Not all yellow buses are school buses. This 1936 White Model 706 once shuttled tourists around Yellowstone National Park, but its most recent stop was at Jay Leno’s Garage.
While similar models are still in service (with some modifications) at National Parks, this 16-passenger bus was acquired and restored by Winslow Bent, founder of Legacy Classic Trucks. He previously showed up at the garage with a six-wheeled Dodge Power Wagon.
White was founded in 1858 as a manufacturer of sewing machines, but branched out into steam cars, some of which became the first official White House cars. The company gradually shifted away from passenger cars to larger vehicles, making everything from World War II half-tracks to buses like this one.
1936 White Model 706 Yellowstone tour bus on Jay Leno’s Garage
Similar to modern commercial trucks, White supplied only the cab and chassis, leaving customers to seek out a supplier for the body. This bus has a body by Henri Binder, a coachbuilder who also made bodies for luxury cars like Duesenberg and Hispano-Suiza. The distinctive grille and narrow hood were supplied by White, however.
Underneath that hood sits a 318-cubic-inch inline-6 producing what Bent estimates to be 120 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot of power for such a large vehicle, but this flathead engine is very quiet, Bent noted. So it won’t scare the wildlife.
The transmission is an unsynchronized 4-speed manual, earning drivers the nickname “Gear Jammers.” The transmission isn’t the only thing that needs to be finessed, as the four-wheel drum brakes weren’t designed for emergency stops.
One of 150 bought by the federal government, this bus accumulated 600,000 miles in tourist-hauling service on mostly unpaved roads. It’s remarkable that there was enough left to restore after that. The body is wood, while other components are a mix of steel and aluminum prone to corrosion through galvanic reactions.
The streets of Los Angeles might not be as scenic as Yellowstone, but this restored bus still makes for an impressive sight. Check it out in the embedded video.