Hershey | Lot 220

1925 White Model 15-45 Yellowstone Park Tour Bus by Bender



$88,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

7 October 2016

Chassis No.
  • One of 90 built for Yellowstone Park tours in 1925
  • Beautifully and authentically restored to original condition
  • A wonderful, fully functional conversation piece

45 hp, 226 cu. in. Type GR L-head inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, front beam and live rear axles with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, and rear-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 143.5 in.

The Yellowstone Park Transportation Company purchased a remarkable fleet of 90 open-air coaches from the White Company of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925. These massive vehicles, overbuilt to incredible standards and oversized radiators, were used to carry as many as 11 passengers on 4½-day excursions, up and down Yellowstone’s highest and most scenic peaks.

Most of the 1925 buses were retired, as new buses were acquired from 1936 to 1939. The majority of the retired buses were then sold to farmers, who modified them heavily for farm use. Ultimately, almost all of the buses were lost to history forever, as the chassis rusted away or were recycled. Thus, only a few examples remain of this historic bus fleet from the nation’s first national park.

According to the consignor, the bus offered here, chassis number 120545, operated at Yellowstone as number 310 and retains its original engine, as recorded in the Yellowstone Park records. Bodied by the Bender Body Company of Cleveland, it was acquired at the end of World War II by a family in northern Washington State, where it was stored until acquisition by the current owner. A full restoration then followed, with the wooden framework of the body reproduced using wood patterns from an original Bender bus body, and the outer panels, which had badly deteriorated, recreated in 22-gauge steel around the original steel cowl.

An original-type honeycomb radiator core was imported from England to return the radiator to like-new condition. The original White GR engine was rebuilt with new piston rings; the valves were ground and new valve guides were installed, while the connecting rods and main bearings were preserved and refitted. New 9 × 22-inch tires are mounted for the road. The transmission and rear end were inspected and serviced so that the entire vehicle could be returned to running and driving condition.

An electric starter was fitted, although the original hand crank remains available if the owner desires an upper body workout; the original vacuum-type fuel pump has been replaced by an electric pump, for ease of operation. The gas headlamps have been converted to electrical lights.

As the owner and restorer very proudly notes, “This bus always draws a crowd. It is the favorite for all age groups at parades, displays, and shows. The kids love the bright colors, big wheels, four rows of seats, and the ‘put put’ engine. The seasoned generation remembers riding in these buses on their visits to Yellowstone. Everyone in between appreciates the fine craftsmanship and machine-aesthetic design.”

A fascinating and beautifully restored survivor from an evocative era of tourism in America’s national parks, this authentic Yellowstone Park bus would be a wonderful addition to any collection, business, foundation or museum . . . or simply the best way to take the entire party out on the town!

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