Dave Smith's

1949 GMC Panel School Bus

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20 October 2005

From Dave:

        Here's some pictures of my 1949 GMC Panel School Bus. It is a Saskatchewan school bus with a front passenger door opener operated from driver's seat and a message painted on the inside back doors that this is an "emergency exit only." On the firewall there is a simple stamp "1949."

        The panel came with no history. It came from someone who had gotten it in trade and then traded it to me for my '71 Commando. We were going to use it as a "kitemobile" for our kite business. Hasn't happened yet. It's been through many dreamed lives. The spirits are strong but the flesh is weak.

        I don't know how long the bus was in service or the rules around de-commissioning. Canadian prairie winters often see weeks on end of 30+ below Centigrade ... a real hardship on any vehicle. But they never used road salt in those days and machine sheds provided parking on most farms.

        The back passenger seats were gone, which would indicate it was likely used for cargo ... but it had not been painted. At least on the interior. No front passenger seat had been added. The driver-operated linkage for the passenger side front door is still connected. It still has the 6-volt system.

        I grew up with GMCs and Chevs in my family and was always comparing it to the competition ... the dreaded FORD. The two dealerships in town -- an unspoken and polite but committed social boundary.

        One of my first picture memories is of my Grandfather coming to retrieve me from the city in his '51 1/2-ton pickup and taking me to the farm. One hundred miles sitting on Grandma's lap and sticking my head out the window much like the pooch they'd left at home. Then many years of Chev pickups ... a new one every two years for as long as I remember. The only traces are in memory and pictures.

        So when I finally had an opportunity to own my own vintage GMC ... albeit never an exact part of my history but close, as my Dad had a '53 and then a '54 Chev sedan delivery which I loved, I took it on. I cherish that dream that I could some day be driving the prairie road allowances with enough picnic stored for the family for days!

        I had it running 15 years ago. With my son who is 13, I hope to be driving it again soon.

        It sits on the prairie in mid SK waiting for its trip North to within 13 miles of the end of the most northerly paved road in the province. This will be my first automotive project.

        I would be amiss not to say how much I enjoy The Stovebolt Page. It's great! I have often referred to it, especially for examples of my vintage panel, to learn what folks are doing. I continue to be amazed at the love of the "American Automobile" and the energy and money that expresses that love.

        Lots more to learn and good to have your website to assist.

        Thanks again for all your work!

Dave Smith
Air Ronge
Saskatchewan, Canada

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