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Old 01-15-2020, 08:20 PM   #1
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1961 GM Bus - The adventure begins!

Hi everyone!

Here's a little bit about us and our bus:

We were displaced by a hurricane in 2016, so we jumped in our old VW bus and traveled the U.S. for 2+ years with our cat and dog. While on the road, we dreamed of a bigger bus to call home and found a 1961 GM bus that had been sitting in the dry New Mexico desert for over 10 years! We were able to trade web/graphic design work for the bus and it has been a wild adventure working on it, shipping it to the East Coast and beginning the conversion! We hope to learn a lot, help others and we're excited to join the community!





Peace & Love,
The Lills
1961 GM Bus
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:25 PM   #2
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THat's real cool.
I started out on VW's and worked my way up to school buses.

Welcome!
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:32 PM   #3
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Hey, thank you! That's awesome!

We're definitely looking forward to having more space!

The VW will still be our daily driver, but we can't wait to finish converting the GM. How are you enjoying the skoolies?
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:29 AM   #4
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They're cheaper and more robust than VW's. Not as fun to drive though.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:06 AM   #5
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We had a VW bug, got it for my wife just after we got married, she loved it. Wishes we still had it. I like driving the bus better, I have always like driving anything big though.

We started out tent camping, yuck I never liked it. Built a teardrop camper loved it used it about 10 years, then pickup truck camper. Loved it but they are just so fragile, as they say sticks and staples. Now we have been using our bus for a little more then year and this is by far the best. So much room, and solidly built.

Our build thread is "the Bus" . We still do not have a name for it but ECCB gave it a really neat name, but not quite publicly usable....

You have a really neat bus, think you are going to love it. Those old Detroits run forever and parts are still readily available.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:13 AM   #6
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a fishbowl!!!! thats a classic!!.. Keep that one original and get a school bus to travel the country in..


the detroit motors in these are solid and long-time runners... learn it and treat it well and its a Lifetime drivetrain..
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:23 AM   #7
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a fishbowl!!!! thats a classic!!.. Keep that one original and get a school bus to travel the country in..


the detroit motors in these are solid and long-time runners... learn it and treat it well and its a Lifetime drivetrain..

Keep it original? NO then it is useless.... Ok just joking, however I would convert it, there are other preserved ones so go for it is my take on restoration. If it was really rare then restoration.

Christopher are they getting rare?
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:33 AM   #8
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I'd imagine if you ever break the glass it would be real expensive.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:50 AM   #9
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Keep it original? NO then it is useless.... Ok just joking, however I would convert it, there are other preserved ones so go for it is my take on restoration. If it was really rare then restoration.

Christopher are they getting rare?



they are getting rare.. and people pay pretty decent money for them in original condition if they are in good shape, intact and can be revived.. some rusted out pretty bad..



ive seen some really nice conversions with them.. but the shapes inside to work around are sometimes interesting.. a lot of them were geasred really low bewcause they are designed to be city busses.. there was a version called a "suburban" that was built with coach-style seats that typically had a really nice highway drivetrain...



the engines are bulletproof... detroit 6V71's in most of them from what I understand..


Glass is still pretty available.. if one does end up going t oscrap because its frame rusted out, most often the front glass is harvested and kept.. the side windows are flat glass so a custom glass shop can make those pretty readily.. rear windows are the toughest as it is a single piece curved glass..



admittedly im Biased about these since im more a bus enthusiast i like to see classics in the "spirit" of the original ..


if the OP converts this bus like their VW looks then it will be fantastic.. as their van carries all the spirit of the original VW Bus..


the ride quality of these GMC's is really nice esp when they are loaded..





all i can say is learn and read about the detroit before firing it the first time if it had sat 10 years.. bus greasemonkey on Youtube is a wonderful resource..


-Christopher
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:22 AM   #10
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*EastCoastCB - You got it! We've driven the big bus only a few miles, but we're excited to become pros! - Peace & Love
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:29 AM   #11
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*Ronnie - That is too cool! We love that you've gone through it all and ended up happy with your bus!! You should definitely find another VW down the line, they are a one-of-a-kind experience! We'll be sure to check out your bus thread and thanks so much for the comment! - Peace & Love
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:37 AM   #12
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*cadillackid - The bus already had the seats taken out when we found it and we've begun the conversion. We're learning a lot from knowledgeable bus guys (some who know the fishbowls well) and we intend to give it a ton of love and care. As of right now, we don't have a home, so we are so excited to transform this bus into our tiny house on wheels. Our intention is to keep it and never sell it, so we're not too worried about the value. It's priceless to us This bus is the suburban model and because it sat in the dry desert for 10 years, it has very little rust and is in good shape. We got the engine purring, while working on it in New Mexico and we've found some great connections to original parts. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful info! - Peace & Love
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:38 AM   #13
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*Ronnie - That is too cool! We love that you've gone through it all and ended up happy with your bus!! You should definitely find another VW down the line, they are a one-of-a-kind experience! We'll be sure to check out your bus thread and thanks so much for the comment! - Peace & Love
My first was a 71 my mom got from a barn down the street for a few hundred bucks. She gave it to me for xmas. Then I found a totally rust free all original 70 under a tree in a neighborhood covered in green algae. Offered the owner $300 or so, I cant remember, and pulled it home. changed the oil and plugs, put a new used battery in it and drove that sucker for a few years. Sold it for $1200 at a vw show. Got a 67 split westy from a guy who was hard up for cash. Cost me $800. That one was cool!

I still have my first vw. its a 66 beetle resto custom. Been slowly piecing the front suspension together.
I can't afford to play with old vw's anymore. the whole scene got REAL expensive and the good parts have been drying up leaving only the chinese and south american stuff.
Went to a big vw show last year after leaving the scene in the early 2000's. I was shocked at how different it was. no more small community vibe. Mostly radically customized $50k showcars. The swap meet was all cheap chrome chinese stuff and rusty swiss cheese project cars that woulda been $50 junkers back in the day going for $5k and up.
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:11 AM   #14
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*cadillackid - The bus already had the seats taken out when we found it and we've begun the conversion. We're learning a lot from knowledgeable bus guys (some who know the fishbowls well) and we intend to give it a ton of love and care. As of right now, we don't have a home, so we are so excited to transform this bus into our tiny house on wheels. Our intention is to keep it and never sell it, so we're not too worried about the value. It's priceless to us This bus is the suburban model and because it sat in the dry desert for 10 years, it has very little rust and is in good shape. We got the engine purring, while working on it in New Mexico and we've found some great connections to original parts. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful info! - Peace & Love

that rocks!!.. glads you got it running and have driven it a little.. theresd a lot of love for these out there so lots of people to help when somethung happens.. they have a following..



it derfimitely looks to be in great shape!.. I doubt anything they are masking nowadays will be able to still look that good almost 60 years later!
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
My first was a 71 my mom got from a barn down the street for a few hundred bucks. She gave it to me for xmas. Then I found a totally rust free all original 70 under a tree in a neighborhood covered in green algae. Offered the owner $300 or so, I cant remember, and pulled it home. changed the oil and plugs, put a new used battery in it and drove that sucker for a few years. Sold it for $1200 at a vw show. Got a 67 split westy from a guy who was hard up for cash. Cost me $800. That one was cool!

I still have my first vw. its a 66 beetle resto custom. Been slowly piecing the front suspension together.
I can't afford to play with old vw's anymore. the whole scene got REAL expensive and the good parts have been drying up leaving only the chinese and south american stuff.
Went to a big vw show last year after leaving the scene in the early 2000's. I was shocked at how different it was. no more small community vibe. Mostly radically customized $50k showcars. The swap meet was all cheap chrome chinese stuff and rusty swiss cheese project cars that woulda been $50 junkers back in the day going for $5k and up.
What an AMAZING present!! You are so lucky to have gotten to enjoy so many cool rides and that is so beautiful that you still have your 66 beetle!

When we traveled in our Westfalia coast to coast, we would hop on The Samba (a VW forum) and there was a good sense of community. We were hit by a drunk driver in the Arizona desert and were stuck for 24 days and the members on there really helped us out (finding parts, keeping our spirits up).

We found ours back in 2013 and got it for $1,800. It's worth wayyy more now, which we found out when we worked with our insurance company after the accident. We somehow got it pieced back together and got back on the road, thankfully.

We saw a lot of restored VW buses in Cali, as people love to bling them out. Ours is rusty and clunky, but it managed to get us all over the country for 2 years. We have so many memories in it and we just love seeing others still out there on the road.

We love your stories, thank you so much for sharing! - Peace & Love
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:35 AM   #16
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that rocks!!.. glads you got it running and have driven it a little.. theresd a lot of love for these out there so lots of people to help when somethung happens.. they have a following..



it derfimitely looks to be in great shape!.. I doubt anything they are masking nowadays will be able to still look that good almost 60 years later!
We have seen a lot of enthusiasm out there for this bus and the other models. We're excited to share what we're doing and make connections with those who have the love for them. We feel very lucky to be able to have one in such good shape and we are thrilled about the journey. Thanks for the good vibes! - Peace & Love
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:28 AM   #17
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Nice bus! Looking forward to the progress.
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Old 01-17-2020, 08:45 AM   #18
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Nice bus! Looking forward to the progress.
Thanks Johnny! We're excited to share the progress!

Here are the videos we created, documenting the bus rescue and shipping from the New Mexico desert to the East Coast:







- Peace & Love
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:04 AM   #19
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Great videos, I subscribed. You really seem to have what it takes to do this, can't wait to see the finished result.
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:20 AM   #20
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Great videos, I subscribed. You really seem to have what it takes to do this, can't wait to see the finished result.
Hey, thank you! That means a lot to us! - Peace & Love
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