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Old 02-17-2018, 04:38 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Value of 70's crown w 855 and 5 speed manual

Ran across a guy that is within driving distance that has a mid 70's crown with a Cummings 855 and a 5 speed manual. Trying to figure out if its worth what he is asking, and if its worth blowing my budget out of the water on.

Front of the bus is more faded than the sides, and I didn't realize that the front cap is steel, but there are some small rust holes (dime sized) above the passenger door, and corresponding holes on the drivers side.

The side and rear paint is in better shape, but obviously older paint. It is still yellow and still has the school district name on the side as well.

The interesting thing about it is, the district apparently paid to convert it into either a bookmobile or a computer workshop or something. The interior is currently empty, and the floor/ceiling/walls are covered in a tight woven automotive carpet. The carpet looks nice and is in decent shape. There are a few additional lights inside, for the conversion and they added a 7kw (gas) Onan generator.

The generator also operates the 2 RV style AC units up top, but the plastic is busted up by hail and the fins are mashed up a bit as well (I didn't climb on top to look at the fins but the plastic is obviously damaged, the front one looks really damaged).

I think that gas generator was spendy when it was new and it doesn't have a lot of hours on it. I assume that it is probably $2-$2.5k by itself used, but its also old enough I am not sure if its a bit of a liability if its been sitting too long or not and that carburetor or fuel tank is gummed up. The small fuel door they added for the generator seems to be rusting a bit as well.

He wants $10.5k for it, which was significantly more than my planned budget for just the bus. But it also has some things that most just retired buses don't have (2 AC & generator). You don't see many crowns out near us, so I am afraid to pass it up, since I think they are practically mechanical art form. But I am also not sure if I was choosing components that I would have installed 2 roof top AC's and a 7kw gas generator. I probably would have done 1 AC, and a generator about half the size (but if I had a big checkbook, I would want one of the new quiet diesel generators to run off the bus tank).

I realize I have some mechanical and building skills, but I am smart enough to know they aren't at the level I see some of the folks doing really nice conversions. So I know enough to know I don't really won't know what I am doing with a 15 year old bus conversion, not sure I am brave enough to tackle a 40 year old bus conversion.

I am also a bit worried about that nice floor and headliner. Will I have to rip it all out to fix those rust holes and then will the lights be in the right place, or will it have to come out to move lights and install cabinets?

I also want to bring a motorcycle along when I travel, and I know my road glide isn't fitting through the crown side emergency door. So i need to have a trailer along for that. But with the midmount engine, and the frame ending by the back wheels.... Not sure I know anyone in the area that would be good enough (engineering) to cantilever a frame extension out to accommodate a receiver hitch that will tolerate some tongue weight. I saw a nice example on the forum, but they weren't exactly using a no-name welding shop to engineer or install it.

So I'm curious what people think they are worth these days, and how much extra is this partial conversion done by the school district 15-20 years ago is worth in addition to the bus (or is it more of a liability).
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:12 PM   #2
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Pictures would help a lot. Doesn't sound like something I'd pay anywhere near $10k for. I plan to carry 1 if not both my bikes and therefore knew up front that a front engine bus would give me the rear access needed to load bikes the easiest way.
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Old 02-17-2018, 11:51 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Pictures would help a lot. Doesn't sound like something I'd pay anywhere near $10k for. I plan to carry 1 if not both my bikes and therefore knew up front that a front engine bus would give me the rear access needed to load bikes the easiest way.
Yeah, the Crown is just so sexy with those art deco curves, and not too many of them outside of the west coast.

If the frame extended all the way back, I'd just put a hitch on it, and put my bikes on a small trailer. That crumple zone in the back makes it much more work to effectively put a trailer hitch on it.

The current owner was going to put a couple of his old bikes (pre WW2) in through the (side) emergency door, which is possible, but I doubt a modern cruiser would go in that door.

Some pics attached. Single Tandem Axle Crown. I think its a 36foot.
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Old 02-18-2018, 04:04 AM   #4
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Pluses: 855 Cummins, Onan 7KW genset, interior cleaned out and carpeted, RV style roof top A/C.

Minuses: 5-speed (I don't like to shift), carpet covering everything so you don't know what they did to prepare surfaces before they carpeted/

Are you sure that is rust and not just paint lifting? The front and rear caps are steel along with the 'A'-pillars. All of the roof panels and side body panels are aluminum. Since you most probably don't want to keep it school bus yellow prepping for paint should take care of any problems in the skin of the body.

A decent Crown is going to sell for $5K+ any more. The days of finding one for under $1K are long gone. A decent Crown with a 7KW genset is going to cost a lot more than $5K.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Pluses: 855 Cummins, Onan 7KW genset, interior cleaned out and carpeted, RV style roof top A/C.

Minuses: 5-speed (I don't like to shift), carpet covering everything so you don't know what they did to prepare surfaces before they carpeted/

Are you sure that is rust and not just paint lifting? The front and rear caps are steel along with the 'A'-pillars. All of the roof panels and side body panels are aluminum. Since you most probably don't want to keep it school bus yellow prepping for paint should take care of any problems in the skin of the body.

A decent Crown is going to sell for $5K+ any more. The days of finding one for under $1K are long gone. A decent Crown with a 7KW genset is going to cost a lot more than $5K.
Thanks cowlitz, I think if he only wanted 5k for it, it would already be parked in my yard. At 10.5k, it may be a fair price with all the extras, but it would blow my budget so badly, i don't think I can justify it to myself. If it didn't have those RV AC units on top, I think it would even fit in my detached garage (it would be very close on height and length). Which would make it nice to work on certain things, like trying to paint it myself.

As far as the rust, I wasn't up on a ladder so not sure, but I thought those were holes, and I think the owner described them as holes.

I actually wouldn't mind keeping it yellow if the front cap wasn't so faded, but I do know some jurisdiction frown on keeping them yellow. I think if I did repaint it another color, I'd have to find an old school sign painter and see if he could reletter it as "Crown Supercoach" on the side, and put the crown pinstriping back on.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:59 PM   #6
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That 855 should honk that thing up a hill in quick order. If the mechanicals are in order, and you don't mind shifting, it's worth his asking price. You could offer a couple thousand less without insulting him, more if you don't care.

10 wheel Crowns go for about $4k+. Lot more bus, less money -- that is until you buy tires
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:41 PM   #7
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Make him an offer.
Worst he can do is say no.
I really like the way a mid engine bus drives.
I think a big rear door and ramp would be quite doable if a person has the know-how.
Have fun!
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:47 PM   #8
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Try offering the guy $7,500 if you can afford it. I'm sue he expects to get talked down a little.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:49 PM   #9
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Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
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Crown prices today

You aren't going to find any Crowns worth having, that don't have real
expensive issues for less than $8-10K. If it's cheaper than that it WILL need repairs, and they can cost more than you paid for the bus. Most all of the recently sold Crowns from operators and districts, have been run hard and put away wet, for years, with no extra money spent on repairs, because they all knew they would have to retire/sell them on a particular date. That's a business decision that any smart entity would make. You, the new buyer will inherit all the repairs, they deferred.

A Crown is NOT a cheap "skoolie" like you're all used to. If you don't appreciate the differences and understand what drives the pricing, you shouldn't play with them. That Crown looks to be in pretty good condition overall. If the engine and the rest of the running gear is in the same condition, it's worth $10k by itself. The rust around the door and windshield area is pretty normal and found on essentially all Crowns due to their age, and the steel in that area. It's not hard at all to repair and part of any good body and paint job.

Crowns in the wild are disappearing and mostly all gone now, due to the Kalifornia Holocaust. I've seen two examples just in the last couple of weeks where they sold for just over $5k.....plus $500-$1k tow bill, with a blown engine and still purchased by someone who thought enough to get it and probably repair and run it again, or maybe just use it for parts. Maybe I'll find out someday what happened to them.

Bottom line regarding Crowns, if you have to ask questions like this, maybe you should look for something else. It would also be nice to know where you are, and where the Crown is located. It helps because if you do decide to get it, you're going to need to find someone nearby to help you with learning about it, and probably repair it. This knowledge is hard to find outside of the West Coast regions where Crowns were sold in quantities. I'm around, if you're serious, and willing to learn.

Crowns are not for everyone, and those who do get one usually don't regret it. There may be some initial financial pain, but once it's in reliable and safe cross country condition, it will run for years with only routine maintenance, and it will always get you home. Plus, the driving experience is off the charts. It you've never had the privilege, you just don't know what you're missing.
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Old 02-19-2018, 10:16 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
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Thanks for the info crown_guy. I was already thinking the bus is worth what he is asking, even if it wasn't in my original budget. While I certainly could choose to afford it if I wanted to, but I found I was sort of drifting out of focus on what I was trying to accomplish with a schoolie. Which is to do some occasional RVing while bringing my motorcycles along. For that mission, I am thinking a mid sized bus with either a rear lift, or at least a large rear door.

But I feel a Crown is in a class by itself, and based on my interest and ownership in older cars and motorcycles, the classic styling sort of fits with my sense of style as well. So I just had to go take a look, but really I haven't see a crown sell recently, so didn't really know what they were going for.

I have no idea if this is one of the rode hard put away wet buses, as the current owner doesn't have any maintenance records. But it is still yellow, and the current owner was the one that removed the school districts internal mods, so I am guessing it was purchased out of a school district in the past few years. I do believe you that it would be hard to find expertise here in Colorado since you never see a bus like this out here.

If this was several years in the future after I have had the opportunity to have already converted a bus and gotten that experience, had to deal with a few issues related to owning and operating a bus as an RV, I think I wouldnt have even blinked at writing the guy a check and driving it home. So for me the timing just isn't right, but I know that I will be kicking myself in the future for not having grabbed this one up.
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