Live Auctions

RV Conversion Candidate? 1951 International 25′ School Bus

I’ve recently become a local school bus driver so I couldn’t pass this one up, especially since its number, 267, is close to my bus number of 277. The seller doesn’t give any background or what this survivor school bus has been up to the past 71 years other than it was in Idaho and has been sitting for many years, but still runs. More on that later. It’s listed in the Spokane, Washington area here on craigslist for $3,000. Another big thank you to T.J. for sending us this interesting “Hop on the bus, Gus” tip.

According to, a quaker school in London, England in 1827 was the first to use a 25-passenger horse-drawn vehicle to transport their students to and from school. The website also shared that 1939 was an important year for school buses here in the States. “School Bus Yellow” was adopted as the official color along with the start of standardizing school bus construction. This 25-footer was part of International-Harvester’s versatile L Series redesign (which included everything from pickups to tractor trailers) that was introduced in the fall of 1949.

The bus is described by the seller as “original” including its School Bus Yellow paint and “has no heavy rust or rot.” Considering it’s probably been outside like the Tin Man for the longest of time, it’s actually in good survivor shape. I spotted a couple broken windows (which is a miracle as windows are always the first target to bust up on an old school bus) and many of the bus’s lights, including the roof-mounted front and rear red lights, are still there. The rear emergency door hasn’t gone missing but doesn’t have a door handle, and the seller claims the tires hold air but are very old.

Inside, the “it-ain’t-in-too-bad-of-shape-for-its-age” description continues. The mint green interior paint above the windows is so 1950s and is still shiny, but most of the original seats have been removed. The drivers area looks mostly there and the seller claims the manual entry door still works. It’s hard to tell the condition of the floors from the photos, but it looks okay.

Under the yellow hood, there’s good news and bad news. Someone at some time stole the bus’s radiator and carburetor, but a new carb has been ordered and when the seller put gas in the engine, it was said to have “started up instantly.” Based on an old ad I found online, I’m guessing it’s the Silver Diamond valve-in-head 296ci inline-six engine that was supposed to be a “practical combination of engine pep, power, and economy.”

Now comes the big question: how much would it cost to restore this 71-year-old old survivor school bus? The seller is pitching it as a potential candidate for an RV conversation because of its desirable 25′ length and solid condition. He also suggests that “it’s perfect for a Cummins Diesel swap.” What do you think? Any of you readers ever attempted this or know somebody who has? As they say, just about any vehicle is restorable if you have the time, energy, money, and ability to perform some of the restoration work yourself. Time will tell. But if it ever gets converted into an unconventional RV of some kind, I hope the next owner will show at least one episode of the old Partridge Family TV Show on the flatscreen. That only seems appropriate.


  1. Sam Shive

    Being a Ford Guy. Put some SUPER DUTY Running Gear And A Power Stroke Under It. Game On

    Like 1
  2. Rossseux

    Might be a cool camper or tiny house conversion. Also, have school busses always been that weird toothpaste green on the inside?

    Like 2
    • Steve H

      Yes, the older ones like this were green ( it would depend on what body it had, though ) When I started driving in 1980, we had some 1968 models that were green inside. By the time I quit in 2015 most had beige walls with brown seats.

      Like 2
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    It’s a touch heavier than most bus chassis of the day. It looks to me like an L-170. That’s a Blue Diamond 269 under the hood, which descended from the 250 CID BLD engine in 1940. Of course you can safely say that it got its real beginnings in the later 30s. The Blue Diamond morphed into the Black Diamond right around this time, with the first version, a 282 CID that powered the L-180 Series. The 269 was disontinued in favor of the 282 and a new (308) version came out in the R-Series in ’53. The 282 would remain in production into the 60s with the 308 soldiering on into the 70s. Quite an engine. Replaceable sleeves right from the beginning, it was designed to be rebuilt lots of times. Some engine parts a little hard to find nowadays but not impossible.

    Now for the rest of the truck. The bus body doesn’t really turn me on, as I rode a lot of miles over rough, dusty roads in a school bus and most of the memories are about as fond as receiving a wedgie in school, but the chassis does, and I’m partial to old Binders. It’s amazing how many parts are still readily available for the chassis. Lots of people restoring them and thus lots of parts. Buy it, fix it up into a personal RV or transporter for the swap meets. I’m sure there are a lot of fond memories that will replace the not-so-fond memories…

    Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Geo, you know something? I find your knowledge of IH’s fascinating, you’d certainly win a game show on IH trivia, Hmm, game show on IH trivia, think Hollywood might be interested? They’re known for taking a chance on crap like that. However, sadly, and I don’t mean to discourage you in any way, but anyone younger than 50 probably has no idea what you are talking about, or cares. Well, this old codger, who made their living with “hay balers”, sez,, you da’ man!!!
      I tend to agree, bus bodies don’t do anything for me either, although, I was a city boy, that walked uphill in the snow to school, and rarely rode a school bus, since there is no cab to speak of, like a fire engine, it’s use is pretty limited. To construct some sort of living arrangement with these, including mechanical updates, will be incredibly expensive. Someone will hook the front clip for a pickup restoration, and the rest will become a storage bin “out back”.
      Hope you are well, my friend. Some updates in life, I’ll write you soon.

      Like 8
  4. Rick

    I believe that the color is actually “national school bus chrome”.

    Like 4
  5. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Conversion? Absolutely….into a shed!

    Like 2
  6. Frank Sumatra

    An old school achieves a certain level of creepiness.

    Like 1
  7. Frank Sumatra

    An old school bus achieves a certain level of creepiness.

    Like 2
  8. butchb

    The wider front fenders of the 170 model would lend itself to using a later model frame and running gear, since the added fender width will allow for front wheels to still remain under the fenders.
    A First or Second gen Dodge Cummins 1 ton stretched to fit would give modern driving characteristics, that, and buckets of money will turn it into sweet little RV.

    Like 2
  9. RMac

    Seen a few old school busses 25 feet and shorter turned int party busses by limo companies to drive to and from proms, batchelor and bridesmaids parties and even wedding parties from church to reception cool old binder hope someone does something cool with it

    Like 3
  10. John Member

    A work truck for a plumber, carpenter. Put your power tools in it have a generator. Put the long stuff out the back door and cut it. Then drive it home at night.

    Like 3
  11. oldnash

    I believe this one has a Superior bus body. In the mid 50’s I rode on one exactly like this one except it was a Wayne bus body. Anyhow our driver was named Oliver and he often had difficulty finding the proper gear. I can still remember the older boys in the back yelling “Grind me a pound Ollie” after an unsuccessful shift attempt. Oh the memories.

    Like 1
  12. Jay McCarthy

    This a perfect start to make a toy hauler/camper

    Like 1
  13. AF

    Into the Wild

  14. RMac

    AF nice reference but that was an old city bus I believe not a school bus

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