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Is That A GM “Old-Look” Transit Bus?

This is definitely something that we here don’t see often… it appears, to our untrained eyes, to be a public-transit bus from the 1940s and 1950s – specifically, an “Old Look” GM, for sale here on Craigslist near Reading, PA. For the sake of conversation, let’s assume that it is…

Beginning in 1940, that which is now called the “Old-Look” style of bus were crafted by Yellow Coach, until GM bought up the works in 1943. GM continued production of the monocoque-structured loaf-of-sandwich-bread with a choice of diesel or gasoline (in some cases, even an electric) propulsion engine, and these buses were a staple of public transit systems across America. A version of these were produced under license in Russia, as well, by a company called ZIS. They called theirs the ZIS-154 and -155

This one has obviously seen better days, but there’s something about it that has an aura of historical significance. When was the last time you saw one that wasn’t in a transportation museum? For those of you who are into the philosophical or supernatural: How many people must have come in and out of those doors, sat in the long-gone seats, maybe fallen asleep and dreamt what was beyond the four invisible walls of their hometown? Think of the stories those overhead light fixtures could tell!

The seller doesn’t mention any details at all, but that’s okay because they’re asking for “…best offer above scrap…” and someone, somewhere in these United States either needs parts or is ready to embark on a serious restoration project. For reference, a fully-restored one recently sold in California for a significant amount of money.

What about you? What stories might this bus have to tell? Would you be so bold as to attempt to resurrect a piece of Americana such as this?


  1. Avatar photo Chebby Member

    You are correct, it’s an old-look GM coach. They are really fun to drive, but you really wouldn’t want to own one. Sadly, this one is toast.

    I put in many, many miles behind the wheel of these old GM’s. Super slow but they ride like a cloud.


    Like 12
    • Avatar photo Paul Oberman

      Is that the greatful dead rig?

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    For many of us, these are the 1st buses we rode as kids. It’s perfect for what it’s being used for right now, storage. With scrap prices about $150/ton, probably get more that way.

    Like 10
  3. Avatar photo canadainmarkseh

    The cost in Windows alone would be quite high and this thing needs every single one of them. The mobile tiny house craze is in full gear right now but this one is to far gone.

    Like 5
  4. Avatar photo IkeyHeyman

    I wonder what a scrap yard would give you for this – there is a lot of labor involved in processing it, I would think. The body is aluminum, so that has to be separated from everything else, then the engine and any other cast iron has to be yanked out, and then you can start cutting up the floor and chassis. This is not a backyard project for the Average Joe with a Sawzall and acetylene torch.

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo grant

    Parts bus? For what parts?

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    Ikey, you don’t know my BIL and nephew
    do you? They’re scrap men through and
    through and would have this bus cut down in no time at all! Myself, I’d love
    to see it brought back to a usable
    condition be it a camper, a restored bus,
    or even a food truck. Another of my BILs
    worked as a baker in one of our local
    donut shops and I could just see him
    using this bus as a portable donut shop!
    Not only would he have the cops coming
    ’round, but half the town as well! He did
    very well until his lungs were coated with
    flour dust and grease that gave him a
    very strong case of COPD. I hope that
    someone out there gets this old gal
    back on the road again where she belongs. Maybe a Barn finds tour bus?…

    Like 9
  7. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    Well, I spent a lot of time on buses like this one, and they all have a story to tell. But do any of you remember those ad signs that adorned the upper walls, and across the rear? I’m going to relate a story that could cause the censors to kick me out of BF for life but my mother thought it was hilarious, and if she thought it was funny then it really couldn’t be half bad.

    A woman, great with child, got on the bus one day and sat down. She glanced around and noticed that a man across from her was smiling. She felt uncomfortable so she got up and moved to another seat. A glance back at the man and she saw that his smile had broadened. She flushed and moved again; she couldn’t help but she glanced back at the man, who started to laugh. She got up and moved again, only to find the guy all but rolling in the aisle. Highly humiliated she got up and complained to the driver who had the man arrested.

    In court the man was asked to explain himself, which he did:

    ‘When this lady got on the bus, I couldn’t help but notice her condition, which didn’t appear funny but when she sat under a sign: ‘The Gold Dust Twins are Coming,’ I had to smile. Then she got up and sat under a sign that read: ‘Watkins Ointment Will Reduce the Swelling,’ I had to grin. When she sat down under a sign that read: ‘Williams Stick Did the Trick,’ I had to laugh. But when she sat down under a sign that read: ‘Goodyear Rubber Could’ve Prevented This Accident,’ I couldn’t control myself.

    Case dismissed.

    Okay, I told it, but what can I do? It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’ve got to supervise a bunch of cadets taking admission at the annual swap meet that is going on today. And it’s cold enough to turn everyone into a bunch of space cadets…

    Like 18
    • Avatar photo leiniedude Member

      Now that is funny! Thanks for the laugh!

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      So it’s bus stories, hey? I have very few. Either my mom took us or we rode our bikes. I do remember, that cable that ran the length of the inside( you can see it it David’s pic above the windows) if you wanted to get off, you’d pull the cable and a buzzer would sound. The bus driver used to call out the streets too,,”Burleigh”,,,,”Locust”,,,”North Ave”.,,,and so on.
      My ex-brother-in-law has driven a Milwaukee County transit bus for like 30 years.

      Like 4
  8. Avatar photo lc

    As I gaze at this aluminum creature I drift off into Saturday dreamland. A 50 foot shop with ample room to shorten and slice 10 feet out of this land sub, after all its just me, my gal and our pup touring our states highways and there’s enough left over for a small storage shed…best wake up kid, this dream is runnin’ into the millions.

    Like 5
  9. Avatar photo Will Fox

    The writer is right; I look at this bus–which probably traveled city streets from about 1947 to roughly 1959 when the newer-style GM buses came out and wonder what kids rode on these across town on a Saturday with their buddies then, that are, say, in their 70s now? What couples met one another on one of these, simply commuting to work, that are now celebrating 50-60 years of marriage? If walls could talk, indeed………

    Like 6
  10. Avatar photo David F

    Thanks for the laugh and the memories.

    Like 9
  11. Avatar photo Paul Oberman

    I will tell you what you could do with this. Cut it in half and rent it as a bus interior filming location. Windows then could be plexi and nothing really needs to be fixed.

    Like 3
  12. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    Yeah Dave, I remember these signs too.
    You should’ve seen the signs they put on
    the outside of our buses back home in
    the late ’60’s/early ’70’s. Turned ’em into
    rolling billboards insude and out! Guess
    that’s how the cities made extra cash to
    keep their transit fleets rolling. Still recall
    as a kid seeing the Marlboro Man plastered on the driver’s side of each
    bus telling you to come to Marlboro

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo George

    The city I lived in during the 70s still had a few of these on the road every day. Years later I saw one that someone had bought from the city when they finally did surplus them and turned it into a hotdog stand.

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Samuel Grande

    I know that bus it was East Penn Transportation Pottsville PA. They went out 1981

    Like 0

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