S’Cool Bus: 1950 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Bus

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Here’s something you don’t see every day, a 1950 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Bus! This funky human-hauler is just what you need to show up at a PTA meeting with. It’s listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $4,200 and even at that the reserve won’t be met. This is being relisted to a deadbeat bidder so let’s play nice out there. Speaking of nice, this cool custom is in the nice city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thanks to Peter R for tracking down this cool custom.

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Is this is, or is this ain’t a cool custom bus?! I vote for the former. The body looks pretty good, in general, but the seller mentions that there is some rust and it’ll need bodywork. You probably already know that just from your own experience with 1950s trucks. And, this really was a bus at one time! Wow, have times, and standards, changed over the decades. Here’s one that someone turned into a taxi, talk about nice work! This bus has a long, long way to go to be that nice again.

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I could see someone doing a NAPCO 4×4 drivetrain resto-mod on this one, turning it into the coolest $150,000 Chevy custom bus of all time. And, then selling it for $35,000.. which is often the case with restorations. Could you imagine driving this up to a school? A school with actual kids in it?! Parents would run screaming and you’d be surrounded by flashing lights quicker than you downed a fistful of paste in first grade. I believe that this was originally a 3106 Suburban, but someone will know for sure.

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The interior photos aren’t the best, but wow, look at that wiring! At least the dash isn’t cracked. Just kidding, it’s metal, of course. It has a custom shifter between two custom bucket seats. I hope that the next owner will be able to detangle those wires, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a mess like that. They have a nice start on the custom gauges but have I mentioned how scary that wiring looks? There aren’t any seats in the rear so you’ll have a full, top-dollar restoration on your hands here, including finding seats or re-configuring the whole thing into something different than a van. Or, maybe restoring it back to being a “normal” Suburban again?

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Hey, that’s not a 1950 Chevrolet 3100 truck engine, what’s going on here?! The seller mentions that this is a 350 but that’s it. Those are three magic numbers so any parts that you may need can be easily found and installed, and it looks like AC is even involved, which is nice. They mention that it runs, but that’s it, there isn’t much info on this 3100. I can’t imagine what the builder was thinking here with that tangle of wires and everything else. Maybe they just ran out of time, money, and interest. It will be a lot of work to finish this one, do you think you’re up to the challenge? How would you finish this custom bus?

 

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Comments

  1. Bobsmyuncle

    Looks to be on a more modern chassis though the one photo doesn’t help me figure it out.

    The steering column should make it obvious to someone in-the-know.

    So many people are afraid of automotive electronics. It’s not a big deal if you just learn some basics. Especially in this case with nothing but lights, a horn, and some gauges.

  2. Terry J

    crum·my
    2. an old or converted truck used to transport loggers to and from work.

    In the Pacific NW these were usually called a Crummy. Above is a dictionary excerpt. I had 2 of these 3100 window panels at the same time circa 1972. One was parts, the other was very nice with a stock 235/4 speed granny. I drove it everywhere. In the winter I would pop out the window from the drivers side back door and put in a piece of tin in place of the glass. Then on a pad, I put a little sheet metal wood stove strapped down with a light chain, and the 3″ stovepipe thro that window. A couple of 6″ 2×4 ends or sticks would get it warm as toast in there in the freezing cold Central Oregon (Bend) winters when I was working outside nearby. :-) Terry J

  3. Scot Douglas

    I’d love that thing – wirenuts and all!

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    The vast majority of the 1/2 ton buses were merely Suburbans that were modified with the passenger’s side door that was opened by the driver. There were still a bunch of similar units running the short routes out west when I was a kid but most were built on 1-ton chassis. I see that someone installed a newer rear axle under the back; likely the same donor that supplied the motor and transmission. While old fogies like myself would be completely content with the 216 Stovie I don’t blame someone for putting in an SBC. If I felt like I needed more power, I’d have just gone to a bigger six. As far as the body is concerned, I’d just convert it back to the original Burb and enjoy it as such. I wish the vendor luck….

    • waynard

      I had a 1946 1-ton Chev school bus based on a Suburban, that I drove regularly. Ferried kids from all the local farms and ranches in New Mexico to school in the late 40’s. No 3rd door. Kids went in and out through the rear barn doors and sat on 2 x 12’s that ran the length of the rear.

      I put in a 350 / 700r4, etc. etc. Drove like a dream with IFS, power steering and brakes and AC. Sold it just a couple weeks ago for .35 on the dollar. It’s almost always a loss on projects, you do it cuz you love it, not for the profit.

      Happy to take a look at this nightmare for anyone. I know where this is and its close by.

  5. Jeffro

    As I was accused of riding the short bus in my younger days…I’m sure as hell not going to drive one.

  6. George

    That would be the perfect tow truck for my vintage MGB. It would take 3 years race budget to prepare it for towing and camping at the track. Such items make fun dreams

  7. Tre Deuce

    ‘Custom Bus’ This just a Chevy Suburban.

    Owned a 51′ and it was a great rig. I used hood pins for the rear seat attachment to facilitate quick removal for cargo carry, or camping. With its compound 1st gear and high dif ratio it would climb just about anything, and when it couldn’t the winch would get by the rough/steep parts. I ran a 302 GMC with a 3/4 cam/split exhaust manifold with dual exhaust, and a 2GC carb on an adapter to the stock intake with a shaved head for a bit more compression.. Ran real good. and had that classic split manifold exhaust sound.

    • Dave Wright

      That 302 GMC is a great engine. One of the forgotten engines that were favored by hotrodders staying with a 6 cyl engine. They would supprise a lot of small block V8’s

      • Tre Deuce

        Yes, Dave, a great engine that ‘inliners’ sought, but were hard to come by in the day. Most settled for 292″. Besides the Suburban, I ran one in a 57′ Chevy wagon with 4-barrel intake, cam, headers and a 4-speed. It was a mid 15-sec. car after I added HEI ignition.

        After running flat head Ford V8’s for a time, I was inspired to run a Jimmy Six by a locally famous early fifties Chevy coupe called the ‘Little Brown Jug’, that was an NHRA record holder running a Jimmy Six. I later moved onto Ford 300″ sixes, even adapting, some what successfully, a 300″ to run VW type ‘3’ Fuel injection and running that in a 60′ Falcon gasser. Fun times before moving onto seriously powerful OHV V8’s like 440’s, BB Chevys and now LS engines.

        Of note, when Ford added F.I. to the 300″ six in 1987, I bought a new F150 4-WD with that engine. Turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but it did have good power.

      • Dave Wright

        I like the 292 a lot. Once bought 500 new short blocks from the Army in Germany, I didn’t have room to store them so had to get them sold before they had to be moved. Sold them to a big rebuilder in the Midwest…….made nearly 5,000 clear, big bucks for an E4 in 1976. I never could warm up to an engine with a cast in intake manifold like the 250’s. The 302’s were used in early 50’s GMC Duce and a half trucks, they came with Hydromatics……..even then they were trying to simplify driving for recruits. I am sure the vast majority of them came from the Military. I have seen many crated engines sell in surplus, they are probably dried up these days.

  8. Ck

    Would make a kool limo/party bus I guess.

  9. JCW Jr.

    Make a pick up out of it. A lot of work but would be a kool truck when done.

  10. Howard A Member

    This, my friends, was the “activity bus”. I bet many a student at the JFK Jr. H.S. wore a smile when the “activity bus” showed up. “Dude, we’re getting out of class, who cares where.” Be nice, I’ll try, but ,,,I’m sorry, what a mess. I don’t think it’s a late model chassis, and someone clearly cobbled a late model steering column ( and steering box, I hope) in. And that fan is a little close. One good bump and the radiator will be sent to the promised land. Years ago, we used to tease kids that showed up on a “short school bus”. Most the time they were mentally challenged. Man, we were cruel. With this, somebody tried, just not sure what they were trying to do.

  11. Brad C

    My suggestion comes in two words: Tow. Vehicle.
    Clean this up, stick a 5.3 LS under the hood, throw a class 4 hitch with brake controller and hitch up your shiny old Spartan or Airstream from the early 50s. This is a cool Burb.

    • Dave Wright

      We had a 5.3 in a 1/2 ton pickup……..I liked it a lot, got tremendous mileage, but you could feel a 500 lb load in the bed. Wonderful for driving but not much for towing. My brother drives hundreds of vehicles a year……he just bought a Danali specificly to tow his boat so he could get the 6.2 engine. He didn’t like the way the smaller engines towed. I am spoiled with my Duramax

      • Tre Deuce

        For a HD pick-up, it is hard to beat the Duramax/Allison combo.

  12. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this Chevy was a no-sale at $4,450.

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