The almost 100-year-old custom bus walked off with top honors from judges.
Arkansas was the latest state to host the Hot Wheels Legends Tour this past weekend, as the search for the ultimate custom vehicle continues. We were given a taste of what to expect at the event and were rather besotted with the Chrome Spaceship, a science fiction-inspired creation based on a humble Mazda MX-5 Miata.
However, judges were clearly more impressed by the 1927 Wayne Ford School Bus, a near-century old custom vehicle with a 500-horsepower secret jutting out of its hood. The remarkable build is the brainchild of Marcus and Jackie Andrews who built the project at their home, with their own hands.
It's certainly not your average school bus. The patina-look is remarkable, giving this rat rod a distressed appearance. Further aesthetic appeal comes courtesy of the air suspension system which allows the 95-year-old vehicle to be dropped down at the flick of a switch.
The most eye-catching aspect of this former kid hauler can be seen at the front. The couple intentionally designed it to look as if the sizeable powertrain is trying to escape from its confines. The considerable 500 horsepower is afforded by the supercharged V8 that lives under the hood - if it was still used as a school bus, kids would be clawing away at the chance to be dropped at the gates in this.
Inside, the owners have taken the school theme to the next level. A neat touch comes in the from of the apple gear lever (provided by the teacher's pet, no doubt) and a collection of vintage lunch boxes perched atop the luggage racks. Elsewhere, several children's books and simple bench seating complete the look. In terms of excitement, it beats your average Ford Transit Passenger Van shuttle hands down.
As the winner of the Arkansas event, the Wayne Ford School Bus is one step closer to victory. For now, however, it will have to contend with some pretty impressive competition, including Tiny Toot - a monster truck based upon a Japanese Kei car - and this exceptionally tidy Nissan 240SX.
The winner will go on to have their cherished ride immortalized in toy form. Every year, Hot Wheels takes the best and turns it into a 1:64 replica. Last year, honors went to "Ain't No Saint", an incredible 1969 Volvo P1800 that captured the hearts and minds of the Hot Wheels community.
The 1927 school bus certainly has what it takes to clinch honors; it's an inspired piece of design that's unique and, what's more, it was built by two car-loving individuals. We're looking forward to seeing what wins in November when the grand finale takes place.