Live Auctions

Big Barn Find: 1950 GM Transit Bus

I can only imagine the size of the barn this thing was found it! It is being sold by the third owner, who acquired it the estate of a private collector, so presumably it was kept in a large structure intended for such a vehicle. The second owner purchased this bus from Knoxville Transit Lines in Tennessee, the original company that ordered and operated this bus, which is pretty cool!  The seller seems like a fountain of GM bus knowledge, and includes ample information in the listing. Find it here on eBay in Pennsylvania with an asking price of $24,000.

The seller notes that one thing that really makes this bus unique is the presence of all the original passenger seating, not to mention ceiling advertisements. Many vintage buses have been converted into motorhomes (either well, or poorly) and it is uncommon to come across one in its original state like this. I have seen some really neat, well-done bus to motorhome conversions, but there’s something about a city bus this old still being a city bus that is so much cooler! The seller advises strongly against converting this bus, as it is worth more in this configuration. The bus is 35 feet long and seats 45 passengers.

Though all of the passenger seating looks to be in very nice condition, the driver’s area of the bus is in considerably worse shape. The dash is also a little crusty, but intact and looks like it might clean up well. I’m not entirely sure what someone would use a city bus for, but perhaps a vintage car club could make use of it as a shuttle to local events. There are enthusiasts for everything, so it is likely that this bus will make its way into the hands of a collector, which is probably where it will be most appreciated.

Everything missing from the exterior of the bus (lights, destination sign, etc.) is included with the sale. The seller removed these items to prevent theft while it is in outdoor storage. The body is in pretty good shape considering the age and a life of service, but it does have some minor rust issues on the bottoms of the doors. This bus has the original Detroit Diesel engine, and Allison 2-speed automatic transmission, which is not capable of highway use. It tops out at 50MPH,and is designed for in-town use. This bus will need some work to be roadworthy, as well as a large trailer to transport it, but the seller is willing to assist in having it stored, repaired, and provided the number of a local shipping company. It is located at a bus repair shop, so if repairs were desired prior to delivery it is a possibility. The seller has included a plethora of interesting and valuable information in the ad, and even if you don’t want to buy a bus it is worth a read!


  1. DrinkinGasoline

    Wow. Days gone by. Dropping a dime to go downtown while cutting school for a day of fun. Another dime got you back home with nobody the wiser……Oh wait, Dad was the wiser. I got my @zz whipped. Good times !

    Like 2
  2. Ensign Pulver

    When I was 11 or so in the very early seventies, our class trip always included a “modern” coach and one of these. I always hung back and waited so the coach would fill. God I love these old transit buses.

  3. Rod444

    Used to own a mid 60s GM city bus, very similar configuration with the Detroit diesel. Most interesting feature was the “V-drive” transmission. Engine was sideways at the back but the transmission had a V shape to feed the power at a sharp angle.back to the rear end.

    • Ed P

      Thanks for the picture. This explains the V drive very well.

  4. Superdessucke

    The wheels on the bus go round n round! Round n round! Round n round! The wheels on the bus go round n round! Round n round! Round n round! All through the town!

    Sorry, I got carried away there. Carry on.

  5. RS

    You could buy a much better one with a partial motor home conversion for the price of that hulk.

  6. Jeffro

    Sorry, but I’d push it back in the barn…set it on on fire and collect insurance money. Smores anyone?

  7. glen

    It’s a bus! where do I park it?

    • Ed P

      In a really big parking space.

    • Superdessucke

      Truthfully, it’s probably not that much longer than a new Tahoe, and soccer moms park those all the time!

  8. Madmatt

    I bet ralph cramden drove it,why said price is
    A bit high,but where can you find another in that shape!
    Really cool,and I hope it like so many vehicles on here
    Finds a nice owner🤔I love the idea of a car club using it
    For big events,would love to ride in it!

  9. boxdin

    My town ABQ had the short version of these and I rode them as a kid. I was impressed going up a steep hill near home it would shift into high gear in the middle of that hill and keep going strong.

    • Kenneth Atkinson

      You park a bus in a bus barn. I owned a bus company inHouston Texas and I hate to inform you But that city trans
      Bus is not worth , well, not much. A good GM Silversides motor coach has value as a great foundation for a motorhome. Not many folks want to have a motor home for. Ityonly use
      Top speed on that city coach is 45/50 mph. U want one? I dont

  10. Howard A Member

    Just when you think you’ve seen it all here, stuff like this pops up. I don’t think there’s a person alive, from a big city, that didn’t ride one of these. As a kid, there were just places too far away to ride your bike, this bus was it.( taking your little suitcase of slot cars to the track across town) I remember, the bus driver would call out the cross streets, and there was a long cable, I don’t see it here, you’d pull it, and ENNNHH, a buzzer would sound, indicating, you wanted to get off. And you always got a “transfer”. These were powered by a Detroit 2 cycle 4-71, and later the 6-71 ( oh boy) Both, stinky noisy things, but they did the job. I don’t understand where people get the numbers for the prices of these things, what, is there some website, ” How to gouge people when buying treasured memories”. And I agree with the seller, it is a rare piece. Of the 38,000 “old look” buses made, I’m sure very, VERY few remain, but it’s an old bus, for heavens sake. It’s going to cost a ton to restore, and kind of like a fire engine, cool, but it’s going to sit, and if you think storing a Lincoln is a problem, this, again as much. Maybe Hollywood would buy it, and piss away a fortune restoring it for a movie, but I just don’t see the average family man buying something like this, especially for $25g’s.
    Thanks for the memories, Andrew ( and BF’s) and please, I know we got carried away on the “rat rod” thread. It’s bound to happen. we have a lot of varied opinions from people from all walks of life here, all with tons of experience, and differences of opinion are going to happen. The common gene with us, and why we’re here, is because we all love cars, and I can’t find another website that brings so many memories to so many people. I close with this, and if you like this, it tells you what era I hail from.

  11. Chebby

    I used to drive several of these across the country and back in the early 2000’s. They are cool, and if diligently maintained, still very capable. The air suspension—which this one doesn’t have—gives a ride as nice as on a new bus. The power, or lack of it, is another story. They are slowwwwww.

    That angle drive is neat but very inefficient, I remember talk in the shop back in the day that every degree over 90 that the driveshaft is angled results in a certain % fewer brake horsepower. The entire engine, trans and rear subframe (including the chrome bumper) is one unit, made to be removed and replaced in minimal time, kinda like a big VW. So when your cross-country Greyhound stopped at the depot, they could re-power it during the time you ate lunch. As noted though, this is an around-town bus.

    The seller seems to know his stuff, but he should also be well aware these are worth next to nothing in this condition. It looks unique, but you can still find bunches of them rotting in big-vehicle junkyards. Seized engine, spring suspension, automatic, and city gearing are big minuses. Even if you swapped in the 4-speed manual with highway gears, top speed is about 62mph depending how you set the governor.

    It might be good for wine tours or something like that, but you’re going to spend $20k easy just to get this running, then there’s all the cosmetics.

  12. jw454

    I remember these roaming the streets ferrying riders to and fro. The few times I rode them it seemed everything in them rattled incessantly. Nice to see one still complete.

  13. Jay E.

    The interior looks a bit like the one where Forrest met Jenny.

  14. Tom Member

    Very cool, but not $24K cool. when the term “private collector” is used, I think of Jay Leno…..this “private collector” seems to be in line with Sanford & Son. Private Collector and Hoarder are not the same thing. “Acquired in the estate of a Private Collector” sounds a lot like “something I got for free”.

    WHO (qualified appraiser) put the value on this thing? I really like these old buses BUT in all reality, for someone really interested in it, I am thinking $2,400 + the big cost of hauling it out of there and the massive cost of restoration.

  15. Si McMurray

    Mr. Tanner:

    Thanks for finding and posting one of our old buses. We currently have a 1957 model fully restored. We kinda guessed at the original paint scheme; it looks like we got it pretty close.

    Si McMurray
    Chief Maintenance Officer
    Knoxville Area Transit

    • Wil Shook

      Hi! Yes you did and you didn’t. You are talking about 409. I saw the scrap book pictures of it, got to get on it, sit in the drivers seat, and one of your mechanics, graciously started it up and backed it out so I could take some pictures of it. My Dad drove for KTL from the 40’s until mid 70’s. So he helped wear both of these coaches out. I have a book by William Luke that has two pictures of old KTL coaches turning on to Gay St near the old Trailways terminal. I get homesick looking at old KTL coaches from Dads time there. They remind me of him, Herb Kitts, Bud Curtis, Don Prater and so many more. By the way, 327 was on Ebay many years ago.

  16. Wayne

    Thanks for the memory Howard!
    Tom, I agree with you all the way.

  17. ROTAG999

    We still had these in service @ Seattle Transit which became King County Metro Transit i worked for them from 1974-2003 we had some very old equipment most of still good and better then some of the newer coaches we got like Amg and Mann from Germany and Breda from Italy also ran the Monorail Alweg also from Germany and worlds fair from 1962.

  18. ROTAG999

    Some of our coaches in better shape then this sold @ Auction for $500 and up.

  19. duaney Member

    I remember riding these in Denver, then they all disappeared. Wondered where they all went?

    • Ed P


  20. David Miraglia

    As everyone here knows I drive buses. This one has been on eBay for quite some time. For a old look, she’s a bit overpriced. Would love to have her as a
    collectors bus, but I first have to find a place to keep her. Love the old 671 inline
    engine and manual steering. But the price has to come down.

  21. ROTAG999

    The later air ride coaches are so much better then this leaf spring frontend you will not fall asleep driving this there is a lot of wood used in these also in the roof sections nothing wrong just pointing it out. Wood i am sure was cheaper and plenty around in the 50’s.

  22. Dustin

    Clean up the interior and redo the exterior and this bus would be one of the really cool vehicles at Early Iron Car Show in Alamosa, CO, USA.

  23. w.c.shook

    I saw this bus for sale earlier. It almost brought tears to my eyes. This coach is very sentimental for me. My Dad helped wear this bus out and many others during his days at Knoxville (Tn) Transit Lines, later K-Trans and now KAT, Knoxville Area Transit. I most likely rode in it at some point in my childhood. It makes me sad to see what was once a proud coach looking like this. Thank you for posting this picture again. It allowed me to remember and visit with my Dad, again, when he was well and had his health.

  24. Si McMurray

    Don’t be sad, those buses served us well. We still have one, fully restored. We use it for parades and special events.

    Si McMurray
    Chief Maintenance Officer
    Knoxville Area Transit

  25. w.c.shook

    I know, I sat in it, had my picture taken in it and by it! I saw the photos of it where it was found in a pasture. Bus #409, “Sputnik” when KTL first got it and some sister buses of the same series, TDH-4512’s. A very special “Thank You” to the mechanic who cranked up and backed it out for me! Bus #321 sold on eBay a number of years ago. I know they have been gone for a few decades now, but do you happen to know where #’s 610-612, 614-615, TDH-3501’s, went when they were retired? One of them went to KPD. They were the Toro-flow diesels. Originally, they were white tops with a band of black above the windows and belt line, and gold bodies. They matched the Valley Bus Lines buses that were connected to KTL system. Dad drove there from in the ’40’s – 1976 or so. All the people he worked with are either retired or dead. Badge #271. Thank you for your response, a most wonderful surprise! I just miss Dad and my times around the old carbarn and dispatchers office.

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