If you’ve got some extra cash lying around and are looking for a sweet vintage ride, you could bid on this cool 1937 tour bus used in Yellowstone National Park.
A tour bus used in Yellowstone National Park from the year 1937 is up for auction on Sotheby’s website. It’s a definite looker too.
It’s a White Motor Company Model 706 fourteen-passenger National Park Bus, with all of the cool old curves and styling of that era. The Yellowstone Park website indicates that a total of twenty-seven Model 706 buses were purchased by the park in 1936, and by 1939, ninety-eight busses of various 706 models were operating throughout.
While Yosemite and Glacier National Parks also employed this model of tour bus, Yellowstone had by far the largest number of them operating anywhere in the country.
They were heavily used in the park until around 1958 and even into the early 1970s, but they were gradually phased out as the auto industry continued to grow and more and more families relied on individual car ownership.
Mecum Auctions had a similar tour bus on the blocks last year and their account of the history of transportation in Yellowstone is worth repeating here:
From hiking to pack mule to stage coach to busses, the transportation story of Yellowstone is truly one for the books with accounts of private companies and individuals vying for the contracts to ferry people around the park, many merging and going out of business in the process.
The Yellowstone Park and Transportation Company was the most successful, backed by partners and eventually the railroad and headed up by Harry Childs. White was largely the exclusive provider of motor vehicles for the park in the earliest days, segueing with the stagecoach times with open-sided, multi-person carriers.
The railroads helped finance a lot of the purchases of these vehicles, one report dating back to 1917 with a loan of $427,000 to buy busses and other assorted vehicles.
The Whites proved exceptionally durable and robust, comfortable and relatively easy to drive, earning them points time and again to sell more vehicles.
A fire destroying most of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company vehicles in 1925 put White to the test, with the owner of the company, Harry Childs, contacting White and negotiating a deal for about 90 new buses and vehicles to meet the demands of the coming summer season less than three months away. White put all their efforts forth to make the business work out and delivered on time.
There were a few stylistic differences (the design of the corners of the front window, for example) between the various models, but they were basically the same.
The bus has a 6-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The rear end behind the passenger seats contained a divided storage compartment that held blankets for the passengers to use should they want them.
The park has a large collection of historic vehicles, dating all the way back to the park’s inception, currently housed in an historic structure on the grounds. They hope to eventually construct a more suitable storage and exhibition facility and open it to the public, possibly as a wing of the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center.
The tour bus that was offered at the Mecum Auction last year had an estimated value of $300,000 to $350,000.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.
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