Lost Scenicruisers and Found Memories

GM-Scenicruiser

From Sid Cannon – My wife and I were in Baker Oregon this past weekend for the Baker City Memorial Cruise. We were told that the best place to get a great meal was in Haines, Oregon so we headed that way. Haines is a very small town on Highway 30 about 10 miles north of Baker. When the interstate by-passed Haines many years ago the city went into decline like many other small towns that suffered the same fate. The steak house definitely survived and is still the best place to eat in the Baker Valley. That’s not the point of this story though.

camper-bus

When visiting small towns, I like to crisscross every street just to see what I can find. As twilight fell, I spotted two old Greyhound buses that brought back the memory of a trip I made with my mother back in 1955 when I was seven years old. We traveled from Rupert to Moscow, Idaho to visit my sister who had just given birth to my first niece. I remember climbing the first set of stairs onto the GM Greyhound Scenicruiser bus and then ascending the second set of stairs up to the elevated section. It would be like boarding a Boeing 747 for a child of today.

greyhound-buses

The bus on the right had been converted into a poor man’s motor home some time ago and was in a state of serious disrepair. Since most of the passenger area was elevated the cargo holds were huge. You could have put a VW bug in each one of them! The second bus looked like it was the parts bus for the first one but actually looked better since it still retained most of its original charm.

Scenicruiser_Greyhound

You never know what you might find in a small town! The Scenicruiser was built exclusively for Greyhound by GM between 1954 and 1956. They were used up until the 70s and many of us probably have memories of either riding in them or seeing them on the highways during trips. They are part of our culture and even though over 1,000 were built, very few remain on the roads today. It may not be our typical offering here on Barn Finds, but I love it! Thanks for sharing this with us Sid and we hope to hear from you again!

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Comments

  1. Shilo

    This is so cool. Sad seeing these beautiful buses in such a state of disrepair. Wish they could be put back on the road. I loved seeing them as a kid.

  2. L.K. Member

    Sid, Thanks for sharing this . I remember this era of Greyhounds . Perhaps someone will spot this thread and dive in to rescue them?

  3. DonM

    Wow. Brings back memories. Never rode in one but remember them on the road. What a platform for an RV conversion if you had the $$$$$$$$$$.

    They certainly were trying to copy the lead of the railroads that had introduced Vista Dome passenger cars in the late 40’s.

  4. RollerD

    Thank you Mr Cannon for posting your thoughts and the pictures.

    Like 1
  5. jim s

    i too have some miles riding in these. great finds and buses. some bus conversion to RVs on ebay. wish someone would save them or use the parts to save others. not doing any good just sitting there. thanks

  6. Joe Howell

    Last Greyhound I rode was to my draft physical in 1971. The bus driver lived right down the street from me. Thanks for posting the pics and story.

  7. Dolphin Member

    If I thought I wasn’t spending enough cash on my car restos I’d just tackle a couple of these babies.

  8. mtshootist1

    Xanterra still has a fair number of old Greyhounds on the road in Yellowstone, but they are more the old two axle buses, and definitely not the scenic cruisers. A few years ago, the park managed to buy back about eight of the old 1930’s White buses, which were then rehabbed with modern running gear. We had to make them meet DOT regs for hauling passengers. I actually know a guy who is a bus fanatic, he collects and restores buses.

    Like 1
    • Sid Member

      You said “we” regarding the Yellowstone buses.
      Do you work at Yellowstone Park and are you involved with these old vehicles?

  9. Dr. D

    These are very cool, I always wanted to ride in one.

    I have occasionally seen examples of these for sale, in any condition ranging from rough looking project to rv conversion to fully restored original coach.

    Some of the rv conversions are sorta homemade hippie-bus types, some are top notch executive coaches which command top dollar and are probably best suited for rock stars on tour.

    Here is an example of one rv conversion which looks like it is solidly in the upper-middle of that pack — on the exterior it looks like a real Greyhound coach, on the inside it appears to have been converted to a very nice rv, seemingly done professionally to a high standard but not overly posh.

    I have no idea if this coach is still for sale, but the pics are nice. And if it is for sale, at $31,900 it seems like a real steal of a deal.

    http://www.busesonline.com/view-listing.cfm?listing_id=1288#

    • Sid Member

      Dr. D
      Thanks for sending that link.
      When I saw the buses in Oregon I mentioned to my wife how cool it would be to have a motor home conversion. I would buy the one in your link in a heart beat but the look my wife gave me told me I better think again.
      Sid

      Like 2
    • Alan (Michigan)

      Seriously cool! I have been thinking that one like the linked unit with a modern drive-train would be a top shelf ride.

  10. Mason

    I remember in 1970 – I was 8 years old when My father & I boarded this beautiful bus at the port authority bus terminal in NYC for a trip to Washington D.C.

    even as a child I thought this bus was special. didn’t get the upper tinted scenic window seats as it was popular. thanks for sharing the pictures. Mason

  11. Wayne Thomas

    What timing. Occasionally, one of these will find its way on EBAY and one did about 2 months ago or so. If you go to YouTube and search ScenicCruiser, you will see a guy going through a full tear down and restoration of one in addition to some other cool videos. Certainly, these make an interesting RV conversion.

  12. scott

    Back when people new how to behave & act like human beings compared to today’s disenchantment with life.

  13. mike

    great story..i remember them also…or you could get an Olds vista cruiser.

  14. Carl W French

    That one for $31,900 looks quite the deal considering what full sized RV’s go for.

  15. Sid Member

    No indication they were for sale but money talks

  16. Leo

    As a kid in the early 60’s travelled on those Greyhound buses from Montreal Canada to Norfolk Virginia,wow thanks for the trip back in time

  17. Tom Stewart

    My grandparents lived in Haines, so I remember the tiny town quite fondly. Too bad the buses weren’t around then (early to late 70s) or I would surely have used them as a playground.

  18. John R Briscoe

    Thanks for the story and photos. I remember one time seeing a caravan of three on the Turner Turnpike .Quite a sight!!!

  19. geomechs geomechs Member

    I applaud those who restore old buses, especially these old cruisers. While I never rode in one, I always liked the looks.

  20. fred

    Looks like the one for 31K had the parts that should be stainless (or aluminum) painted grey. I prefer the metal look.

  21. Tom McNally

    Nice work Sid! I own 2 Scenicruisers (one restored, other is prototype that plan to restore….both as original seated coaches). Not sure how far Haines is from your place, but I would GREATLY appreciate more info on these. I keep track of all surviving Scenics by serial number, location, and owner. I would love to update my roster if you would be so kind. The red,white and blue bus is still painted in the 1976 (Bi-centenial) Greyhound “Pepsi-scheme” as we call it. This bus (if you look close) has the frieght door at the right rear corner. These “Combo-cars” had a varying number of seats removed, a partition wall installed , and used to haul frieght in the rear. Lots of newspapers, parts, Xmas gifts ect. were hauled by Greyhound. They always had a “package express” business (as do they still today) but these were designed to haul much more freight than what could be stashed in lower baggage bins. About 100 Scenics were converted to “Combo cars” in the early 1970s. The fleet number on that bus looks like 0796 or 0798. The following is the Greyhound ownership history and former fleet numbers worn by that bus:

    0796 S/N 249 Southwestern Greyhound Lines S-119
    Central Southwestern Greyhound Lines 1408
    Eastern Greyhound lines 4593
    Western Greyhound Lines 0796

    0798 S/N 930 Eastern Greyhound Lines E5624
    Central Southwestern Greyhound Lines C-1245
    Reported scrapped at Blitz bus in Chicago in June 1977 (obviously if this is
    in fact 0798, this is incorrect)

    Serial number is stamped on the dash “builders plate” : should read: PD4501-???, Serial is also stamped inside a compartment below the driver’s window, towards back of compartment, beyond clutch pedal linkage, etc. If I had serial numbers for both these buses, I could relay ownership history )both Greyhound, and secondary private owners, or charter companies. The fleet number could also still be on the inside of the passenger entry door, or above the driver on inside of destination sign box (that would help too) More photos would be great too. By my count only 230 + or – survive in any condtion. Scenics set records for revenue miles and years in continuous service (20 years) Greatest bus ever made in my opinion….but I could be a little bias! Love em so much……wrote a book about Scenics: http://www.amazon.com/Greyhound-Scenicruiser-Tom-McNally/dp/1583883010/

    I am promoting a Second National antique Bus show at the awesome completely restored 1930s Greyhound Depot located in Blytheville, AR. (We had 63 antique coaches, including 8 Scenicruisers last year) email for more info.

    Thanks much!

    Like 1
    • Sid Member

      Tom
      Thanks for all the great information regarding Scenicruisers.
      Several people have asked the exact location and contact information of the owner.
      This will take a little detective work but should be quite easy.
      Google Earth to Haines Oregon and you easily should find the Haine’s Steakhouse.
      As I said in my original post this is a great and historic place to eat.
      From the steakhouse virtually walk one block to the north then one block to the east and you will be at the corner of 2nd street and Cole street feasting your eyes on two Scenicruisers.
      On Google Earth it looks like there might be a standard bus a little to the south that I might have missed.
      Check out that huge building at the corner.
      I looked in the window and it was packed full of old stuff that would make American Pickers drool.
      If you really want to contact them call the Steakhouse and ask them who owns the building and the buses.
      Sid

      • Tom McNally

        Thanks Sid. I will contact the steakhouse. Hopefully they don’t get a made rush of tire-kickers and assume these things are made of gold! Seen that happen too many times. Most of the time we are in compitition with the scrap man. Uninformed individuals assume that sine they are aluminum, they will bring good $ in scrap, and sometimes ask goofy prices for old buses. It would be nice to find them a good home for sure. (not mine…..4 antique buses is plenty!) Take care

    • Steve

      My grandfather drove for Greyhound until he suffered severe back injuries when a car rear ended his bus in 1962. He drove out of Clarksdale and Jackson, Mississippi and likely frequented the Blytheville, AR station for his routes.

      Tom, I would appreciate any information you could provide about the National Antique Bus Show in Blytheville as I’m sure some of my family in that area might want to attend to reminisce about my grandfather’s journeys.

      I’ve always loved the iconic Scenicruiser design and have often thought about the possibilities of an RV conversion. But I’m 45 and don’t foresee retiring for another 10 years or so, and it seems likely that the last few roadworthy examples will be at the end of their long lifespan by then.

  22. William Granger

    Great story Sid, I work for First group (Glasgow, Scotland) who owns Greyhound, it would be great to see these old buses restored back to their original condition, they must have been really special to travel on. Thanks

  23. Jeff Goldwasser

    I am on the board of the Bus Museum in Hershey PA. Perhaps they might want to sell one ? Maybe someone would want to let the museum display one for a period of time if its been restored. We have some beautiful old units on display.

    • Tom McNally

      Hi Jeff

      I heard a rumor that ABC bus donated their “restored” Scenicruiser to the MOBT recently? Or is it just on loan? Thanks

      Tom

  24. Jeff Goldwasser

    Tom,

    The unit is on long term loan to the museum. Are you a museum member ? I enjoy serving on the board and giving my input.

    Jeff

  25. Tom McNally

    Hi Jeff
    Hi Jeff

    The ABC Faribo Lines Scenic is a nice unit (PD4501-932). Dave Millhouser and John Oakman brought it up from Florida to the Amarillo, TX Scenicruiser gathering I organized in 2010. We had 10 Scenics at that event. I’m not a MOBT member. I have been to the “Spring Fling” at the museum once in about 2008. There are too many bus and old car hobby related organizations to afford belonging to all of them ! Take care

    Tom McNally

  26. Bill M

    With these busses sitting outside a huge building, I can’t help but ponder what might really be inside the building. I recently ended up with the contents of a 15,000 square foot farm/hardware/marine dealer that closed 40+ years ago, and it’s like Christmas morning every time I go in there & take things out! [No cars.]

  27. Paul

    Sid – may I use the two photos you took in my upcoming book?

    Paul

  28. Gordon Hermanson

    The Scienic Cruizer was the first Motor Coach I ever drove. Still my favorite. I don’t know if they are still there but there is a junk yard in Gila Bend, AZ. They have 4 or 5 of them in various staits.

  29. ron isenhath

    hello scenicruiser fans from michigan. also hello to sid for this article. i have 2 original scenicruisers a 1954 [#150] and a 1955 [#532] which are both alive and well. i dj for car shows in the summers with the 1954. also gave the quest band from england a ride on route 66 in 1998 from chicago to LA. im also a good friend of tom mcnally and fred raymond. these scenics are fun to drive . send a message anytime. thanks. ron isenhath eaton rapids michigan. vw busses are coooool too.

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