Restomod

Legacy Classic Trucks restomodded a 1937 Kenworth 706 Mount Rainier touring bus

This bus used to take travelers to Mount Rainier.

Photo courtesy of Legacy Classic Trucks

Visiting America's national parks has been a staple of American family life for more than a century. The Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and is one of the five oldest national parks - a list that includes Yellowstone, Yosemite, General Grant (now part of Kings Canyon), and Sequoia.

From 1937 to 1962, five 1937 Kenworth touring buses transported guests visiting Mount Rainier from the Winthrop Hotel in Tacoma and Olympic Hotel in Seattle to the park.

Art Redford purchased one of the buses in 1985. In 2009, Redford and Frank Pupo donated that bus to the Mount Rainier National Park. At the time of its donation, the Covington Reporter interviewed Redford and Pupo who told them that, "the coach is one of only five built by Kenworth between 1937 and 1938. Three still remain active, one in Sitka, Alaska, one in Montana and the one [they owned]."

Throughout the years, the duo allowed the park to use the coach to celebrate important events, including its Centennial inn 1999. Recently, Legacy Classic Trucks was given the opportunity to restore one of the original five models.

"Today, most people associate Kenworth with large format semi-trucks, but the company actually manufactured buses as part of its business back in the thirties," said Legacy Classic Trucks Founder Winslow Bent. "Decades have passed, but the Kenworth Mount Rainier tour buses delighted travelers for years and years. When we were presented with the rare chance to work on the bus, we knew it was just too cool to pass up. Our work at Legacy Classic Trucks is focused on giving workhorses like the Mount Rainier Tour Bus a new life, and we can't think of a more deserving vehicle. This tour bus has brought so much happiness to the world."

1937 Kenworth 706 - Mount Rainier

Photo courtesy of Legacy Classic Trucks

During its lifespan, the bus logged thousands of miles and visitors. As part of its restoration, Legacy Classic Trucks equipped the model with a six-cylinder Hercules JXD engine that they mated to the vehicle's original manual five-speed transmission. The bus now is able to produce 130 horsepower. The first three gears are all compound low gears that originally assisted in climbing and descending the steep mountain passes of Mt. Rainier. Legacy upgraded the bus with 20x6 Budd wheels and shoed it with Bias Ply Tires.

The long body of the bus had its rust repaired by Legacy and it was repainted its original flame red shade. It features retro-style gauges and instrument paneling designed to give a feeling of nostalgia. The bus's wood flooring is original to the vehicle.

The bench seating received an upgrade. The seats are now covered in leather made from 23 hides of imported Italian leather. In total, the bus can seat up to 18 people in the cabin. Ann open top canopy system allows passengers to see their surroundings while riding.

"Interestingly, the Mount Rainier Kenworth Bus was actually brought to us by a long-time customer who thought Legacy could have some fun with this project," continues Bent. "Restoring a classic bus like this takes an insane amount of work. A larger format vehicle demands an exacting amount of detail, so the restoration is more extensive. However, it was one of the most rewarding processes in our company's history, and Legacy couldn't be happier with how everything turned out restoring this bonafide piece of automotive history."

The fully restored Legacy Mount Rainier Kenworth Tour Bus is available now priced at $580,000.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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