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13 June 2016 Update
# 2480

  Owned by
Fred Claridge
Bolter # 19477


1956 Chevy Short School Bus

"Hotrod Bus"


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From Fred :

I started working on cars with my friend when I was 14 years old.  My first ride in a fast car was a 1972 Pantera he was working on for a guy.

As I went through my teen years, I hung out at my friend’s house and worked on hotrods with him instead of partying with people from school. Time better spent I think.

So fast forward to 21 years old.  I just returned home from Germany after a two year service mission for my Church and needed to get going with my life.  My friend was still at it, working on hotrods and other cars in his garage at home. He talked me into building a T-Bucket (see the pictures in my Photobucket).  It was built from scratch starting with a 20’ length of steel box tubing.  It had a 350 with a Powerglide transmission.  Real fun car.

Moving ahead some more:  I got married and we started a family.  After kid number two was born, we sold the T-Bucket, and started remodeling the house we had purchased a couple years before.  So then the next eight years I was focused on family and fixing up the house.

Our family grew to five kids when we had twins!  The 1200 square foot two bedroom house was already too small and we needed to move.  We looked around and found a piece of land that belonged to a friend of my Brother-in-law.  We bought the land and built a modest new home big enough for our family.  Then we had our sixth and final child.

Being that the work on the house was all done and no real pressing need to do any remodeling, I decided to get another car.  With eight of us, I decided I wanted something that all of us could ride in at the same time and not try to decide who got to go with Dad next.  I remember seeing a short bus that was hot-rodded in Streetrodder magazine when I was building my T-Bucket.  I had kept it in the back of my mind all those years. 

So the short bus hunt was on and I found it only a couple hours from my house.  I towed it home. It sat for a while but worked on it every chance I could get and when funds would allow. 

So far I have rebuilt and installed a fresh Chevy 454. The old rear axle gears were 6.17s and wound that motor out. So I found and put in an axle with 4.63 gears and disc brakes from a 2001 Chevy HD3500.  It had the same bolt pattern for the wheels, too.  Now that engine and bus speed are better.

I have it at my friend’s shop he opened a few years ago to get some much needed assistance.  I cleaned up the outside and inside paint scraping the rust and treating areas.  It’s sprayed in black primer right now and will stay that way until I move on to the real bodywork. 

I just started installing the new wiring harness this past weekend. 

I acquired a TH400 transmission to go in it in a couple of weeks and the new exhaust will be 3” single running through a single semi-truck turbine muffler.  Should sound pretty good too! 

I have had the involvement of all of my kids throughout the entire project -- cleaning parts, tearing out old stuff, installing new, fetching wrenches, and just otherwise having a great time working together on it.  The details going into it are as follows:

  • Flat Black body paint with red trim pieces that match the engine and transmission
  • White cap roof
  • Red Engine and transmission with flat black engine details
  • White wheels with red brake hardware you can see through the five hand holes as the wheels are turning
  • Black vinyl interior with red piping trim
  • Gray ceiling paint with a charcoal carpet
  • Sound system will be 4-6 6x9 speakers and an amp to power them from a simple cd player/tuner up by the driver
  • And finally, I’ll be pulling out some leaves from the very tall and ridged stock suspension to soften the ride and lower it about 4” and give it a 2” hot rod rake.

All of this just so we can go hotrod cruising as a family and to car shows.  The kids are 18 (just graduated from HS), then 16, 13,  10 (twins) and my youngest is 7.  All are very much involved in the work. 

The bus is physically located about 45 minutes away from home -- between home and work. So I just stop and work on it for a couple hours several nights a week. My wife is very supportive of me doing that right now so we can enjoy it this year.

I have been on the Stovebolt site for some time and have found that the people here are just awesome. They have been a tremendous help in getting more done on my bus. I have been researching and asking so many questions. The feedback and information has been very valuable and useful. Thanks ALL.

More than happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to post them in the DITY forum where I'll post updates on the Hotrod Bus!,



13 December 2008
# 2480

From Fred :

Here is my newly acquired 1956 Chevy School Bus with a Superior body. I plan on making this a family cruiser.

I found this Chevy Task Force Bus on Craigslist. I had been looking for one of these for a while. I wanted a 1955-1957 because of the eyebrows. So when I found it, I got really excited.

I had a 1923 T-bucket that I built. But with a growing family, it got used less and less. So the bus was a viable solution to keep hotrodding a family sport.

Right now it is set up with a big block and original suspension. I am going to update the suspension and put in a Chevy 4.3L with a 700R4 transmission. This should make it run and drive real nice and comfortable.

I will only be giving it fresh paint and new interior, tint the windows, new wheels and tires and go driving. Maybe I'll add some other little things like new headlights and LED running and brake lights.

So there it is. I haven't actually gotten it home yet, but am very anxious to. Once I get it home and really start measuring the layout, I can update with more plans.


Fred Claridge
TOTE Fleet Supervisor


Love that Task Force look, and a bus, too. Sounds like you've got a great plan - for the whole family. Should make a great people hauling ... I guess that is what a bus is for! Good luck and keep us posted! ~ Editor


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