Back in the ‘60s, the British Motor Corporation (which eventually became British Leyland) went racing. To design a flashy mobile garage to support the MGs, Minis, and other cars on the track, they called Pininfarina. And now one is for sale.
Based on a Leyland bus chassis, the Pininfarina-penned lines were crafted in aluminum by coachbuilder Marshall’s of Cambridge. Underneath, a 5.1- or 6.1-liter Perkins diesel engine kept things moving. This bus has the larger engine fitted, putting its power down through an Eaton five-speed transmission.
After these buses were built they were used for a short time as support vehicles for BMC’s racing efforts. Originally painted red, around twenty of the machines were built and some of them even left the United Kingdom to support racing efforts abroad in the United States and Australia. One bus was even extended to fit two Mini race cars in the back and used to cart them from race to race all over Europe.
After their use in racing, the buses would find a new life refitted as mobile classrooms used to teach BMC dealers how to service the company’s new Minis. It’s then that this particular bus lost its red paint and gained the blue you see today.
It might sound unusual to you that a BMC vehicle would get lines penned by Pininfarina but this actually wasn’t the only collaboration between the two firms. The other example of a Pininfarina-designed BMC vehicle is the BMC 1800 Berlina from 1967, a few years after these buses were built. Though based on the rather pedestrian BMC ADO17 platform, better known as the Landcrab, the 1800 Berlina featured an aerodynamic body that evokes the Citroen CX and Rover SD1 that would follow more than seven and nine years later respectively.
Bus or Berlina, Pininfarina’s lines really do suit the BMC designs rather well. I wonder if more cooperation between the two might have helped both companies avoid the challenges they faced further down the line.
This particular bus was built in 1963. The seller says it has done around 33,000 miles and that it is mechanically complete, needing mostly cosmetic work. It’s listed on eBay right here. If you’re interested in what a restored one looks like, check out this write-up of one that sold at auction back in 2016.
I think this one would work great as an RV. The blue is beautiful but even if the moss and lichen add character, they probably will need to come off. A simple interior with just the bare necessities and you’ve got quite the camper. But that’s just me.