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Mystery Coachwork: 1965 Chevrolet C30 School Bus?

This 1965 Chevrolet C30 is said to be a former school bus that was owned by a one-room school in Washington state. While the color certainly lends to the theory, the two door configuration doesn’t seem very practical for getting passengers in and out. The photo of the body tag is a little bit blurry, but some internet research might shed some light on the actual purpose of the custom coachwork. The truck can be found here on Craigslist with an asking price of $8,000.  Currently located in Yakima, Washington, the seller states they believe it was originally built in Spokane and owned by a school in Addy, so it may have spent its entire life in Washington state. Thanks to Rocco B. for the tip on this great old bus! Let’s check out more.

The engine is a 292 cubic inch straight six mated to a 4-speed tranny. It features a rebuilt carburetor, one-wire alternator, and new belts and hoses. The current owner says it runs fantastic and the engine was supposedly rebuilt before they acquired it. It also has a new gas tank from a Suburban which should make the new owner fairly confident in the fuel system.

The interior has a 60/40 split bench seat from a 1998 Chevy. Unfortunately, the rear seats have been removed, so if the new owner wants this to be a family hauler, new seats will need to be added. There are curtains on the back barn-door windows, so perhaps someone started a camper conversion on it?

This same bus was offered for sale on Craigslist in January 2018 with an asking price of $4,900. Since then the owner has done some work to the styling of the side windows. Other than that, it’s hard to tell if the engine work was done before or after then, but the seat has been updated. I’m not sure if the work done since 2018 warrants such a large increase in price, but I guess that’s up to to the seller and buyer to figure out. What do you think of this one? What would you do with it if it was yours?


  1. Keith

    What would someone use this for? Maybe to convert it into a Hippie RV then drive it to the Black Rock Desert for the Burning Man festival? Who knows?

    Like 5
  2. Don H

    Short bus flashbacks 😢😭

    Like 7
  3. Spud

    The seller’s story is probably true (about it being a school bus) given that the company that made it specialized in making special-purpose school buses. Here’s a link for info about that place – http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/n/novelty/novelty.htm They apparently went out of business in the 80s.

    Also, entry to the school bus part was probably through the back doors, and the seats were to each side (probably single seats) of the center “aisle”. Not likely legal for actual school bus use in any US state nowadays, but kind of cool anyway.

    Like 14
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Based on the ribbing down the center of the rubber floor, likely that it had a long bench on each side, rather than seats which faced forward. The flattened tops of the wheel arches seem to also indicate that possibility.

      This is a cool unit, and unusual. As with many municipal/commercial vehicles, after being retired, this one may have been in a small business ownership situation. Luckily, it was spared the scrapyard route.

      Like 6
      • JimmyinTEXAS

        I’m betting the seats that are currently in the bus are newer and ingress/egress to the seating area was through the “passenger” door, and the seating arrangement was the typical school bus design and the rubber runner was down the high traffic center aisle.

        Like 0
    • Roy (WA)

      The original description says the front seats are not original, they are from a ’98 Chevy. The 1960-1966 Chevy/GMC Suburban/Carryall typically had a 65/35 split front seat, with the 65% being the driver’s side and center (adjustable) and the 35% passenger seat would flip forward to allow access to the rear seats.
      I bet this was a school bus from new, and the flip-forward passenger seat was deleted to allow more ready access to the rear seats for the kids. There are no inside release handles on these rear doors.

      Like 0
      • BR

        With all due respect Roy, there must be a release handle on at least one of the rear doors. Scroll down……


        Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        The link you provided is for modern School buses. The one here is old enough to be exempt, as the rules were not in effect when it was built.

        And interestingly enough, when I was in school in the 1950s, I remember these style buses NOT having interior door latches for what was, at the time, considered a valid reason; children could open the doors while the bus was in motion.

        Like 2
  4. John P

    That truck was originally an extended panel van-and the panel van roof was removed at the seam and placed atop the extension with the windows cut in by someone with decent skills. Kinda neat-probably never see another..

    Like 0
  5. Andrew T Gerns Member

    Looks like an adaptation of an ambulance conversion.

    Like 0
  6. mike b

    While it may or may not have been used as a school bus I would wager that it was designed for emergency type uses like ambulance or fire fighter transport.

    Like 6
    • urnuts

      That was my thought…. I can see it being an ambulance or forest fire response vehicle or similar. Perhaps THEN retrofitted to a bus? Hard to say, obviously.

      Like 0
  7. Jaza

    The fugly seats could be tossed, but those ridiculous new side windows have ruined it. I wouldn’t take it for free.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


      Look closely at the photos, and I think you will agree that the version with the black side windows is indeed a different vehicle. Note such things as the location of the fuel filler door. Even the license plates are different. Rust holes in the body panels are different.

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars

        @ Bill McCoskey, hate to disagreed with you my northern Virginia friend — the forum has already decided this is the same vehicle from the listing’s first photo to the end. The seller even states he’s saved the original side glass fixtures, repositioned the gas filler. Of course tags can and will be changed, when a person buys something in a private sale. I agree the newer glass looks out of place. May have somewhat modernized the truck…and given it more of a Nomad side profile.

        Like 1
  8. Ken

    The school district of the town where I grew up in eastern Washington (Prosser, 50 miles southeast of Yakima) had two of these small buses, one a Chevy similar to this, and the other a 1964-65 GMC. My aunt drove the Chevy for a couple of years to deliver kids from the wheat farms in the hills south of town.

    Like 11
  9. Ken Carney

    Gotta agree with Mike b. This truck started life as a fire service vehicle and
    then became a school bus after being sold off as government surplus. Either way, I could use this to haul Mom’s power
    chair around by installing a junior wheel
    chair lift at the rear doors to lift it into the
    truck that way. One thing’s for sure, you’ll
    be the only guy on your block that has one like it!

    Like 5
    • BR

      Weren’t most fire department vehicles of the day painted red? This has a yellow firewall. Been a bus since day one.

      Like 5
  10. Terry J

    Perhaps that is not the original front bench seat ?? I’ve seen such crew vehicles that had split front seats where the passenger side back folded forward, then the entire seat folded forward again against the dash, thus creating access to the back. :-) Terry J

    Like 1
    • JagManBill

      Agreed – I saw one similar that just didn’t have a passenger seat up front. Entry to the rear was via the passenger door and a center “duck” way (really cant say walkway) with long benches down both sides. Also – it had a cast “step” under the passenger door.

      Like 3
      • YourSoundMan


        A la Philippines jeepneys, of which I spent lots of time riding in to get around! The folks in my wife’s home town would put this machine to revenue use in a heartbeat!

        Like 0
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    While I love the pictures of the 65 Chevy C30 School Bus, there should’ve been more pics posted. Instead of repeating the same picture more than once, whoever posted should post one pic from every vantage point of the truck, inside of the bus, the cockpit, the seats where the students would sit, the engine compartment, etc.

    Like 1
  12. Del

    8 grand for this ?

    Try 1500

    Like 5
  13. BR

    It’s been a school bus from day one. Absent are any telltale signs it was anything else. If it was an emergency vehicle or ambulance it would have one of those humongous Leece-Neville alternators and the dash would be riddled with holes from microphone and radio brackets, just to name a few. The only missing thing is the fold up steps for the rear doors. Anyone ever see an ambulance with windows on the raised roof? And how about that yellow firewall?

    Like 6
  14. DougJ

    The top picture in this listing and the bottom are NOT the same ‘bus’. Note the different fuel filler locations as well as the first windows behind the front doors – the ones in the top picture are squared off while the bottom picture shows windows with an arc to them.

    Like 0
    • BR

      The owner stated that he had redone the windows, and the original windows go with it. He also stated that the fuel tank was changed from a later Suburban, and you can see where the forward filler door was filled in. Just sayin’.

      Like 2
      • DougJ

        I humbly stand corrected. That just proves to me that I have to read the WHOLE listing, not just breeze through it!

        Like 2
  15. Little_Cars

    @DougJ and @Terry J….are you two related? Read the listing. The front bench seat is NOT original as per the posting. It is from a ’98 Chevy. The posting also states that window work was done. Although, from the grainy pictures you can’t tell how well they were “upgraded.” And why? There is a hint that the gas door was moved if you look at the paint shade differences.

    This is still a huge metal hot box without air conditioning and some sort of flow-through ventilation. Cool find, though!

    Like 3
  16. chrlsful

    1 adult up front for rural school. Got out each stop brought back a step sitting in passenger aresa (beside him/her) & opened rear door 4 every kid.

    14 passengers wuz 1/2 the entire school population. Took 1.5 hrs from 1st p/u till last drop off. I remember cuz I wuz that kid !

    Like 4
    • Spud

      Thanks chrisful! That’s exactly what I was thinking.

      Now, one last thing to clear up…were there 2 long bench seats down each side in the back? In the first photo, it looks a bit like there may be a seat back (from one of the rear seats) visible behind the front seats. But I have to admit that the long bench seats someone here suggested make more sense.

      Like 1
  17. FJC

    Lots of rust showing, may indicate even more elsewhere!

    Like 1
  18. Bodyman68

    Ok this is a bus from day one , tag says 18 passenger . The seats were side by side as i seen this same bus in the 80s in a salvage yard . The flat spots on wheel house is for the seat clearance. The front seat was a single driver seat and passenger entry was open to let kids on/off. The bus is really cool and would make a great rv or toy hauler with total dependability. The price for condition um not so much maybe half is pushing it, but who knows they might get it .

    Like 1
    • Terry J

      Yup, in the last 55 years I’ve seen these myself, a couple in US Forest Service green. Worth how much? Easy, just look at the last 10 or 15 of these that have sold recently. Ha ha. :-) Terry J

      Like 0
  19. BronzeGiant

    It would have been worth more to me if the owner had left the original windows alone…..

    Like 1
  20. TimM

    Strangest bus I ever did see!!! Don’t know that I’ve ever seen one before today!! Thank you barn find for this one of a kind!!!

    Like 0
  21. Little Cars

    First photo of the Craigslist posting (truck in the garage) shows a pair of buckets seats, look like 1970 Camaro units. Glad this seller changed back to 60/40. Now, if he’d only taken a picture of the fold-forward seat frame we could then put the debate to rest.

    Like 1

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