Buford’s Bus: 1968 Chevy 90 Van

Do celebrity connections help move inventory when it comes to project vehicles? I’m not sure, but the seller of this weathered rescue van for the McNairy County municipality in Tennessee throws out a curious anecdote about this patina’d emergency vehicle: it was ridden in by none other than Buford Pusser, affecitionately known as “Buford the Bull” in the southern states. Find this oddball van here on eBay with an opening bid of $6,900. 

I don’t claim to know much about Buford, but I did recall that he was the inspiration behind the film Walking Tall, which has been re-imagined in recent years with a modern recreation. Pusser had a reputation for cracking down on all sorts of nefarious activities, from prostitution to bootlegging, and likely made a few enemies along the way. Why he was out and about riding in this ‘Rescue Squad’ van isn’t disclosed, but given he personally owned a modified Corvette, it seems like he at least enjoyed the open road.

The van is a bit unique for being a no-window model, but I suppose that isn’t too unusual among vehicles owned by municipalities. The seller claims there’s no rot-through on this Chevy 90, and that it’s one of the straightest he’s seen. The original engine has been removed but is included in the sale (it’s actually already on a pallet in the back of the van); it was swapped out for a V8 when it started to smoke. The lights and sirens still work and are included, which is good news considering the van is photographed with that wicked siren still attached to the roof.

While the history in this case doesn’t necessarily add any value, the Chevy would sure be an interesting talking point at any car shows you attend with it. Personally, I dig the connection to Mr. Pusser and would love to know if any period photographs exist with him riding shotgun, peering out over the door sill for any bootleggers or other rabble rousers unlucky enough to be in his jurisdiction. Would you restore this Chevy 90 or drive it as-is?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Joe

    Buford liked his corvettes AND he liked his booze.

    Probably combined them at some point hence the ambulance ride

  2. M/K

    yep i was thinking meat wagon not a paddy wagon

  3. BronzeGiant

    The item on the roof is the Beacon Ray warning light, not the siren. The siren is most probably buried behind the grille someplace close to the engine compartment.

    • Mike H. Mike H

      Funny (to me) that most people commonly mistake sirens and warning lights. The beacon on the top of an emergency vehicle is not a “siren”, although some units in the 1960’s and 1970’s DID have the siren installed in the middle of the light bar. The term “siren light” (as in “you look good in the siren light”) has always been confusing to me as a siren makes a sound and doesn’t provide any sort of illumination.

      Sorry. Please carry on. . .

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I always liked this style of van. While they were mostly six cylinder powered a few V-8 powered units came into the territory. There’s a ’67 window unit that has a 283/Powerglide. It spent its first year as a feeder school bus but the owner decided to retire from bus duties and used it as the family car. However, the wife preferred too drive a car so the van was parked for many years. Today it’s on a ranch not too far from the south butte of the Sweetgrass Hills. I haven’t seen it for about 15 years but a friend insists that it’s still there, and in good shape. And it’s NOT for sale….

    Regarding this one, I wonder if Buford’s big stick is in there someplace?

  5. Dave Wright

    My dad had a fleet of these in one of his truck companies, they were so bad in the snow that the insurance company made him sell all of them…….I have done a 360 on a flat icy road in one…….was a pretty good feeling when it finally got stoped.

  6. Smittydog

    Tin ovens.

  7. Tim Rusling

    I had a ’70 Handi-Van, 350 – 4V with 3 on the tree. It was never a problem in bad snow or rotten weather EXCEPT when the windows fogged up. The door fits were so bad that when I did burnouts, the tire smoke would fill the whole interior.
    I painted a yellow hotrod on the left side, where the van tires were the coupe’s tires, the door handle was the hood ornament and the van’s side marker light was the coupe’s taillight. And the van gas cap was also the coupe’s gas cap. In the coupe’s driver’s window was Max Headroom, and the van name was To the Max. My photos of it are all that’s left of it – great fun, though.

    Like 1
  8. 68 custom

    I predict that no one will fork over the buy it now price of 12900$ but if it is rust free and decent running I would love to have it for about 2500$. I hate most rat rods but this one would look cool with a nice set of wheels and dual exhaust with glass packs! leave the patina and the eyeball!

  9. half cab

    Wasn’t he killed in that corvette? Or a corvette?

    • rando

      Yes. And there is speculation that the car was somehow messed with to cause it to wreck. Google it and there is plenty to read. The car is still in the Buford Pusser Museum. Pics on the net, etc.

  10. dj

    I met Buford when I was a kid. He was having his Corvette serviced when me and Dad were at the dealership getting Corvette parts. He was very nice and shook my hand.

    • Duane Boda

      IF you were a girl then I bet my last

      dollar that Buford had future ulterior

      motives. The no account snake in

      the grass. 🐍

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