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Old 01-25-2011, 01:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder bread)

Hey everyone-

Lots of awesome information on this forum and we've been reading like crazy!

Looking for a shorty skoolie for bike/surf/adventure trips- not as a full time thing. We spent three weeks living out of rented ford pleasureway pop-top camper last summer and absolutely loved it (we just needed a little more space for our gear intensive sports (bikes/ surfboards/ kayaks, etc). Looking for a short-bus to make into camper/gear hauler for fun trips.

I found this one at an auto dealership for $3,500. It's a '90 Bluebird with Chevy 5.7 liter engine. 91K miles and government agency owned. I don't know anything else about it.

Any opinions on a "wonder bread" bus like this?

- Because it's at an auto dealer, they do all the DMV paperwork and registration for you, and is pretty much guaranteed to have a clear title (which is a big issue in California).
- Already painted white (I think we have to repaint it non-school bus yellow in California)
- No school bus lighting to remove
- Big cargo cage area means two less rows of seats to remove

- Cost?
- ????
- GVW on a wonder bread bus?
- Reliability on this type chassis?

Would you experienced skoolies be comfortable driving something like this from the SF Bay Area to Oregon/Idaho/Colorado for 3-14 day trips? Reliability is important since we both have non-flexible jobs that we need to get back to. Have solid carpentry/electrical/plumbing skills for a conversion, but not so much on the vehicle mechanical end of things.

Debating something like this, or a newer (mid 90's-2000) used cutaway type short bus. (Or even a shuttle bus type vehicle).

Any and all opinions are welcome. We are excited about joining the club!

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-25-2011, 02:23 PM   #2
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Re: Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder brea

Welcome to! A 20 year old vehicle will always be prone to mechanical problems no matter what type of vehicle it is. You will always pay more from a dealer than a private individual. $3,500 seems a little high for that van, but not outrageous. I paid that much for my 1996 bus (with 165,000mi.), which was also from a dealer. I don't know anything about those types of vans though, so can't help you there. Too bad they put the emergency exit door right next to the front entry door. Or is that for a wheelchair lift?
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:11 PM   #3
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Re: Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder brea

$3500 seems pretty steep. If you have time, keep looking (or play hardball with the dealer-there cant be too many people looking for a bus.)

Have you driven yet? Take it on the highway-does it rev to the moon at 65 mph? If so, long trips would be a pain.
Don't make a fuss-just get on the bus!

my bus build
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Old 01-26-2011, 03:52 AM   #4
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Re: Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder brea

That seems pretty steep price wise...

It's also a gasser... I'm not familiar with that chassis, but I'm guessing it can't hold/pull near the weight that my shorty can...

Myself, I'd keep looking...
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:40 AM   #5
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Re: Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder brea

hmm You might keep looking. That style of bus and even the longer ones of that style and near that 1990 year go for 2k or less around here. $1 to $2k seems to be norm in Wisconsin craiglist land. Only time I see higher is if the person did serious amount of work (engine, tran, etc).
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Old 01-26-2011, 09:11 AM   #6
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Re: Skoolie newbie needs advice on '90 bluebird (wonder brea

Don't know how far you're willing to travel to get a good deal. However, there's a similar model bus on publicsurplus in WA right now for a good price. ... auc=521479

Don't let the excitement of bus shopping push you into buying too soon.

hope this helps,
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