Rare Short Bus: 1948 Dodge 2 Window School Bus

 

A vintage school bus has a certain allure to it that always grabs my attention. I always wonder who rode on it and where are those kids are today. Most people have a memorable school bus experience so maybe it’s a nostalgia thing.  There were some unique configurations of school buses back in the day and most of the major truck manufacturers got in on the action. This particular bus is a 2 window version with a Dodge chassis which is unique and the fact that it has survived intact all these years makes this a rare find. Check it out here on eBay in Lake Oswego, Oregon with a BIN of $9,500 or a starting bid of $7,450.

This bus is built on a Dodge B- Series truck chassis. The Dodge B-Series was built from 1948 until 1953 so if this bus is indeed a ’48 model that makes it a first-year model. The B-Series had some improvements over the previous generation. Dodge bragged about their new model in advertisements. Improvements like a tighter turning radius, propeller shaft guards and improved brakes gave “maximum protection” for the passengers. The seller does not give any information about which company did the bus conversion or what school district it was used by, but it does have California Black Plates.

This thing is definitely not pristine, its got its fair share of surface rust, dings, and dents but the seller does say the bus is free of major rust. Some of the original paint is still visible and you can still make out some of the writing on the rear door. The owner seems to be a collector of old school buses, short buses in particular and says that these are a rare find, I don’t ever remember seeing one of these so I can’t argue with that statement. The bus has not run in many years, no engine photos are provided but the engine should be a flathead inline 6 probably connected to a 3-speed transmission.

The interior is trashed but it’s all there, the classic green/gray interior paint is still visible. Unfortunately, most of the windows are either in bad shape or broken, replacements will have to be custom made because there can’t be many of those sitting on the shelf. This bus needs a total restoration, the question is what do you do with it? This would be a huge labor of love for someone to restore it to original condition, the cost of restoration would far exceed its value. The seller mentions a possible camper conversion or rat rod project, it’s just to far gone to preserve and the price is high considering the shipping cost involved with a truck like this. Let’s hope somebody saves it, what would you do?

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Comments

  1. TimS Member

    As one who qualified for the “”short bus” but never had to ride one, I’d like to resto-mod this with a Chrysler big block from a decade or so later and newer but not modern mechanicals otherwise, sort of a hot rod like one could’ve built when this bus left service.

    14
  2. Howard A

    A person that rode a “short school bus” in my time, was one that had special needs. As kids, we were so cruel ( mostly getting it from our fathers) and we’d make fun of that. If one of your buddies( or you) did something stupid, we’d say, “what, do you ride on a short school bus?” Funny how we’ve gone full circle with school buses. When this bus was new, it racked up a lot of miles in rural settings. Many kids were home schooled, and worked on farms and not many rode the bus. Then the baby boom, and school buses got bigger and bigger, and now, I see school buses and they are 2/3’s empty, and many rural buses are going back to “short school buses”. I lived in a big city, and never rode a school bus, except on field trips, and was a miserable experience. I hated it, but it did get us out of class. When raising my kids, they sometimes rode the bus, but we were on the end of the route, and while only 10 minutes from school, the bus picked them up 1st, and got home last, an hour on the bus, so we just took them to school.

    9
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Duh, what’s with people riding short buses being soft in the head? Don’t answer that. Yeah I rode the remains of a Binder S-150 that the owner had to repair every night so it could make another day. He put a rod through the side and switched out the bus for the remains of a ‘58 GMC. First order of business was to fabricate a special stick to brace between the dash and the shift lever to keep it from jumping out of gear. I lost more brain cells from the leaky exhaust system than I ever did riding bikes and drinking beer…

      3
  3. Doug Edwards

    $7450 Har har.

    8
  4. Chinga-Trailer

    This listing makes no sense. Says he is in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I can tell you for sure those photos weren’t taken in Lake Oswego! Maybe Canby, Hubbard or Woodburn, Oregon, but not Lake Oswego. His two other oddball buses are in Phoenix and Missouri – what is this guy, some sort of lister of stuff he doesn’t own??

    7
    • Dick Johnson

      Dang. And here I thought the aviation and yachting (boating) industries had the market cornered with “Barnum Brokers.”

      2
    • grant

      Ya I gotta ask, why you think this could be more towards farm country then Lake Oz? Cause that sure looks like Lake Oz to me. Also, I’ve seen this bus and yes, it’s in Lake Oswego.

      2
  5. Dusty Stalz

    About 20 yrs ago I had a 48 Dodge pu I got out of a neighbor field and a 79 Volare with a nice 318. Long story short the truck took that Volare clip very well and I wish I had this bus cuz I’d do it again lol.

    2
  6. Mike

    Could make a pretty cool camper like this one. Probably the same interior size as a short Sprinter van.

    21
    • Junior

      Zactly what I was thankin…

      1
  7. booya

    I don’t think kids could keep their fillings intact after riding in that thing. Dentist’s dream.

    5
  8. John C

    All the Dead Heads are probably having a déjà vu all over again, looking at this bus.

    But man oh man, a ton of time and money awaits the individual brave enough to tackle this.

    I couldn’t pay a nickel for it until I inspected it first.

    Could be fun. Could be great to drive. But definitely could be expensive to get there.

    I spent 20,000 miles on a school bus, 52 miles a day round trip.
    Good luck to whoever wants it badly enough.

    6
  9. John

    Apparently it has just sold. Oh well…. Seller says he’s a collector and has vehicles in a scattered in a few storage lots throughout country…..The others are pretty nice but this one was super sweet

    1
    • jdjonesdr

      Says ended due to an error in the listing. It may be back.

      1
  10. DrewP

    No major rust…as compared to the size of it.
    A small hole in a boat is still an issue.

    2
  11. Chip Lamb
  12. Andy Tanner

    Seat’s taken!

    2
  13. Bob Baird

    This bus would be a great project making it into a camper! But my most memorable experience riding the bus in junior high was when we had “Miss Clara” for our driver. I lovingly referred to her as “Evil Miss Clara.” She went right by the schedule. If it was a freezing winter day with snow on the ground and Miss Clara arrived at 8:20 and the official pickup time was 8:30, then Miss Clara would sit in that nice dry, warm bus for 10 minutes while we stood out in the cold. And promptly at 8:30, the door would open. Makes you appreciate every one else in the world in a way you never otherwise would have!

    3
    • Rusty

      I dreamed hard about one that was for sale in NW Ohio or extreme SE Michigan around 1981. It was this size, or perhaps had one more side window, and a Dodge chats from the same era. It had a poverty conversion into a hunting camper for deer season, and needed some body and mechanical work as well. I wanted to camp/live in it for a while. It’s probably a good thing that I came to my senses before forking overa few hundred dollars, as i didn’t have the tool, shop or know how to fix it back then. I still remember being impressed by how slow the steering was and that it wasn’t terribly hard to turn the wheel at low speeds. Didn’t realize how rare that bus was at the time, but this is the first I’ve seen like it since.

  14. Phat head

    These short buses make great campers,that you can park anywhere.
    We have over 100,000 miles on ours, people love it every where we go. You better like talking about it because there is always someone taking a pic when you get back.

    Ours was in worse shape than this one, replaced all the lower panels and fenders . I like a more modern chassis ours is a 93 dodge 3500 with a cummins, gets 25 miles to the gallon and can cruise at 70.

    7
    • Chebby Member

      Nice! Any interior pics?

  15. ctmphrs Member

    I admit I know next to nothing about busses. Can anyone tell me what makes this a 2window bus. Thanks

    1
    • Lance

      Thats because of the divided 2 piece front windshield. Other busses have a one piece windshield. Really a very vague descriptive term, since it gives no indication of length.

      1
    • Ross

      I have a couple of buses and as far as I know the last curved window is not counted, but I have been wrong before.

      These short buses make great campers that you can park anywhere. We have 100,000 miles on ours , you better like talking to people because there is always someone taking a pic when you get back.
      It started out worse than this one, the price on it is crazy, lots of work to do.
      I like a newer chassis , our 1957 chev is on a 93 dodge 3500 with a cummins. It cruises down the freeway and gets over 20 miles a gallon.

  16. James Martin

    He sold it for that kind of money? Wow! Found this one and it’s 4×4 for 600 guess better buy it.

    1
    • Steve

      …AND it apparently defies gravity!!!

      4
      • Mike

        I think it’s an ad from Australia.

        3
    • Frank M

      Your already upside down on this one, before you even pay for it. ;)

  17. Saul

    @ctmphrs I believe that means the front windshield is divided into two panes. I could be wrong. This has to be the shortest short bus I have ever seen! As my Deadhead friends have told me, good luck finding the proper radius tires for these split rim wheels if you want to stay true to the original profile of the truck in question.

    1
  18. David Miraglia

    always desirable for a bus industry pro like me.
    1. Static exhibit
    2. running restoration
    3. Camper
    all of the above will suite me

  19. John C

    I noticed a comment made at least once perhaps twice. You can park it anywhere you want. That is a bit of a generalization. Many of the really modern places with hookups etc have a maximum 10 year old restriction and many of the ones that don’t have a new millennium restriction of the year 2000.

    There no doubt many other place that will allow a 1948 Bus. But don’t be surprised if you get turned away. Just bringing some up to speed here.

    • grant

      But, why? As long as it has the proper sanitary/electrical hookups, what’s the issue?

      1
      • MaxW

        John, by ‘park anywhere’ I think they meant in any standard parking space. I’ve got an 88 E350 I hope to turn into an RV for the same reason: any bigger and I can’t get around downtowns.

        Grant, it’s just like zoning. If you’re the kind to buy a $250k RV, do you really want a ‘family’ of hippies next door in a schoolie?

  20. Matt steele

    I’m just glad I got to see it.. can’t buy a thing but love to see stuff like this

  21. John C

    Why, couldn’t you park your 1948 Bus in many parks?

    Because many parks/campgrounds apparently have visual standards. Aesthetic appeal.

    Some parks feel when there could be $1 million units parked there they don’t want to look over and see the likes of Fred Sanford/tobacco road.

    This is an assumption on my part but I do know there are restrictions. Pick up a phone and start calling and you will find out. Ask them yourself.

    Many parks do not allow units older than 10 years old.

    Many other parks have a cut off of the year 2000.

    So if you get turned away in 1948 bus those are the likely reasons. Then you will have to scout around for a location that will take you and your bus.

  22. Jay E.

    My biggest beef with school buses is that many folks I cant stand up in them, me included. That makes any project a non starter. But I do like the short bus look, especially John Forces.

  23. chad

    age limits R ridiculous.

    No wonder there’s a ‘newer’ app for the cellie that figures your location into ur request for local camping spot. It lays out spots that: 1) R official (state’n fed prks); 2) Good (private like the above); 3) acceptable (rd side spots that R OK but not fully sanctioned, yet still OK w/locals for an over nite).

  24. John C

    Well it’s all business, about profit and loss column. As investor you spend substantial amount of money to build open and spit shine some type of RV Park. The nicer it is the more you can charge.

    You and I, think those buses are cool. The owner of the RV Park may very well agree.

    But not all of his customers will agree as the think about their $3,000 month RV payment.

    Pure and simply it’s about the owners bottom line and not meant to upset classic Bus owners.

    I mean you would not want Randy Quaid from Christmas Vacation to pull up next to your MCI.

    “Hey Clark, look its Reba McEntire, next to us.”

    Is not something most want to hear.

    1

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