One of the most recognizable modes of public transportation in America is set to be refreshed. The Glacier National Park Red Bus Fleet, which debuted at the popular Montana tourist attraction in 1936, will be converted to a more environmentally friendly hybrid system by Legacy Classic Trucks of Driggs, Idaho, as part of a total fleet overhaul.
The shop specializes in restoring and modernizing vintage American vehicles. Legacy Classic Trucks’ past work has included 1930s-era Yellowstone buses, a Mount Rainer bus, and more than 100 classic Dodge Power Wagons.
Glacier National Park’s beloved 33 Red Buses—White Motor Company Model 706s—were put into service from 1936 to 1939. They are operated and maintained by Xanterra Travel Collection. The fleet was last updated between 1999-2002 via a collaboration with Ford, which included the automaker adapting the bus bodies to E-series Van chassis and propane systems. Since then, each bus has logged between 130,000 and 150,000 miles, averaging 10,000 miles per year.
Legacy Classic Trucks will restore and update each bus in the fleet during the park’s off-season months during the multi-year project. Every bus will get a new Ford chassis and Ford 6.2-liter V-8 engine. The powertrain will be bolstered by a pass-through hybrid electrical system that will increase fuel economy and lower emissions by up to 25 percent.
Legacy Classic Trucks also will also upgrade the busses to 19.5-inch wheels to replicate the how the original units looked in the 1930s. Similarly, retro-looking gauges will be added to give the buses a period-correct appearance. The bus bodies will undergo rust-repair and be re-painted on an as-needed basis.
Glacier was the first National Park to offer motorized tours, beginning in 1914. Since then, the Red Bus Tour is one of the most popular ways for visitors to see the park. The buses are driven by jammers, named for the noisy transmissions and gear-jamming sounds emanated by the original buses.
Learn more about Legacy Classic Trucks by visiting www.legacyclassictrucks.com or calling 307-734-6500.