If you’ve ever been stuck riding the ‘hound across the Heartland, you know that buses aren’t exactly the first thing to spring to mind when you think of cool transportation options. Nevertheless, there are a handful of buses even the most hardened motor head would love to add to a collection. BoldRide takes a look at ten impressive options:
The original 1964 film The Italian Job did a lot to cement Mini as an intriguing brand around the world. But some of the ancillary vehicles in that movie were just as cool. Case in point: the Bedford VAL14.
It’s unlike anything we ever saw riding the roads in America, but in post-war Europe, these massive rigs brought tourists to exotic locations in the Alps. Several coachbuilders provided bodywork for the Bedford platform, including this one by Harrington Legionnaire. A Paxton-bodied version of the Bedford VAL14 was the bus used in the Beatles legendary disaster Magical Mystery Tour.
You may want to sit down for this, but this bus is French. It’s based on a Citroen U55 chassis, with Spacely Sprockets-style coachwork by Currus. Somebody in Amsterdam actually rescued one of these from the crusher, and is embarking on a restoration. No word on the progress yet.
It’s hard to talk about cool buses without mentioning the GM Futurliner bus. You probably know about the one that sold at Barrett-Jackson in 2006 for $4 million, but there are five more of these buses around the country, including one that’s owned by the Peter Pan Bus Lines in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s green and was restored back in 2000. If you’re up and down I-91 between there and Hartford, Connecticut, you’ll see it on the road from time to time.
The Terra Bus is a massive, 43,000 pound behemoth that’s used to explore the Columbia Icefield, the largest sub-polar ice formation in North America. The Terra Bus can transport up to 56 passengers in comfort. It was designed and built by Canadian Foremost, Ltd. and it extends a history of these types of off-road buses used to explore the Icefield since just after WWII.
Traffic congestion is significant here in the United States, but in China, it’s crippling. In 2010, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment showed off a concept of a “straddling bus” that’s designed to shuttle passengers, but also allows for the free passage of two lanes of traffic underneath. The firm projected that the bus could replace up to 40 conventional buses, saving 860 tons of fuel annually.
1986 Eagle Motor Coach
This bus on its own would be pretty cool, with its shining stainless steel and its Texas flag mural. But what makes it unique is its previous owner: Willie Nelson. There’s no telling what kind of debauchery went on behind the tinted windows of this roach coach when Willie went on the road again. Auctions America sold the bus back in in September of 2012 for just $29,250. You can hardly buy a Camry for that.
The GM TDH-3610 is one of a gajillion buses General Motors sold to municipalities and private contractors over the years, but this particular one is unique in American history: It’s the Montgomery City Lines bus that Rosa Parks rode on December 1, 1955, initiating a new era in the quest for equality in America. The bus was restored and now resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Shortcut High School Bus
The Shortcut High school bus is a 1949 Ford F-5, modified by hot rod builder Jerry Bowers. The bus is powered by a 403-cu.in. Oldsmobile engine, driving the front wheels via a Toronado drivetrain. The bus tours around the country today in support of the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls homes in Virginia.
Mt. Washington Snow Coach
Mount Washington in New Hampshire — the most prominent peak east of the Mississippi and the site of the world’s highest recorded wind speed — features a fantastic auto road to the summit. But it’s closed most of the year due to inclement weather. That’s where the Snow Coach comes in. It’s a heavily modified, nine-passenger Chevrolet Van with four independent tracks to deliver you past the treeline in the winter.
KAMAZ Off Road Bus
If you watch the Paris-Dakar Rally, KAMAZ trucks are a regular feature, but you don’t see them much on this continent. They’ve been in production since 1976 in a number of different forms, including this six-wheel drive bus. The Russian Ministry of Defense, Gazprom and Lukoil have been KAMAZ’s biggest customer.
Image Credits: Wikipedia, Flickr/Chris and Heather Fox, Auction America