Buses: Dirty, smelly, sluggish things that dawdle along and make you late for meetings. Perhaps I’m being unkind; after all, I’ve used public transport for years. On regular routes the service can be convenient and relaxing but I’ve always preferred the car. The bus isn’t ideally suited to someone wanting to do their weekly shop either. One or two carrier bags seems to be the socially acceptable limit. I don’t know about you but for the amount of shopping we get I think van hire would be more appropriate!
Surely the bus has other redeeming features? Well, yes, enthusiastic tinkerers and bodgers adapt all sorts of vehicles for fun and to make statements about their personality. Some with even more foresight and an eye for the unusual even alter an old bus into a homes or eateries. This is more popular than you might first assume. UK double-deckers have more space than some modern flats and the US school buses make great fast food vehicles. If you enjoy life on the open road with an RV or caravan then a refitted bus, to your own specifications, will probably appeal too.
In 2008, engineer Graham Smith finally completed his 20 year conversion project of a 1968 Daimler Fleetline double-decker bus. At the tender age of 62 he had perfected his dream vehicle to have his home comforts and be a travelling garage for his Fiat 500. Read more.
This school bus has only had a bit of work done to it so far and except for the homely lamp to the rear it’s not that obvious from the outside.
On the inside, however, things are starting to take shape. It looks a bit like a student’s room so far but once the owner has improved his cash flow the interior will be kitted out to make it a better living space.
The owners of this Chinese bus have had more time and money and have converted this into a sleepover vehicle. Handy for those late night parties.
If it’s mod cons you need and you want to maintain some eco-credentials then how about installing an ‘Envirolet’ – a composting toilet in your bus? This particular model is an MS10 and currently occupies a converted school bus in Texas.
This one has to be my particular favourite. I love the no-nonsense cab and the log cabin-on-wheels effect. The slated roof just tops it off perfectly.
This little beauty is a 1966 Eagle with a 10-speed manual transmission. Just over 20 years ago she was converted into a home.
It’s cosy, functional and has more than a hint of charm about it.
Now this refurbished coach with its walnut interior is just desperate for a new owner. Converted 11 years ago this model is aging well and still has a modern appearance.
If you’re a fan of dark wood then this is the one to go for. I’m more of a pine and beech person myself but I still appreciate the overall look they’ve achieved with this.
This old steel Gillig bus has seen better days but the present owners have done a lot to it. The roof is made of white rubber, essential to keep the vehicle from rusting and it also works both as insulation and as a heat reflector. They’ve tried to lessen its environmental impact by installing a solar panel on the roof and have converted the engine to run on vegetable oil. Heating is provided by propane gas and this also serve to power the fridge if required.
Internally the bus looks so much better. A well fitted spacious kitchen with green tiled worktops and a light wood finish makes it a very attractive proposition to me.
The famous Routemaster buses of London always provoke comment. With a clever play on words this RML 2690 has been rebranded the Rootmaster Bustaurant and is one of the capital’s most popular vehicular restaurants. The bus had seen long service prior to it’s new role; starting off life in 1967 before ‘learing new skills’ and ‘re-inventing itself’ in 2004. Its strictly vegan menu features brown rice, lentils and tofu and also a range of organic wines and beers. Upstairs there is room for 28 seated diners while downstairs the kitchen has an external serving hatch and can cater to those like a takeaway.
Malinkey’s Travelling Restaurant is another example, this time utilising additional tent space for the more avant-garde clients. This eatery does snacks, breakfasts and a selection of main meals.
Then we have Bernie’s Burger Bus. The name tells you everything you need to know. Bernie has found a niche in the fast food burger market by going for quality in his meals. You’ll find only the best, natural black Angus beef, homemade ketchup, mustard and hand-prepared fries and burgers here without all the preservatives and fillers you find in many other burger joints. Even his bread is from a local bakery, not bought in, in bulk. His unique selling point, if you don’t mind marketing-speak are the names in his menu. Depending on spiciness, hotness and flavours you can pick up a ‘Principal’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Bully’ or ‘Detention’ among others.
I’m actually starting to feel a bit peckish now.
If you thought that adapting a bus into an eatery would be an expensive job then think again. Back in 1982, a business in West Yorkshire kept it simple. True, it doesn’t have fabulous decor but it has a charm all of its own.
Guest blogger, Greg Coltman, writes prolifically about all things transport-based and is particularly keen on innovative uses people find for their vehicles that are out of the ordinary.