Like most carmakers established in the early years of the 20th century, it didn’t take long for Chevrolet to start producing trucks. The bowtie company introduced the 490 one-ton hauler in 1918, only one year after Ford launched the TT.
But it wasn’t until the early 1940s that Chevrolet began offering a more varied lineup that included cab-over designs, two-ton trucks, and even school bus chassis. Following the AK Series of 1941-1947, Chevrolet debuted the Advance Design lineage. The company’s first major redesign after WWII, the Advance Design was bigger, sleeker, and more capable than its predecessor.
The small 3100 trucks were still based on passenger cars, namely the Styleline and Fleetline. But the series expanded well beyond 1/2-ton haulers. Chevrolet also offered 3/4- and one-ton trucks (including forward control versions), as well as two-tone haulers (including cab-over versions). A pair of school bus chassis rounded off a truck lineup consisting of no fewer than 15 different iterations.
Come 2023, the Advance Design is still a somewhat common sight despite being some 70 years old. However, this applies mainly to smaller 1/2- and 3/4-ton trucks. The bigger haulers are pretty scarce due to lower production numbers and the fact that most of them were left to rot away once they retired from the road. The same goes for the school buses, which are even more difficult to find in one piece.
If you haven’t seen one in a long time, YouTube’s “Barn Find & Rescue” recently uncovered one somewhere in the US. Found on what appears to be an abandoned property, this school bus is as mysterious as they get.
Reportedly parked for 50 years, it spent most of its life locked up in a wooden barn. The bus was repainted light blue (there are traces of the typical school bus yellow in the engine compartment), a sign that it was repurposed when it stopped hauling kids to school. And it looks like it was later converted into some sort of living quarters. Which explains why it was hidden behind wooden planks in the barn.
But even though it sat for a half-century, the bus is in good condition overall. It’s a bit rusty, the engine is probably stuck, and the original interior is all gone, but this truck took five decades of storage like a champ. It’s a fantastic survivor that’s totally worth restoring. Assuming someone wants a 1950 school bus in his collection, that is.
Although our host calls this Chevy a 6500, it’s likely a 6700. At least that’s what Chevrolet named its largest school bus chassis at the time. While the 6500 two-ton truck had a 179-inch (4,547-mm) wheelbase, the bus was a tad longer at 199 inches (5,055 mm). Chevrolet also offered a shorter school bus chassis called the 4500 and sporting a 161-inch (4,089-mm) wheelbase. The 6700 bus was the longest iteration of the Advance Design truck series.
The lineup was powered by inline-six engines exclusively. The series debuted with a 216-cubic-inch (3.5-liter) mill, which was discontinued after the 1953 model year. Starting in 1954, the Advance Series was available with 235- and 261-cubic-inch (3.9- and 4.3-liter) straight-six powerplants. This bus left the factory with a 216 unit rated at 92 horsepower.
There’s no info on whether the new owner is planning on restoring this hauler or not, but I’d very much like to see it back on the road