Home » Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines The Ultimate Autopian Tour Bus

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines The Ultimate Autopian Tour Bus

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It’s a lovely afternoon at Bland Pines Country Club, and the event organized by Big Three Car Company is in full swing to launch some mid-sized, mid-priced hybrid thing nobody will care about next week. A band plays light jazzy crooner songs in a white tent, while outside the journalists are mingling, drinks in hand. On the lawn an international correspondent is chatting up a fancily-dressed lady journalist. Mid-conversation, they both hear an approaching horn playing the first few notes of Red Barchetta, the nerdiest car guy song ever from the world’s nerdiest band.

“Oh, shit” says Fancy Lady Journalist knowingly, rolling her eyes. “Vat…vat eez dis noise?” asks the international correspondent. Lady sighs, “It’s just some losers that I used to work with.” Suddenly the whole driveway of the club is filled by a white 1981 General Motors RTS city bus covered in lurid graphics of cars and white guys. The bus crawls to a stop and hisses, lowering down to its haunches.

Side Clubhouse 1c988e14 5056 A36a 079dcff6fedf57b5

sources: (bus) Novabus  (background): Virginia.org

The double doors at the front of the bus swing open, upchucking an entourage led by a bearded, not-particularly-tall middle-aged man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a stylized ‘A’ under his (likely borrowed) sportcoat. “Don’t wreck it” he quips to the valet as he tosses him the keys.

What’s up, bitches! The Autopian has arrived.

If there is one thing that the Autopian seems to be lacking, it is a physical presence.  Unless I have missed something, there is no glass building called the Autopian Tower or even an office space between a fertility consultant and an immigration attorney in some professional center in Shaker Heights. While this does not necessarily affect the credibility of this site, the optics of a bunch of people working out of their basement are just not right.  We need to fix this.

Secondly, it would appear that the Autopian is getting out and about a lot lately; car shows, air shows, meet-ups. That’s a lot of airfare and hotel rooms, and if The Ones That Pay The Bills saw the finances they might want to suggest an alternative.

The answer is Autopian Mobile: something to give this website an actual place to call home, and one that isn’t locked into one location. This would be a flagship for the site, and an object to cover with that brand message.

The go-to suggestion as a starting point would have to be the Greatest Of All Time, the 1973-78 GMC Motorhome. Front wheel drive, spacious; the only issue is that they are getting exceedingly expensive, as their greatness is finally not lost on the public. Also, it’s starting to get – dare I say it – a little played out?

1977 Gmc Motorhome 1 E1580490427340

source: Barn Finds 

So what to do? Our own Mercedes Streeter might have the perfect basis… an RTS bus. This aerodynamic 1977-2009 masterpiece still looks fresh today, and while she understandably would likely not want to offer up her own bus for Autopian Mobile (uh, would you?), another example could be found.

Nyct Bus 1997 Novabus Rts 06 9449

source: wikipedia

Like the GMC Motorhome, any RTS still existing today would be a timebomb of mechanical issues, but that is actually the point. This is not a typical family camper or a rock band’s tour bus…for the Autopian, a catastrophic failure of a forty year old machine on the road would mean GREAT CONTENT… a million hits just like that. I mean, David standing in the engine bay, Jason hitching rides with questionable locals to get bus parts, Mercedes just shaking her head with disbelief of what these losers have done to her bus…this is how the Autopian Reality Show will be born. Comedy gold.

First, like those annoying HGTV shows, we need to get a list of needs and wants before designing the interior. There has to be space to eat, sleep, and more importantly do the work of keeping the hot content coming to the World’s Most Dangerous Car Enthusiast Website. Mercedes has even requested motorcycle storage/transportation space, so we’ll see if we can pop that in as well.

Img20220913 22433467

The front compartment would be a multipurpose area of sorts. There’s a ‘dinette’ that would also be used a conference or meeting table for the team to strategize the event or the stories of the day (if they actually did that). The table sits between two rows of facing seats; I was trying to think of the most comfortable bench seats imaginable that also had that mid-1970s modern look to them, and that answer was simple: Volvo 240 seats.  We can do a ‘prove me wrong’ on this but these are easily the most comfortable car seats ever made; you’re not gonna change my mind. The grid headrests just look so RIGHT with the RTS aesthetic. [Editor’s Note: There’s other good reasons, too. – JT]

To illuminate the worksurface, the answer is also pretty obvious- a chandelier made out of box taillights, right?  I mean, you’d have Beetle taillights above it and British Leyland side marker light lenses hanging down like jewels below. It’s so beautiful. Don’t worry; we’d secure it so it couldn’t swing and hit somebody.

Img20220913 22405600

Note that there is a wet bar and storage in front of the dinette, the primary reason being something that is plainly visible under the dog in the pic of Mercedes’s RTS bus- the wheel wells. You need to work around those creatively.

Untitled 1

source: Mercedes Streeter

Also, behind the wet bar there could be some storage space for things like fire extinguishers. And MORE fire extinguishers. I get the sense that these will be used more than the shower.

The opposite side of the aisle would be where the magic happens…two workstations for getting the stories out. The desktops are supported by Autopian logo-shaped floor to ceiling ‘ribs’, and Volvo seats to match the benches of the dinette would be on sliding swivels bolted to the floor. Here we need to give a tribute to David and Beau with four 1965-66 Mustang taillights arranged in a ‘cube’ surrounding a bulb to create hanging pendant lights. A flip down flat screen above is for conferences at the dinette, and a printer/scanner stand over the wheel well to create fake credentials with ease.

Img20220913 22423031

Further back is the kitchen area and bath on one side, and bunks on the other. Sliding curtains maintain privacy; I considered engraving the initials of the founders on the walls next to the bunks like Bert and Ernie’s beds in Sesame Street but though better of it.

Outside, vinyl graphics would be ideal advertising but also be removable to not hurt the value of this piece of history. A fold out awning on one side could be added to create a shaded destination space to meet and greet crazed fans (“oh my God…I just touched Torch….my psoriasis is gone!!”) or more likely to work on the latest Lemons race car.

Think of it- a way to get the Autopian name out there and stay productive on the road. You’re not gonna see The Drive staff with one of these, boy. Of course, the whole Autopian staff won’t fit in this thing, which is fine because the real auto designers are frankly too cool to be seen in a Carter-era public transporation device billboard. Those guys will follow in motor coaches designed by the guy that penned the split window Corvette and the first Grand Cherokee, painted in a shade of Bella Ligos’s Dead Black chosen by one them:


source: ICMD

This vehicle would take on a life of its own; cartoon drawings of this ‘mascot’ vehicle by Jason would be all over the site. A paper cutout could be available in the latest vinyl wrap, so that any Autopian fan could waste time building their own ’81 RTS to put on a desk or hang from the rear view mirror to show solidarity.


source: The Bishop and Paper Bus Connection

Despite the practical advantages of Autoipian Mobile, something tells me that this whole thing is a bad idea. A few sleep deprived lunatics at the wheel of 30,000 pounds of forty-year-old vehicle.

God help us all.

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76 Responses

  1. A few points:

    1) “oh my God…I just touched Torch….my psoriasis is gone!!” made me laugh out loud.

    2) The bathroom listed as “bunk” had me envisioning someone fast asleep, and DT walking in and saying “don’t mind me…” before dropping a Spanfeller.

    3) The chandelier hangs so low that meeting would involve seeing no one across the table from you.

    4) With this crew, some provision for wrenching is important, even if it’s an awning and a roll-out mat.

    5) Some form of speakers should be added to play “Love Theme from ‘The Autopian'” at semi-reasonable volumes.

    6) I think I know the identity of the fancy lady journo. And I think she would join them for a perfectly chilled glass of Chateupian Torché Brut without batting an eye.

    1. Rollin Hand- about the chandelier, if you were on the road with JT and DT, would you really want/need to see their faces at every meeting or meal?

      Yes, this would likely be the cool hangout for all Jello Picnic alum. Until events realize that Autopians are getting into event on Torch-fabricated badges. And the fridge is full of shrimp cocktail stolen from the food tents.

      1. The Bishop – I would. I am also tall, so I am more sensitive to things like hitting my head on chandeliers.

        As for the badges and the shrimp, I fail to see anything morally wrong with either as long as you have enough cocktail sauce.

        1. I should also add that I think this is just an awesome idea. Imagine rolling up to the Detroit Auto Show in this thing. This thing wpuld be the most popular media presence at the show.

          And think of the YouTube hits for build videos!

          1. Rollin Hand- also was imagining pink neon underneath. Also imagined a smoke generator for added effect but I get the feeling that a 300,000 mile bus will not need an auxiliary smoke generator.

    1. Now I am envisioning you in the giant boots taking giants strps around the Pebble Beach Concours enthusiatically saying “STOMP! STOMP!”

      Not saying it would happen. It’s just how my mind works.

      1. Hah! I went to snooty Salon Prive at Blenheim palace once, dressed looking like I’d come of stage. Velvet jacket, black shirt, tight black skull print trousers, calf high patent boots with buckles all the way up the side. Hey, I wasn’t breaking the dress code!
        Pretty sure I popped a few monocles and caused the lawn to be watered with expensive champagne that day.

  2. I can’t see the back end, but does it have a dinghy hoist style mechanism so that an additional small, likely non-U.S.-market vehicle can be transported around??

    1. I’m wondering if you could tow TWO Smart cars behind it, side by side.
      Hmm, better check the numbers. RTS buses seem to be 2.5-2.6m wide, and a Smart is about 1.6m, ok, that doesn’t fit. Two Smarts towed one behind the other I suppose.

      1. The Changli should be on a special front mount, like the mermaid on the bow of a tall ship.

        Picture the bus traveling at highway speeds with Torch inside, silver paint on his teeth, screaming to be Witnessed.

    1. That was the other site’s perfect car until the take over.

      Now it is a car enthusiast site that hates all things automotive and loves ads. At least that is what I saw the last time I visited.

      1. I still like jalopnik. I also use brave browser though so that probably helps. But as far as actual car news this site doesn’t really keep up and they do.

      2. God it was getting terrible when I quit visiting. Maybe we need to christen a dream car for this site? A sub 50 hp, two seat, tin can? Manual of course.

  3. I like the idea and you feed into taillight obsession. Add some rust (even painted on) and you have a thing of beauty.

    Interesting that the bathroom is called Bunk. Is that for the non paying customers or those in a time out?

      1. That is very true. And think of the time savings for the middle of the night runs.

        Of course people would have to wake him up to use it or things will get very uncomfortable for all parties.

      1. If he goes to the Great Junkyard in the Sky from the Deni Ute Muster, is he still technically working? Or is “on the job” based on blood alcohol/nudity level?

        1. Mercedes- we never said you couldn’t! You are the least of our worries. We’re talking about a vehicle retired after being driven several hundred thousand city miles and then put back into shape by guys that fix cars with rocks and hose clamps.

  4. “If there is one thing that the Autopian seems to be lacking, it is a physical presence. Unless I have missed something, there is no glass building called the Autopian Tower or even an office space between a fertility consultant and an immigration attorney in some professional center in Shaker Heights.”

    I’m looking to lease space, and Shaker Heights ain’t a bad neighborhood.
    Hilariously… there is such a professional center in Shaker Heights. I’m sure of it.

    Anyhow… I would counter that an RTS is absolutely the wrong vehicle for the Autopian crew. Sorry not sorry. The design is great and I am positive 100% buildable. It’s just not big enough!

    See, the RTS maxes out at 40 feet with a high floor. There’s no room for luggage or merchandising. And you can barely get two motorcycles in there. That simply will not do at all. We need an articulated bus with a coach front section. With a mid-engine pusher configuration, this allows the use of the entire rear section as a garage which can fit the Changli, several motorcycles, and a Smart with ease.
    Perhaps a SOR NBH 18 rear with a CN12 front?

      1. nobody said that an upper floor had to be indoors. Flat platform (with holes to clear the roof AC units), fold up ladder and fold up side rails, tiki torches and collapsing grill. Now where the party at?!?!

        1. Bishop, my friend, come on. This is me we’re talking about.
          Reinforcing the roof to have parties on top? No, no, that’s just asking for trouble. Somebody’s gonna spill beer in the A/C (probably me,) the shrimp will roll under the decking (definitely not me,) and just think of what Kristen of the Many E’s will say about mere tiki torches. (shudder.)

          Now, deleting the roof? THAT’S a good idea.
          But we’re gonna need something we can actually afford. Do not ask what classic Routemasters cost. No, seriously. Not happening. So we’re gonna have to go to mainland Europe and obscure US municipalities.

          VDLs are way too new even if they look a lot like an RTS. And we are so not doing anything with split-rim wheels – so no MAN SD200’s! (Also they’re awful.) Which leaves us with… Volvo/Leyland Olympian! You know those stupid “New York Sightseeing” buses with the open top? That’s the crappy one.
          We want a Leyland Olympian with a Walter Alexander body.


          1. rootwyrm- I actually looked at removing the roof, since with an open top if I made the paper toy bigger it would then be open on top and be a holder on the desk for my pens

            1. With your aesthetics, my engineering and ability to find nearly anything, Beau’s checkbook, Mercedes’ bad ideas, Torch’s interior decorating, and David’s… uh… testing the Scotchgard, this cannot possibly fail!

              … well besides th-hang on. (sounds of welding) Okay, NOW it ca-damnit, you didn’t tell me Jason was bringing that, hang on. (+1 alternator) How did David do th-nevermind, nevermind. (+1 automatic fire suppression system) There. Now it’s do-IT’S A 55,000 POUND BUS I ASSURE YOU IT WILL GET STUCK IN THE MUD! (6″ bus lift kit and mudder tire set listed on eBay, autographed to increase value.) And I am not designing an automatic mimosa dispenser! Go find one on Alibaba or something! (You know who!)

              But we’ll have to make sure Adrian doesn’t get the keys. He’d either put 36″ wheels on it (no srsly, bus wheels are 20″+) or just drive it straight into 12foot8.

                1. I know you’re British, so I must ask: were you the engineer or the fireman? Did you feed the fire with special Welsh coal? Does the ghost of Rev. Wilbert Awdry still haunt your dreams?

                  1. Actually it was subway trains in London (The Tube). I was both a guard (fireman, I guess?) on the very old trains when I started, and then a driver (engineer) later on. Only managed about two years before I got fed up with it.

      2. I TOTALLY was going to say Neoplan but they only built a couple dozen of those. Just too hard to get. That’s also why I didn’t go with Orion-Ikaruses so we could build a Brown Manual Diesel Wagon. Plus, Neoplan kind of uh… yeah… bus frames and suspensions noted for routinely cracking in the first 3 years of service, not good.

        But SOR? They’ve built hundreds of those!
        Or a GM P8M-49056A with the middle tag axle. Or maybe a Scania K280 – those are only like $10k! But you would have to distract Beau every time I send an invoice. Certified welders to reinforce the frame aren’t cheap.

  5. “oh my God…I just touched Torch….my psoriasis is gone!!” – pure genius

    Loving the taillight chandelier and lighting, which leads to a serious question for Torch – would your wife let you decorate your home with such delights?

    1. I touched Torch when I took the blood oath upon being hired. I won’t tell you what it cured, but I’ll no longer need those expensive creams that have to be kept in the fridge.

  6. Clearly designed by an engineer loaded up on Jagurmiester. Apparently a printer/scanner area needs more room than a driver. There are several desks and if I can believe what I’ve heard you young people can sit anywhere and punch out a story on that there internet thingy. Hinky bus but not dedicated tool section. Reminds of designs that need the motor removed for an oil change. Of course the more I read the serious lack of maintenance by car site journalists the more I understand designed nonaccess areas.
    Funniest thing I see here that they refuse to do to get accepted is no 2 way contact. Read us comment about us but don’t contact us. We want your clicks but we don’t wish to interact with the masses. And this perception is totally wrong. DT and JT provide email links. They often respond directly to emails despite how busy they are. But the staff just like every other so called news site has blocked off communication with their readers. If I were a car influencer or blogger or whatever they call themselves here I’d provide a contact source that includes a follower status. Blocking fans is blocking profit.

    1. Dave- I’ll have you know that I’m not even close to an engineer, and I’m actually hopped up on Diet Coke. Third one so far today.

      Also, when you say ‘young people’, be aware that some of us at the site are very, very much not young people. It doesn’t mean that we are wiser.

  7. Also, Matchbox size is a bit too small to build. The tabs at this size were nearly impossible to bend and glue. Plus don’t you want a bigger one for your desk? Let your Autopian freak flag fly!

  8. The garage area should contain a full compliment of tools and the best Harbor Freight jackstands money can buy for repairs of the bus and various Concours cars.

  9. See and here I thought of something slapped together with random bits like what I’m thinking of making from some of my spares, a 1997 dodge 4×4 v10 truck sans body, a 1949 REO farm truck cab and nose, and my 1966 terry travel-pak 16 foot trailer. Put them together and really look like the beverly hillbillies.

  10. You forgot room for the mainframe-which I strongly suspect is actually 1024 abaci operated by 64 slightly deranged flying squirrels fed only on high-grade peyote. Oh, and the dish(parts)washer.

    1. It’s actually an old Soviet 486 clone running a bizarre Uzbek Linux build. Unfortunately it weighs the same as several anvils so we’re trying to find a more portable solution.

  11. I’m torn between “THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN!!!” and “WHY HASN’T THIS HAPPENED ALREADY???!!!”

    Perfect concept, perfect canvas available (rootwyrm’s valid proposal notwithstanding)–GET ON WITH IT!!!

  12. Needs a trailer. I’m picturing a trailer that has a small enclosed portion( think tiny house version of a workshop) complete with small welder, various tools/fluids and then a car hauler portion on the back to haul whatever vehicle David or Mercedes find while on the road. The seating should be easily removable. That way when you pull up and park you bring your living room out end enjoy whatever locale you are in. Lastly, the roof needs to be reinforced and function as a makeshift deck. That way you can look down upon all of the plebeian ground-dwellers. It also serves as a place to invite the most important guests and sponsors (Band-aid, and Blaster). The livery should be ComVee ala The Wild Thornberry’s.

  13. This… this is one of the very best bad ideas I’ve seen here yet. I think we need to source one of the LED “bus line identifier” signs and have it show realtime hit counts on the site. I’m also loving the fact that the bathroom is classified as a bunk, which may be too much realism. I get tree fiddy to throw at this project, hit me up.

    1. This fancy lady has probably heard about how DT ate free caviar at Monterey. After that scary story she wouldn’t be able to put enough distance in between her and this free-caviar-eating monster.

      1. Or, for those of us without printers, print it on thin card stock and sell it to us. As it mails flat, your costs shouldn’t be very high. An easy money-maker, I would think: I’d certainly buy one-several if available before stocking-stuffing season

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