Serious School Bus: Cummins-Powered 1963 Dodge Power Wagon

For over 30 years, Dodge produced the Power Wagon, which was a series of four-wheel-drive trucks derived from the company’s military vehicles. Various companies offered conversions transforming the Power Wagon into stake body trucks, firetrucks, or even school buses. Of those conversions, this 1963 Dodge Power Wagon School Bus that’s available here on eBay is a neat example that integrates plenty of modern features, such as a newer chassis and drivetrain.

This Dodge is available in Kaukauna, Wisconsin with a clean title. The seller does not specify who converted this Power Wagon into a school bus, but they do mention that it’s a solid driver with various road trips under its belt. Inside the cabin, you’ll find 8 bus seats, and they suggest that it could make a great party bus or family hauler.

While it’s impressive to see a rare vehicle such as this, its drivetrain is arguably the selling point – this bus utilizes a 24-valve Cummins turbocharged 6-cylinder diesel engine to power all four wheels, and it rides on a 2001 Dodge Ram 3500 chassis. Both the engine and the automatic transmission were rebuilt, and the bus benefits from modern upgrades including a water-to-air intercooler system and a radiator with electric fan.

Additionally, this bus features rugged 37-inch Goodyear MT/R tires and air suspension in the rear for additional comfort and capability. The seller claims that it achieves a fuel efficiency rating of 18 miles per gallon during highway driving, and they have personally added 3,500 trouble-free miles to the bus since the project’s completion.

At the time of publication, bidding is at $10,000 with the reserve not met, though there is also a Buy it Now price of $35,000. The seller notes that the next owner can “get in and drive this beast anywhere” – would you be the next person to take this unique bus on some adventures?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    “Don’t worry, ma’am, we’ll get your boy to school”. I think it could be on it’s way to being a neat AWD motorhome, keeping it a passenger vehicle probably not the best. And I’d have duals on the back. As is, a limited following.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      If you live in Red Lodge, and school is in Cooke City, then yes, this is the right tool for the job!

      Like 2
  2. Stangalang

    Looks a little awkward but I like it

    Like 2
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    The builder couldn’t do a lot better with the choice of engine although the 24V Cummins does have its problems. Namely the VP44 injection pump. The first thing I would do is to get a conversion kit to change it to the P7100 inline variety and get rid of all the computer stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the electronic controls on this are pretty basic and reliable. Get an interruption of the fuel supply from the tank and you just deep-fried the injection pump. That P7100 can push out enough fuel to completely melt #5 and #6 pistons out of their cylinders, not to mention lowering the safe altitude limit of the turbo to an altitude of Death Valley before it over speeds and explodes like a grenade.
    Water to Air Intercooler? I must not have been paying attention when they were introducing us to Aftercoolers/intercoolers 45+ years ago. I knew of JWAC (jacket water aftercoolers) and AAAC (Air to Air Aftercoolers, which Dodge used from’91 onwards). Of course if you’re into competition pulling you can install a DIAC (dry ice) to really get that intake air temperature down.
    OK, another cup and I’ll be at my target heart rate for the day. I like this unit. I don’t know what I would do with it but I have no doubt that it is the only one of its kind. Maybe it’s a good thing I DON’T win the Power Ball…

    Like 10
  4. Stangalang

    Agreed Geo..but I’ve always been more partial to the 12 valve Cummins and the 7.3 Ford. Everyone has their favorites though

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      That 12V Cummins 5.9 is about as close to indestructible as it can get. About the only thing I would compare it with as far as handling punishment would be the Mack END(T) 672 and the E6/E7. They were like the Walking Dead; they wouldn’t stop until you shot them. However, I’ve seen them all reach their limit and beyond. Some videos of those (eg. Tractor Bang) on YouTube where they have peeled the engine open like a banana.
      The 7.3 Power Stroke is another engine that could really take it. Unfortunately, Emissions put an end to that and the somewhat anemic 6.0 and 6.4 Powerjoke replaced it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIbpiihHQ-g

      Like 1
      • Chunk

        350 HP and 650 ft/lb out of the 6.4 is a good bit better than the 7.3’s 210/425. The 6.4 might be an unreliable hunk of junk, but it ain’t ANEMIC.

        Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I’ve seen the figures countless times. Over the years we saw hundreds of 7.3s, 6.0s, 6.4s, and 6.7s come through the shop. I saw far more satisfied customers with 7.3 Power Strokes than 6.0 and 6.4s combined. Anyone who traded their 7.3 for a 6.4 was disappointed. The 6.7 was Ford’s chance at redemption. Mechanically, I saw some rocker arm failures on 7.3s, whereas the 6.0 and 6.4 appeared to be designed to keep the service departments busy, with head gaskets, heads and EGRs, just to mention a few. You can’t blame Ford; it did its best but the EPA hamstrung it and Navistar.

        Like 3
  5. Kurt

    What an RV this would make.

    Like 5
  6. Charlie

    This is probably a dumb question, but if this has a newer chassis, a newer drivetrain, and a custom body, then what part is the Power Wagon?

    Like 9
    • Tom Bell

      Yup, good question–the cab sheetmetal.

      Like 5
  7. Lance Nord

    One piece of the puzzle if I ever won the lottery. I would use this as the “people mover” on my pheasant hunting ranch in South Dakota. It would hold a lot of hunters and dogs. (sigh) Another unfulfilled dream…

    Like 1
  8. Robert White

    Have FUN at the Gas Station, sucker!

    $35k buy it NOW!!!!

    P.S. There is a Greater Fool born every minute. P.T. Barnum had it all wrong. W.C. Fields said ‘Never give a sucker an even break’.

    Cha-ching!

    Bob

    Like 1
  9. pwtiger

    This is ” To Cool For School”, Leave a couple of seats in the front then build a kitchen and bath maybe some bunkbeds then head off into the wild. I would raise the back a few inches and put on some 44″ G rated tires, a winch and a bunch of bright lights and never look back…

    Like 2
  10. TimM

    Coolest bus I ever did see!!! Thank you geomechs for the lesson on the Cummings diesel!! I have 2 -7.3 power strokes one in my daily driver 99 F-350 and one in my 02 F-550 dump truck!! I love them and they are very reliable!!!

  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Now there’s something you don’t see very often. An all weather school bus. And Cummins diesel powered to boot? Oh my!

  12. Car Nut Tacoma

    My only serious problem with this is that there are only five pics of the bus.

  13. Kevin in Iowa

    The facts that the seller has provided only 5 pictures out of at least 24 allowed in the vehicle category and lack of a proper and well written description covering every aspect of the vehicle should have any potential buyer very concerned. “well written” meaning their grammar is atrocious. I view the person as having a somewhat low IQ. However, many skilled mechanics aren’t concerned with their writing skills and attention to detail. I personally know of several with that handicap. IMO, at least 24 pictures and a very detailed description is the ONLY way to properly portray their vehicle. Otherwise, steer clear as this seller to me, is hiding something important. eBay sellers (like me) are held to a much higher standard than any other venue.

    Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. I don’t care if it’s Craigslist or Ebay, etc., the more pics, the better. Including the Cummins diesel engine. I also appreciate proper spelling as well as attention to detail. :)

      Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      You think CL is bad, FB ads are even worse.

      Like 3
      • Car Nut Tacoma

        Tell me about it. I’ve seen ads on Facebook that only show one or two pics of a car. I’m like “Come on! What’s wrong with showing more of the car?! People want more pics of the vehicle to see what details of the car, patina and all.”

        Like 2
  14. BR

    Looks stupid without duals on the rear. Still needs legal lights on the rear.
    But on a positive note, at least it didn’t go to the crusher.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I have to agree. Most school buses I’ve seen have a duelly rear axle.

      Like 1
  15. A Kirk

    That body style of Power Wagon will accept a 4bt Cummins however, a 6bt requires cutting a hole in the firewall to make room for the engine. Unless the cowling has been stretched in some fashion the interior will resemble a cab over truck. It’s a shame there are no pictures of the dash to show how this was pulled off.

    Like 1
  16. Kevin in Iowa

    A friend had a 1944 Chevy Wayne body 5 window bus stored out in my ‘back forty’ for decades. He had mounted a SBC w/400 turbo and two new front tires. It sat so long that the engine stuck. He wasn’t going to finish the project and told me to sell it for uh, scrap. Fast forward, I had watched a YouTube video of a guy near MSP, MN showing a ’37 Chevy bus he was selling. On a whim I contacted him about our bus and we worked out a deal. Preparing it for his driver was NOT easy or fun. I told him that most of the weight of course, was in the back so the trailer axles needed to be behind the buses rear axle. Regarding the driver……the buyer used a service that allows individuals to bid hauling jobs. So, the lowest bid wins. Ugh! The guy shows up driving a ’77 Chevy 3/4 ton 4×4 pulling guess what? A too small trailer! I could have rented the same in town and hauled it myself but, NOT with that size trailer! I explained the situation, too light at the hitch and what could/would happen. He said, load it. Pushed it on with my antique 25 HP skid loader, just about too much…..but got it on. The tongue rose at least 18″. I’m freaking out and just shaking my head. Oh yeah, the guy said he had back surgery a week ago so I had to chain it down AND move all the parts to the front, 3 extra wheels with rotten tires, hood, grille, bumper, etc. I had kept the 400 trans. It seemed to help a little. Note, the bus had no windows so would be a huge (billowed sail?) drag for 300 miles. He left right after sunset and I actually prayed for a safe trip. It arrived OK 7 hours later. Not bad. The buyer it turns out, is a very talented 24 year old rod builder. Mostly rat rods, mostly those God awful diesel smokers and has brought 1 or 2 to SEMA for several years. We’ve become Facebook friends, me mainly to keep tabs on the bus if he ever gets to it. I must say he’s very talented and I’m not easily impressed.

    Like 2
    • Kevin in Iowa

      Well he, Tinman 2 Kustoms, Luke Merrill hasn’t started on it yet but I hope he decides to keep it and either restore it or modify into something neat. It was 4 years ago….time these days seems to fly by, that he got it. He made this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1UaLOwOr34

      I just commented on the video, 52ponybike.

      Like 1
  17. Red Riley

    So it’s not a converted Power Wagon. It’s a converted Dodge ram 3500 with a Cummins and a newer bus body. So it’s not a Power Wagon. Just has a Power Wagon front clip on it.

    Like 1
  18. Bill McCoskey

    I look a that first step at the front folding doors, and wonder how long it would take for an elementary school student to make it on board!

    Like 2
  19. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Nov 20, 2019 , 10:58AM
    Winning bid:
    US $10,325.00 [ 3 bids ]

  20. Stevieg

    I can find no practical use for this vehicle, other than to confirm that I ride the short bus sometimes lol (I might even lick the glass lol), but I love this contraption! I can’t afford it (thank God lol) & would have no place to put it, but I would be that fool that the old saying “a fool & his money are soon parted”, or whatever it is lol. Good thing I am broke!

    And for the record, I have not been drinking yet tonight lol.

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