21 Window Alternative: 1949 Flxible Clipper Sightseer

With all the hubbub over the 21-window Volkswagen Buses – and the crazy prices they are still commanding – perhaps it’s time to look at some cheaper alternatives with the same amount of sunlight on board. This 1949 Flxible Clipper Sightseer bus is loaded with windows that are surprisingly intact, and the seller has listed it here on craigslist with some major mechanical work done for just $10,000 – a far cry from the six-figure Buses at Russo & Steele.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. Check out that cabin – ripe for installing whatever your imagination can drum up for a custom living configuration. Even better, someone’s done the grungy work of cleaning out whatever fixtures were giving rodents and critters shelter for years while this bus languished in (likely) forced retirement. I’m stunned to see the glass panels intact, as those are likely impossible to source when broken.

Now, to the mechanical bits: the seller notes this bus runs and drives quite well, with power sourced from a Cadillac 500 engine and mated to a Turbo 400 transmission that shifts smoothly. Although the interior renovation won’t be cheap, finding a vintage Flxible like this that’s already had the drivetrain gone through is a major burden lifted off the next owner. There’s also a new fuel pump, Edelbrock carb, and fresh brakes.

So, how would you configure this vintage Sightseer? Would you make it a true R/V with a kitchenette, sleeping quarters, a bathroom, and more? Or would you keep it simple, installing some tables, seats, a bunk bed or two and use portable cookware for nourishment component of your journey? Whichever way you go, you’ll likely be the only one at the campsite in a Flxible.

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Comments

  1. Will Fox

    This one (probably minus the roof windows) is alot like the ‘drafty’ bus Buddy Holly’s other band members rode that fateful night in `59.
    But seriously; this would make a spectacular motor home, done right! I would completely deck it out, but plenty of cushy seating (fold-out beds?), tables, and a means to do some light cooking. The roof panels would really add alot to the interior feeling of openness and provide much needed light. This would look great in a cream and maroon color scheme of some sort!

    Like 1
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Great tour bus if I eanted to go back out on the road again. First time I did it, i travelled around in a worn-out schoolbus.
    This would also make a great RV or even a medical transport bus as well. Here in
    Inverness, medical transportation to the
    Doctor’s office is very hard to find. It’s got
    possibilities. Hope the right buyer finds it and puts it on the road again.

  3. Chevychase71 Member

    Very interesting ride. Have never seen another. Depending on far you are from the warm weather, all those windows can make or break the deal. Can you imagine this bus in Miami in July? Ooouuff! Youll need a central air unit the size of a house to keep the drinks from evaporating! It surely is interesting but if Wally World was in Florida, it would be a very loney and sticky trip for Mr. Chase.

    Like 1
  4. 71FXSuperGlide

    Would be a cool retro project. Interesting it’s not a diesel.

    • BR

      These never were originally diesel powered. The original engine was a Buick straight eight.

      • moosie moosie

        So then the 500″ Caddy motor should have no problem moving it on down the boulevard huh.

      • BR

        Depends Moosie. The Buick engines were derated for continuous output (consider frontal area resistance cubes with every 10 mph increase). Not so with the Cad, unless you derated it also. And you will need a big transmission cooler because those transmissions and torque converters weren’t designed for continuous loading either, that’s where you want an Allison. The Cad drive train is designed for a car. This is much different than a motorhome.

        Like 1
      • Bob S

        Yep, and a 454 with a turbo 400 does an excellent job of pushing these units down the highway. I know someone that did the conversion, and it made an excellent motorhome.
        The turbo 400 has a shift kit, uses synthetic transmission fluid, and has a cooler. There is no problem with transmission temperature. His unit is considerably lighter than my 38 foot motorhome. I can’t see any problem using the Caddy with the TH 400, back in the 70s and 80s, they made lots of large units with Chevy, Ford, and Dodge big blocks and automatic transmissions.
        My unit uses a Ford 460 with a C6. It is a 1989, and has been an excellent vehicle. It can cruise all day at 65mph, or higher if I want to buy the gas.
        Bob

      • Poppapork

        Omg you people and your TH400s! Get real… to.have a 3 speed with no OD and no Lockup is plain moronic! Yes they do well in UPS trucks with large frontal area but for.christ sakes you would like to go over 35mph in a full size bus yes? Whats.the matter with people…

        Like 1
  5. Scott Brookman

    This is similar to the tour bus idea. Recording studio! Not sure I’d make it a mobile studio or just use the space. It would be a very bizarre labor of love, but what an ace gimmick!

  6. Butchb

    I’m wondering what the interior ceiling height is. I notice it has a dropped center walkway. Dust off the Singer. The first thing a lady will want is curtains for those upper windows.

  7. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Now that’s one that makes a statement! Would love to see it back on the road again.

    Like 1
  8. Pete Phillips

    I have NEVER seen any bus like this, with the windows in the roof! This needs to be in the AACA Museum in Hershey. Some of these Flxible buses in the 1940s had Buick’s 320 cu. in. straight eight for an engine. Would love to know what this one originally had. Whoever gets this, it is quite a find!

    Like 2
  9. Ethan

    Certainly there is more room and overall appeal than a VW bus, and much more possibilities.

    Like 1
  10. Mountainwoodie

    “Hippies Use The Side Door”………………….lol………..what?

    Did Spiro “The Zero” Agnew own this bus?

    You’d have to make some sliding covers for the roof lights…..change the tranny and engine to an Allison,add a tranny cooler. ( hire BR to consult) ………and build some Forties Art Deco interior and then you’d have to add another sign (hehehe).

    I should have been a millionaire………..

  11. boxdin

    With those windows on a sunny day you could bake bread in there.

  12. Oldsole

    I have one, they are nice coaches. We get plenty of attention wherever we go.

    This is a later Visicoach, not a Clipper (see side windows). It is a sightseer model, more intriguing and shorter but as many point out have thermal issues (greenhouse).

    Adequate ceiling height with the center aisle for 6’4″ occupants. It’s monocoque construction, so the frame rails are integrated not just stacked.

    The existing powertrain should move it down the road just fine, if you can afford the fuel at 4-5mpg but the real problem is controlling speed on a downhill grade. Plenty of options available if you want more power and with a well set up diesel you can expect 10-12mpg and a pacbrake.

    Like 1

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