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Running Late: 1951 GM “Old-Look” Bus

Hey, does the number 11 still stop here? Noooo, not any longer, the old 11 has seen better days and its time as a hauler are long over. Looking for its next trick? That appears to be the case as this 1951 GM transit bus, claimed to be a TGH 2708 (more on that to follow), is now sitting forlornly in a junkyard hoping for a new lease on life. Located in New London, Minnesota, this one-time people mover is available, here on craigslist for $3,800.

I’m no stranger to riding an old hulk like this. Built between 1940 and 1969, these “Old-Look” buses continued in service way beyond their freshness date. Smelly, slow, dirty, hot in summer/cold in winter, loud, uncomfortable, and rough riding, these were transportation for the masses. At least the ones in my hometown, back in the day, were inexpensive to ride. They served a singular purpose but then that becomes the conundrum once its civic responsibilities have expired. What in the world do you do with something this size? By and large, it seems scrapyard fodder would be the next stop.

No longer powered, the seller refers to this bus as a TGH-2708 T (Transit Bus) G (Gasoline) H (Hydraulic transmission) 27 (25 feet in length) 08 (series). The missing engine is referred to as a GM 6-71, which is a six-cylinder diesel engine, so that doesn’t line up with the given model description (G). Considering that the listing claims an overall length of 40 ft, that would translate into a  TDH-5108 according to GM’s bus decode legend. But being without self-motivation any longer, it really doesn’t matter.

The interior takes me back – it’s instantly familiar with its roof suspended handgrip bars and old-style incandescent lamps. Even the pull cord for signaling a rider’s stop is still in place. This example looks to have taken a post transit detour and has seen service doing the unknown as evidenced by the long workbench-like surfaces which traverse either side of the interior. It’s interesting to see that the old rock-hard seats are still in place and serving as bench supports.

So…what would you do with this thing? The seller makes a brief mention of, “could vend from 2 sides” so you can see where his thought lies. Added is, “very rare extra wide body and high roof“. I have gotta say, I don’t see it, it looks like one of the standard many that I rode from age 12 to way beyond (too far beyond) that young point in my life. He also mentions that he moved it with just a towbar but he’ll get it towed to the next owner’s preferred destination for $4.75 per mile. I can come up with all kinds of suggested uses for a hulk like this but I have to keep this post PG rated and don’t want to be nonsensical. So with those guidelines in place, what’s your suggestion?


  1. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    $4.75 a MILE,,Good grief, and when I had my own truck, I thought $1.00 a mile was good money,,,hmm,,nah, I left THAT business behind just in time(late 90’s). I think these are referred to as the “Rosa Parks” buses. Milwaukee was slow to change over to the “New Look” buses in 1959, and this style, I read, was discontinued, except for much smaller units made until 1969. I vaguely remember riding in these as a kid well into the 60’s. Some were pretty tired, and the “New Look” ones seemed so fresh. Jim accurately mentions the pull cord to indicate you wanted to get off at the next stop. A buzzer, I think. If you weren’t paying attention, and no one waiting on the curb, the bus wouldn’t stop. I even remember, the bus driver calling out the cross streets and you always requested a “transfer”. I think the fare, like .25 cents, was good for all day, and you could ride any bus in town.
    This is just storage on wheels, as many as were made, there has to be a field full. And no “Old Look” bus post would be complete without mention of our favorite bus driver,,,Ralph Kramden,,,RIGHT TO THE MOON, ALICE!!!

    Like 18
    • Avatar photo Dave

      Oh, when I look at this I think of how Pittsburgh was 60 years ago, when these buses had to jockey with the electric streetcars that were still in service.
      Going downtown for Christmas shopping, seeing Santa…asking Mom how he got to Horne’s before us when we just saw him at Kauffman’s.
      Having lunch at Raywell’s…the best hamburger in the world.
      All the steel mills running, everyone had jobs and money. Sure, the snow got dirty after a few days but so what?
      Thanks for putting this on here and jogging my Christmas memory.

      Like 26
  2. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    Looks like it stepped out of a Bosch novel, and was used as a migrant worker bunkhouse…probably a little too long to keep de-powered and make into a fifth wheel trailer, pulling backwards?

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo Jay E. Member

      A Bosch Novel? Can’t figure out the connection.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

        Michael Connolly has a bus used to house shell buyers of opioids living in squalor in a tent/bus camp with benches instead of or on top of the seats. Harry infiltrates to break the cartel. An enjoyable read or streaming watch.

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff

        Good catch! I recommend streaming the episodes. I can’t remember what Bosch season it is, but it is a memorable series of episodes.


        Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Harvey Member

    May have been used as greenhouse:-)

    Like 7
  4. Avatar photo Rodney - GSM

    Is it still good for throwing people under it?

    Like 30
    • Avatar photo Dave

      As long as rolling without gravity isn’t part of the equation, then yes.

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Stan

    Looks a long 27′ I thought most transit buses were right on the 40′ mark ?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo wcshook

      They came in different lengths. 40′ long was the max in the old looks. A couple series were 102″ wide, but most were 96″ wide. I wish a picture of the builders plate, which should be on the right side as you come on board. It would be TGH, TDH or end with a TDM. T-transit, G-gasoline, H-hydromatic (automatic), or M-manual.

      Like 1
  6. Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever

    Tiny Home potential…

    Or maybe a chicken coop.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever

      No edit feature right now.

      What really surprises me about this bus is that the glass is so completely intact. I can’t be the only one to think that fact is unusual.

      Like 7
  7. Avatar photo Mike

    Motor gone and in reasonably good shape plus it’s super sized for more room. Gut it and turn it into a tiny home. Restore the driver’s area to keep its history. Save two of the seats, reposition them to face each other with a table in the middle for a dining space. Plenty of space on top for solar and the missing back end could be converted to a garage space. $7k+ to my property, so probably $12k all in pre-conversion. Could sell one of extra cars to finance the deal. Um, why am I talking myself into this? Stop it, Mike

    Like 14
    • Avatar photo Richard Adams

      Go for it Mike, you go for it…
      The joy of restoring it and enjoying it without the hazzles of making it drivable and reliable.
      Now to obtain the view to go with it.

      Like 3
  8. Avatar photo Walt Beham

    The New York City Transit System puts several restored buses of this type into service every holiday season. It’s been a long standing tradition.

    Like 7
  9. Avatar photo Troy

    $3,800 purchase price $6,051 to deliver using their mileage charge and probably divorce papers served when this thing came down the driveway.
    Honestly if you have the right property and skills to do it this thing could make a cool little hotel like thing to rent out on airb&b or those other sites that do this kind of thing

    Like 7
  10. Avatar photo bone

    junkyards kept buses around for storage . this may have had radiators all stacked up in here , or things like starters and alternators . The yard I worked at in the early 80s had old 50s trailer truck trailers with wooden steps to get in them . some had small items, but several had transmissions- they were fun to find then try to get them out out !

    Like 5
  11. Avatar photo Bil Hall

    I recall these buses well from my younger days. Back in the day there where city and suburban bus companies. The suburban line had buses like this one, They were well worn and the old Detroit’s smoked so bad you could behind one if you followed to close you die from inhaling their exhaust.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Steven Olsen

    This is definitely a TDH-5105. It’s a 40 foot long, 102 inches wide, big city, transit bus.

    Like 4
  13. Avatar photo BR

    This example is either the 35′ or 40′ model, and depending, was powered by either a 4-71 or 6-71 engine. In the mid ’60’s I drove a 28′ ‘old look” school bus that was powered by a GM I-302 gas engine with a four speed Hydra-Matic transmission. Cool bus to drive.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo wcshook

      They came in different lengths. 40′ long was the max in the old looks. A couple series were 102″ wide, but most were 96″ wide. I wish a picture of the builders plate, which should be on the right side as you come on board. It would be TGH, TDH or end with a TDM. T-transit, G-gasoline, H-hydromatic (automatic), or M-manual.

      Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Kenn

    Wish it was closer. I’ld power it and take to flea roasts and ox markets.

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo wcshook

    This coach would have come with the 6-71. The 4-71 was in the shorter buses like the 28′- 32′. The 4 cylinder would have been way underpowered for this bus.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo John Bellmore

    If anyone is seriously interested, I have a power unit and 4 speed yellow coach transmission for it. 6-71, needs head overhauled has cracked injector rockers, blown head gasket. It will still start, but runs on 4 cylinders and push water out radiator. Gutted and being used for storage at bodyshop in Central Florida.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Ben Kleschinsky

      John, you wouldn’t happen to still have this would you?

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo John D Bellmore

        Ben I think it is still available. The body shop where it is at is for sale. I am fairly sure that they would like you to take the whole coach if you were to take major parts. It is at Orange City Collision in DeBary FLA. CJ DeTaranto is the owner.

        Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Charles F Seaton

    The bus is a GM TDH 5105 . Forty feet long and 102 inches wide.

    Like 1

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