View Full Version : ever seen a school bus as a car hauler?

12-17-2005, 04:37 AM
just wondering, as i have found a 66 pass. school bus for under a grand, i need a car hauler, but i do not have the funds for a nice truck and trailer...

i have seen pictures of school buses converted into all kinds of stuff, why not a race car hauler/camper?

have you seen this before? input?

12-17-2005, 09:49 AM
Mike Vansteenburg had one years ago here in Florida...was a pretty cool setup...

12-17-2005, 10:31 AM
lots of space however the floor height is about 36" so you need lots of ramp. they don't tend to have highway gears and the typical chevy 350 crate motor they often come with is not much for a rig that big on the highway.

12-17-2005, 11:15 AM
All the time--in all kinds of motorsports activities.

(They make good figure 8 race vehicles too!)

12-17-2005, 01:14 PM
There is a guy over in Oklahoma-Kansas who has one. Seeing his narrow, 20' long homemade ramps to get up to the floor level freaks me out. Figure the angle your car needs for clearance and see how long you would need.

Speed Raycer
12-17-2005, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by bldn10@Dec 17 2005, 12:14 PM
There is a guy over in Oklahoma-Kansas who has one. Seeing his narrow, 20' long homemade ramps to get up to the floor level freaks me out. Figure the angle your car needs for clearance and see how long you would need.


I saw that one at the first race I ever attended. Definitely left an impression.

12-17-2005, 08:04 PM
I looked into doing this. In Pennsylvania it would have to be registered as a truck beacause the car is considered cargo. Registration for a truck is something like $400 a year verses $90 for a RV.You would also need a CDL if it has more than 15 seats.

12-17-2005, 08:17 PM
get out of PA. in Mass you can call it a camper. my teamate uses a boxtruck with camper plate. he was told it needed a bed and a portapotty to be a camper.

12-17-2005, 10:29 PM
Better yet, Maine doesn't care if it has wings...they'll send you a plate! And you don't have to move...or even own or rent property there.

12-19-2005, 02:39 AM
I've known two guys that built them. One was huge, and he used it as a camper/race car hauler. Had a stove, 'fridge, beds, etc. Took him years to build. Other one was very well done, but shorter and only carried his tools, spares, and race car. So every evening, he had to drive the beast to eat and go to the motel. Both were purchased cheap, were worn out, ate gas like a starved hog in a corn field, and took forever to build to a safe and funtional level. Each one had to have ramps that were longer than most enclosed trailers I've seen.

But they looked cool!

12-19-2005, 02:54 AM
My introduction to road racing came as I crewed for a SS guy at the Longest Day of Nelson Ledges....who hauled one of the cars in an old school bus. Passenger safety was NOT one of his concerns when he built it....

Not was climbing the hills on Rt 80 in PA...Thankfully the fule mileage was awful, so we could double up the "cooling period" stops with fuel stops in a 2 for 1 stop deal. A bonus!

Longest trip ever. I drove the only drivable racecar on the team back home thru PA to CT with NO brakes (the pads were almost thru the backing plates) in less time than the bus took...empty, LOL.

Moral?? They are cheap...for a reason.

Now, if you can find one with a good diesel, that MIGHT be worth a look. Then rig up one of those cool lift mechanisms the trailers have...pick one up used at a salvage yard(?) and you're all set.

12-19-2005, 03:21 AM
School buses. Ugh. Big and yellow. If you are interested in school buses you can check out a couple of web sites. One is www.4usedbuses.com (http://www.4usedbuses.com). This is also called Smitty's Used Buses (I think). They are located in Manor TX east of Houston a bit. They have a "showroom" on I-10 in an empty field.

The other is www.422sales.com (http://www.422sales.com). They also have a listing of what they sold recently and what it brought at auction. This place is in the Pittsburg area.

We've got a guy here in the Phoenix area that has a converted ambulance for a tow vehicle. Diesel powered, lots of storage cabinets. Built on a F350 chassis with a 12 (?) foot box.

dave parker
12-19-2005, 01:31 PM
The biggest problem with going the school bus route for a hauler of anything heavy is that they are not durable enough. Before I got into the racecar game, I worked doing pa sound and lights for rock bands. I got a fifty plus passenger school bus (cheap!) for hauling around the pa gear. It was huge and I could get all of our gear and the boys in the band and thier girlfriends into it with no problem. If you needed more room, you just took out more seats.

But the downside is that schoolbuses are designed to carry people, a relatively light item, as opposed to heavy items like pa equipement, cars, tools, etc. The rear differential will be your first big expense, probably far from home too. Don't ask me how I know this :119: .

You would be better off in terms of money, time and effort to get yourself a truck and trailer combo that is designed for the rigors of towing.

Good luck

"dangerous" dave parker

12-19-2005, 07:52 PM
Originally posted by joeg@Dec 17 2005, 11:15 AM

They make good figure 8 race vehicles too!

Methinks Joe has been to Holland Speedway in the summer.

12-19-2005, 08:14 PM
Buddy Puglisse, back in the day, (1980?), carried his FF 1600 in a modified scoolbus with pneumatic rear suspension (and perhaps further clearancing of the wheel wells) tha "kneeled" almost low enough to not need ramps. He went on to found RCCA(?) and is still around as far as I know. He'd be found on Long Island I suppose. It was a pretty neat deal.
Phil Hunt
PS: this was EMRA stuff, incedently. I also remember what had to be the coolest vehicle ever for racecars: the front half of an Olds Toronado grafted to a single axle car trailer, hauling a Datsun 510.

12-19-2005, 10:58 PM
the front half of an Olds Toronado grafted to a single axle car trailer, hauling a Datsun 510.

Look anything like this?

mercedes transporter (http://www.seriouswheels.com/top-1954-Mercedes-Benz-Blue-Wonder-Transporter.htm)

12-19-2005, 11:50 PM
Hardly! It looked like somebody cut a Toronado in half right behind the front seat and welded it to a POS open trailer! But it worked great.

12-19-2005, 11:54 PM
I am a General manager for a business that First Transit operates. First Transit is a division of First Group America. www.firstgroupamerica.com Thats a shameless plug :023: We are the largest "Transit Management" companies in North America (ok another plug :bash_1_: ). First Student (one of the largest school bus companies in North America) is our sister company also part of First Group America.

Anyway... If you need a bus I can help you find one, very cheep. But I personaly wouldn't go this route because.... the vehicles are past thier "usefull life" when we or any transit system sells them. They are not ment for "long distance" travel. the only buses ment for this are commuter busses wich all have thier engines in the back... hard to run ramps. Also one other thing to think about is that the buses with the engine in the front can be a bit noisy, not to mention no passenger seat for the lovely companion.

Busses IMO seem to be generally usefull for one thing... people!!! but... hey if you can costomize "rides" and want a "Cheep Doner" then go for it!!!


PS: I wouldn't think that a bus would have a hard time carying 4,000 worth of car and tools... 40 people at 150lbs is 6000lbs...

12-20-2005, 09:31 AM
What did we do before the internet?


Or the modern version:


12-21-2005, 11:45 PM
Years ago, when I ran motorcycle enduros (with ECEA), there was a gang of guys that used an old school-bus to haul all their dirt bikes around. Had maybe 20 bikes in it at a time. The bus had previously been used by a church.
The guys changed the lettering on the bus to read "Our Lady of Perpetual Mud". Pretty funny.

I've used my aluminum Chevy StepVan for the last 3+ years to haul my Spridget. I've traveled pretty far with this setup....including to Shannonville (from NJ). I used wooden ramps that are about 10' long. A Spridget or a real Mini will *just* fit in it: even a Spitfire is too wide for it.

But it's still a truck and not the most comfortable, so it's for sale. I'll be towing with a regular van and trailer next year (I just bought a new passenger van).

Here my setup:

Bill Miller
12-27-2005, 08:25 AM
If you really want to go this way, I'd look into an old box truck. Actually designed to carry cargo, and probably has a diesel. We bought one for work, and it would probably make a cool car hauler. It's a 16' Hino, w/ a high box that's big enough to stand up in. To me, biggest issue is getting the car in. You might find one w/ a lift gate. To me though, there are a couple of downsides. Most don't have a side door, but even more importantly, most only seat 2 people. I'm also not a big fan of vehicles where you sit out over the front axle!!! Should do 60 - 65 on the highway (but that's probably about all) ok. The one we got was a '98 w/ 225k miles on it (properly maintained, they're probably good for an easy 400k. I think we paid $6500 or so for it.

As far as one of the coolest car haulers ever, anybody that's been around the Northeast since the mid-90s, has probably seen the converted fire truck of Entropy Racing. It was an old American LaFrance ladder truck that had the ladder and the turn table removed, and ramps built on top. It was mostly used to haul Spec Racers, but I've seen other cars on it. Fit two cars, and would pull a dual-axle open trailer behind it.

AFAIK, Charlie still has the fire truck and it's still going strong. Oh yeah, he used to drive the cars up on it! :119:

12-29-2005, 11:16 AM
Before Charlie bought the American LaFrance (which I understand is something like a '54) he had a converted school bus. It lasted only long enough for him to replace the trans and several other major components before being sent down the road. As I recall, it was a brilliant idea in theory which paled in reality.

Greg Gauper
12-29-2005, 04:40 PM
Here in Cen-Div, Terry Jesk used to haul his EP MGB around with a converted school bus in the 70's. 3-Time national champ Logan Blackburn hauled his 280Z in one too during the same time period.

This was before enclosed trailers became as popular as they are today (Heck, even Jerry Hansen used an open car transporter for his ASR & FA cars).

01-01-2006, 02:40 PM
In April, 2004, I went to school at Nelson Ledges. There was 2 guys there getting there wives/girlfriends schooled. They had a Formula V... might have been a Ford in the back of this school bus. The rams they had were easily 20'.

In our local IT crowd, 1 guy uses a diesel ambulance and another uses an old aluminum bus to haul their car trailers.

01-04-2006, 12:19 AM
Originally posted by bldn10@Dec 17 2005, 12:14 PM
There is a guy over in Oklahoma-Kansas who has one. Seeing his narrow, 20' long homemade ramps to get up to the floor level freaks me out. Figure the angle your car needs for clearance and see how long you would need.


I think that would be Brian Haupt. It's affectionately known as the "truss". Front end looks like an old cab-over Mack, or something, with a school bus rear. It's also rigged to pull a trailer - and he tows like a 30' enclosed with it. The whole thing is painted flat black - and has to be the fugliest thing in anybody's paddock.

01-04-2006, 12:23 PM
Anyone remember FAZA, the Fiat guy from south Daytona? I believe he had a converted school bus in the early 70's that hauled a little "Bertone bubble back ( ? )" and an 850.

01-13-2006, 08:11 PM
Reminds me of my racing days back in the early 80's. I got a bright idea similar to the bus only it was a two ton truck. An ex Sears truck no doubt (bad omen) I
worked my a** off converting it complete with a hydraulic loading ramp. The
first and only time I used it was to Summit Point (420 miles) for an IMSA GTU group 2 race. On the way we blew the engine,one tire,lost the brakes(sudden hyd. deal) and got 4 mpg. Also the diff. ate itself on the return. I won $400 (due mainly to attrition) and gave the POS away afterward. I could have rented a front runner
for the cost of transport.
My advise to anyone thinking of such a thing is to beat your head against a brick
wall, then go out and buy a nice diesel dually along an enclosed trailer. That way
you'll get your abuse but above all arrive fresh and safe for your race weekend.
Semi-retired racer but not dead

Edwin Robinson
01-23-2006, 02:52 PM

Pick up a nice diesel E350/450 for about $5k.

Seats 9, stand-up, walk around, TV, Stereo, Dual heat and AC....
360 degree theater-style viewing.
Handicap accessible :^)
Sleep in it if you want....

I can say for certain that anytime it rains - you will have THE most popular vehicle at the track. ;^)


01-30-2006, 02:37 PM
This is a new website... It may or may not take off... not sure (its not mine). It seems to have APTA's backing so it should be a great source for people looking for a possible bus to convert at a very cheep price. You may also be able to find parts for buses at huge deals...

Its new so thier are not a lot of posts, if you really want bus stuff though then boookmark the page and take a look 30 days from now and see if it gets populated or not.

Goodluck :)

Raymond "The Bus Guy" Blethen