Should I buy this bus?
(The photo of the engine is OLD and from the ad, parts have since been removed, see below.)
Looking at a 2001 flat nose International with a dt466e and Allison. It was a corrections department bus, so no stop and go and I would assume decent maintenance. It has 30,000 miles on it! The body is in pretty good condition with minor scrapes, the chassis has minor rust. The tires are all from '07 but they're in fantastic condition and I would feel confident driving on them unless there's strong opinion that I shouldn't. (Someone even wants to buy them for $2k, they're Michelin.)
The perks for me are the absolutely massive headroom (6ft 6in) because I'm quite tall and the length, 35 feet.
Cons are that I was hoping to find a rear engine as I'm a mountain lover, bothered by loud noise, the dog house is kind of annoying to work around, and would have preferred a side emergency exit door.
The big caveat to this absolute gem is that it doesn't start. The belt tensioner snapped off in January and it's been sitting since then.
I'm actually purchasing it from a diesel mechanic whose client abandoned it at his shop when it broke down 100 miles after buying it at auction. It was driven into the yard, overheating, and started and ran until they disabled it. The guy seemed really honest and decent, and is willing to give me a used front cover along with the purchase.
Everything is disassembled at the moment. The outer side of the front cover needs to be purchased and replaced. (Found some used ones for $350.) The radiator, air cooler, front cover in both parts, front cal, and bumper need to be put back on.
He recommended I have the radiator cleaned as well, and told me all this with the oil change would cost $2,800 'on a good day' and $3,300 'on a bad day'.
The asking price of the bus is $2,250, but he told me he'd be willing to take $2,000. It's taking up a ton of space, he's busy with more lucrative projects, and never wanted it to be his problem. I'd have to get it towed 2 hours off of his property to where I can store it, which as I understand it will be a hundred bucks an hour. (Please tell me if that's accurate.)
My budget is $4k with an absolute cap of $4.5k. I know I will never find headroom this good or mileage this low again. Do you think it's worth spending $5k? It would be most of my savings. As I understand it, an engine with this little wear will last an extremely long time.
Other issues with the bus include the emergency exit door not closing due to the handle being seized. Some of the seal on the windshield looks questionable. The battery compartment is rusted to the point it'd need reinforcing at the least, but the batteries have been replaced. There's some scrapes on the body which you can see in the photos. Some of the windows appear not to shut fully, I think the slides just need to be lubricated. Of course I can't test drive it, but what I could see of the engine looked decent, no leaks, mostly minimal rust.
I'm fairly confident I can flush the radiator myself, and like I mentioned I found some used front timing covers for ~350 bucks. Will it really cost $2.5-3k much just to have everything put back together (with the oil and filter change) if I have the parts? I have family I can ask for help. Is this something an amateur car mechanic unfamiliar with diesel could do? Is there any aspect of reconstruction you'd recommend only a professional handle? With some DIY, how much do you think I could get the cost down?
I understand this is a risky purchase. I'm willing to risk something for that low, low mileage and amazing headroom, but not everything.
Is there anything else that seems questionable here or advice you could give me? Should I buy this bus? I have to decide and get it towed before Monday, other wise the guy is gonna rip the engine out, sell the tires, and scrap the rest.