Awesome Project! 1949 GMC Shorty Bus

I love shorty buses. When done right, they are really cool and are a great way to get to a car show or family event. The front ends look just like their pickup cousins and the large round passenger compartments are really cool looking. Check out this one that was built for NHRA racing legend John Force. The bus above is a 1949 GMC and can be found here on eBay with a current bid of just over $400! Located in Mardela Springs, Maryland the seller says they will deliver along the East coast for a fee.

The driver’s area is pretty bare. This bus is probably going to need an entire restoration to be road-worthy. The seller states that the suspension is from a 1985 Chevy Dually pickup. Unfortunately, the current bus doesn’t come with an engine. or transmission, but the seller says the chassis is set up for a small block V8 with automatic. It’s clear the steering wheel and column are donated parts. The gauges appear to be gone along with the headlight trim, etc.

In the back, there appear to be some grille components hiding behind two sets of new tires. The ad doesn’t mention anything about them, so I would assume nothing you see is included in the sale. The cool thing about these buses is they are a blank slate for the new owner. You could put in a few rows of seats, couch, dinette, pretty much anything.

Here you can see the dramatic curves of these buses…They are awesome! Unfortunately, the taillights and upper warning lights are missing. There are some dents and dings, but the body doesn’t look overly rusty. Hopefully, the suspension work was done well and the new owner won’t have to worry about that. This looks like a really fun project. How would you finish it if it was yours?


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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    This thing will be a black hole for your wallet.

    Like 8
    • slightly askew

      I agwee. I rimembur tacking the short bus to skool wood be fun to ryde in agin.

      Like 3
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    …. with a rusty colored tint.

    Like 5
  3. RayT Member

    I’ll bet you could really get this thing rockin’ for the price of a restored 356….

    Like 4
  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    A noble effort to modernize what would be better termed as a slug going down the road. The stock powertrain would definitely hold you back. Unfortunately this one is going to be an extensive effort to do it up either way. Fixed up as a custom it would be a fun unit to ferry friends around in style.

    I saw the episode of Overhaulin’ where they rebuilt John Force’s bus. It was quite a project to say the least, and I have to say that I was really impressed…

    Like 2
  5. Little_Cars

    I think the bodies on buses like this were dipped or galvanized from the cowl back. It’s the mild steel cabs, hoods, fenders and cowls that rust out. This example has all the hallmarks of a backyard hack job, but for hundreds of dollars you get those wheels and frame from an 85 Chevrolet dually.

  6. Little_Cars

    The green color still present reminds me of the Jewel Tea or Sears service trucks that used to roam my neighborhood in Northern Virginia. I’d be all over this vehicle if it at least “yard drove.” Currently there is a gaping hole where the tail of the transmission would be…and…the seller does NOT say that the whole chassis came from an 85 Chevy. Front bumper inside the bus looks like it was haphazardly chopped off with a Sawzall.

  7. BR

    Currently at $60/ton, I think the seller is dreaming.

  8. Lance

    Mayberry marching band bus.

    Like 4
  9. JagManBill

    Find a late model wrecked 4wd GMC/Chevy 1 ton dually, toss the body, fit this one on it, find a totaled Suburban, strip it, put it all in here, and you have the ultimate tow/family rig

    Like 1
  10. Babbling Bus Guy

    Oh, my wife would absolutely positively KILL ME if I drug this home. Just think of the size of the hole in the ground if I changed my final arrangements to request to be buried in this…talk about having the last laugh!

    Like 1
  11. John Member

    Yup, a lot of work and $$$$$, I find a donator F450 as heavier built, 1 tn is too lite
    for this body

  12. Chebby Staff

    Great ol’ skoolie design. Cadillac steering column makes me wonder if you could put an Eldorado drivetrain in it and make it FWD like the GMC motorhomes?

    But this one might be best as a funky backyard tiny house. As rare as it may be, it’s the not the first one I’ve ever seen and you’d probably be better off finding a better one to drive.

    Like 1
  13. Babbling Bus Guy

    Chebby, did you just make a pun? “Great ol’ skoolie design”? Skool bus? EXCELLENT!

    Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey

    If anyone is serious about buying this, I can ride down to see it, It’s only about a 2 hour drive, and a short drive to the Atlantic ocean near Ocean City, MD

  15. Del

    I love Short Buses too 😁

    Last time I was committed I rode in one.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey


      I guess you could say you’re committed to short buses!

      Like 1
  16. the one

    Project or reject?

    Like 2
  17. Don

    is this the bus that Chip Foose redid on the TV show “Overhaulin?”

  18. Paolo

    Chicken coop.

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