to have some serious horsepower to make it fun. I would lean toward modern diesel powerplant.

  5. Craig bothwelll

    I remain a little more than curious why motivated sellers do so little in the way of providing to few or substandard photographs.

  6. Lemble

    As a kid we had a regular 55 Ford Bus converted to a camper. 292 Y block rebuilt by Luttrell’s auto parts in Toledo OH. Sadley they are both gone. Man that thing was a smooth runner. No very fast but it was vacation. Tire size was always a problem because they were an odd size for what was around even in the 70’s . The bottom skirts were rusted more than this bus pictured. We painted it something like the Partridge Family bus. Made it easy to find in the camp ground. It became know ass the hippy bus I found out later. LOL More pictures would be nice and are the hood and missing doors inside the bus?

  7. JW454

    From 1961 to 1965, first through fourth grade, I rode a bus very similar to this to school. No, it wasn’t the “Short bus” as mentioned earlier. We lived in a very rural area and there just weren’t enough kids to need a longer bus. Mr. Day was the driver. A crotchety old man that had no qualms about letting you know if he didn’t like the way you were behaving. Sit down and shut up was the order of the day while on his bus. His attitude and approach wouldn’t fly today I’m thinking.

  8. The Walrus

    I think this was probably a 25-28 passenger bus, so it’s more of a mid size unit than a short bus. That makes it a perfect candidate, in my opinion, to rework as an RV. Maybe a slightly larger version of this … http://www.winkarch.com/project.php?id=65

    • Bobsmyuncle

      VERY cool!

  9. Rustowner

    Jeff, I saw the picture of this bus and thought back to the old buses I used to see in the woods on my ride home from school…….in Hopewell Junction. I almost spit out my beer when I started reading your description! Small world. I remember the one in the woods by rt 82 and the parkway by the A&P, there were a couple of bigger ones on Emans rd, and another closer to Hopewell…..can’t remember the road name, but was near Palen rd and the railroad tracks. Which one were you remembering? I’d sure love to know! Please post here when you get a chance or contact me via email. Thanks, E

  10. Texas Tea

    These bodies actually make for a good goat shelter, but not at $1500.00. Unbolt the body from the chassis and drag it off onto the ground. Sell the front clip and haul the rest to be recycled.

  11. Jason

    Dr. Teeth and the Electric mayhem tribute bus is all I could think when I saw the pics.

    Cheers, J

  12. grant

    I have always wanted to do up one of these. My vision is for a camper inside, and outside it would be a miniature version of Ken Kesey’s bus. I’d call it “A Little Further.” Now, since I probably won’t ever do it, please someone steal that idea, ’cause it’s just cool.

  13. kenzo

    wouldn’t take this one on ever. But a friend has one that he cruises the west coast from Vancouver Canada to mid Mexico every year and absolutely loves it

  14. oldnash

    Anyone have an idea what bus body this was? For years I rode a 1955 Ford with a Wayne body…60 passenger. Very nice looking bus. Still remember when I rode it as a brand new bus in the first grade.

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