During one of my daily searches for interesting cars, I ran into a creation that made me do a double — no, triple — take. People converting old school buses is hardly a new concept. I’ve seen everything from drag buses to skoolie builds, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a 4x4 camper school bus like this one I found for sale.
This bus — currently named Frankenbus — started life as a 1968 GMC H-series school bus chassis with a body by Carpenter. At some point in its life it was extensively modified into the cozy camper you see today.
The camping part of the build isn’t outrageous; it has everything you need in a nice home away from home. I spot two air-conditioners on the roof, an awning on the side and even a whole kitchen. The ad notes that the refrigerator runs on propane, as does the heater for the interior and the water. There’s an inverter to supply electricity for all of the AC gadgets on board.
The interior is very nice, but the real magic is the motive power. Whatever engine was originally under the hood was tossed for a Chevrolet 454, circa 1995, bolted to a 4L80E automatic transmission. So it’s an old bus with relatively modern muscle.
But this wonderful vehicle doesn’t stop there. See that front differential? This thing is four-wheel drive! The tires are absolutely tremendous at 49 inches.
I have many questions. Why the monster off-road build? Why not diesel? Perhaps most important, is fuel economy measured in gallons-per-mile? I contacted the owner to find out more.
He didn’t have an answer for my questions, but he did say he used the bus to go to the beach. The skoolie was used for beach treks even before the impressive drivetrain transformation.
The end result reminds me a bit of those horrendously expensive off-road camper trucks. But not only is this larger, it probably didn’t cost anywhere near as much as those. From the sound of it, you could use the bus to claw your way deep into the middle of nowhere.
This is further evidence that vans and buses can make some of the coolest campers. Forget flimsy travel trailers, build your own camper! The price to start your own adventure with this bus is $10,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Rockland, Massachusetts. That’s pretty reasonable, as sales of completed skoolies often have incredible asking prices.
Updated 3/3/22 with new details.