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Coolest Short Bus: 1948 Chevrolet School Bus

1948 Chevrolet Short Bus

I love vintage school buses, not only are they loaded with history, they are just simply cool looking! It seems like the older they are, the better the styling. This 1948 Chevy school bus doesn’t just have those great late ’40s looks, but it is a unique little short bus! The patina is interesting to say the least, but I think whether you leave it as is or fully restore, it’s going to be one sweet bus. Find it here on eBay in Pomona, California with a BIN of $7,299.

The Shortest Bus

I think one of the reasons I find buses like this so cool is that by the time I was riding a school bus, they had become big square boxes without any style. They were definitely functional and effective, but they weren’t anything to get excited about. If a bus like this had pulled up in front of my house every morning, I might have actually been excited to go to school! Alright, that might be a bit of a stretch, but I’d love to climb into a bus like this one now.

1948 Chevrolet Bus Engine

The seller doesn’t really provide us with much information or history. They claim the engine is original, but they don’t know if it turns over or not. Perhaps I’m wrong in thinking it would be easy to check and see if the engine is free? It is currently parked in a warehouse in Long Beach and can be viewed Monday through Friday. If anyone is near by and could go check this bus out, we would love to hear if the engine is free and how bad the rust is! Personally, I’d also love to know more about this buses history. Does anyone know if there are records available about the routes or school districts this bus might have worked in? It would definitely be interesting to learn more about the life this bus lived! So would you like to take a ride on the short bus?


  1. Avatar photo MH

    That’s great. High on the price. Would be fun to see one restored to 100% factory. Everyone I see seems to be a custom creation.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Mike H

      Technically, school busses were all custom creations. Cab and chassis were generally sent to a builder and were built to a specification. There were many different builders all over the country which is why you see so many variations on the similar theme.

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Cool find, HOWEVER, the term “short school bus” was an extremely derogatory term when I was a teenager. Usually, the special needs children rode a “short school bus” and were the target of ridicule. If someone did something stupid, right away the joke was, “what, did you ride a “short school bus” to school”? Not insinuating that Josh feels that way, it’s just, with as thin skinned as people are today, you may offend someone that actually rides a “short school bus”. Rural areas used short school buses, and many have gone back to that now, ( mostly vans) as fewer and fewer families, with school kids, live in rural areas. This is a cool find, and probably would make a good camper conversion with a late model drive train. Other than that, it’s just an old school bus.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo grant

      The question “do you ride the short bus” could be offensive, depending on context, but the term “short bus” is merely descriptive.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo geomechs Member

      Hi guys. That Short-Bus moniker was obviously used across the country. I rode a short-bus, first in the form of a totally worn-out ’56 IH, then a not quite so totally worn-out ’58 GMC. I had teachers coin the phrase: ‘What’s wrong with you, did you ride the short-bus again?’ But that was also back in the day when they still used the strap, or gave you a detention where you really got put to work. Then, when you got home, your dad was standing there, brandishing the belt…

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Blindmarc

    Where I grew up, the kids that lived in the mountains were brought to school in these.

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Al

    Ever since they redid John Forces school bus on Overhaulin I was thinking of one of these.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo grant

    I’ve always wanted to do one of these up in the style of Ken Kesey’s Further, it would make a neat camper, and you could call it “A Little Further.” Someone please steal that idea, it’s too good and I’m not going to ever probably do it.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Chebby

      “A little further”. Grant, that’s great.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Chebby

    Josh check this one out too. A little homely but cool, I think people are dragging a lot of old hippie campers out of junkyards now that they are being seen as collectible.

    Personally, I think the best looking short buses are the 55-57 GM ones with the tri-five Chevy truck nose.


    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Rotag999

    This almost look’s like the one Gas Monkey had on there show price is too damn steep not sure if owner smoked too much catnip or what…!

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    I can imagine riding in this one over 20 miles of gravel roads twice a day. A 216 Stovebolt with a four speed transmission and a top speed of (maybe) 40 mph, through rain, through blizzards, through 30 below temperatures. It was such a treat to see a newer version GMC with a full-pressure 270 that hit a whopping–45 mph. Oh, the memories: The dust and the flat tires, the exhaust coming apart and burning through the brake hose. The owner/driver driving it for a couple of days using the E-brake before he fixed it, and that was likely because there was an inspection coming up. And yet, this old bus appeals to me; I must have lost a few brain cells…

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Bill

      I tell you what, you know he used the emergency brake. Didn’t we all? You just learnt to give some more distance and begin stopping sooner. I used to get pretty good making graceful and smooth stops using the hand brake. See, no emergency…

      I remember during a field trip asking a bus driver whether he floored it. “Yup, all the way down, all the way back.” Us boys were impressed.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo JimmyinTEXAS

    I don’t know if the price of this “short bus” is too high or not…
    Here is a little earlier version, a lot higher price but most of the heavy lifting has already been done…

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Rob

    Back in ’08, a Dude did his Chevy up this ‘Old School’ way, hotrodded naturally, but I think all on here will agree, ’twas oh so cool.. :)

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Robert White

      Nice hotrod bus, thanks for posting it.


      Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Steve

    As far as the engine goes, if the one in it isn’t original, its correct. That not saying much. You can tell by the center bolt valve cover. They didnt have full pressure lubrication and iirc, they are the “babbit pounder” engines where the rod bearing was poured integrally with the rod. They had shims that could be removed as the bearing wore, to keep oil pressure up. Good boat anchors.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo sdwarf36

    If you want to see a good website for school bus conversions-with a few old bus restorations- http://www.skoolie.net . And btw-I own a short bus. Its name is Sped.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo David Hill

    I would Love to have this. Fix up tailgate & Rod runs.

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Gregory

    What a splendid old bus. I’ve always had an affinity for old school buses, particularly the ones from the ’40s through the early ’60s. The really unique school buses had cabs from heavy duty trucks like the R series International’s and the White WC series which are incredibly rare nowadays as buses. Those are two of my personal favorites. Boy I wish I owned a classic old school bus to tinker with, but my wife would never hear of it😢

    Like 0

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