Rubies of the Rockies to get refreshed
For more than 80 years, wide-eyed visitors to the Rocky Mountains have been treated to remarkable rides in iconic black and red buses. Now, these vintage heavy haulers are getting some high-tech help to keep them motoring along for decades to come.
The fleet of 33 White Motor Co. Model 706 buses operate in Glacier National Park in Montana. Seventeen were first put into service in 1936 with the rest leaving the factory through 1939. They hold a driver and 17 guests, spaced out on four rows of seats. Thanks to a unique rollback top, riders get unobstructed views of the scenery around them.
The buses were eventually painted red to match the color of ripe berries on mountain ash trees, which are found in the park.
While the look of these buses is timeless, their mechanicals are not. For 2019, Legacy Classic Trucks, a vintage truck restorer in Driggs, Idaho, will refresh the retro rigs, which are affectionately called the Rubies of the Rockies.
Each bus will get a new Ford chassis and Ford 6.2-liter V-8 engine, which features a pass-through hybrid electrical system that increases fuel economy and lowers emissions by up to 25 percent. The system features regenerative braking, too, recharging the vehicles' batteries during downhill descents.
Other upgrades include vintage-looking gauges (maintaining period-correct aesthetics) and taller wheels to replicate the 1930s units. While the buses are in the shop, each will undergo rust-repair and repaints as needed. The fleet was last updated around 2000, when they all received E-series van chassis and propane systems.
Each summer, the 33 buses transport an average of 60,000 tourists through the national park, racking up 10,000 miles.
Ford fastback truck kit
An iconic look for the Mustang was the early 1970s fastback, complete with rear window louvers. Now, thanks to Michigan Vehicle Solutions, truck buyers can have that retro styling, too.
This retrofit comes in the form of a painted fiberglass bed cap, called the Aero X, which mounts using bed clamps. Buyers get covered, waterproof storage and easy access to cargo, thanks to a lockable center lift gate, which pops open on two struts.
Other features include an interior headliner, tinted glass and an integrated third brake light. The company also states that additional "enhancements" can be made, including vented glass quarter windows and an integrated speaker system.
Currently, the Aero X is available for 2015 through current-generation F-150 pickups, but the plan is to roll it out to Chevy, Ram, Toyota and Nissan truck models. Pricing starts at $3,995.
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