John Whitbread is a long-time wheelchair user who searched far and wide for an outdoor mechanized home that could accommodate him and his wife, who also uses a wheelchair. He looked at RVs but couldn't find himself a decent one. He looked at trailers and haulers, but the inclines were excessively steep and they didn't appear to be helpful. At last, he settled on something somewhat more remarkable – a bus. "I chose a bus with a wheelchair lift and made the inner parts the way I need it to be," he says.
After extensive searching, he discovered his optimal bus—one with a side lift rather than a back passage—on eBay. In January of 2017, he traveled to Atlanta to bring it home. Once the bus was home, he was able to start working on it. "I stripped down every one of the seats and took out every one of the nails, took everything off the floor and scrubbed out the dirt. I then covered the interior with some waterproofing and set out some tongue in groove plywood," he said. "It was shabby. Just two or three hundred bucks."
From that point, he placed a bed at the back of the bus and manufactured cupboards and a little kitchenette. "With two wheelchairs, expanding floor space is vital. I can't have a path. I require space for my [wife] and I to move freely, each other in seats." For now, Whitbread isn't intending to introduce pipes or heat, but he says that could change.
Minimizing expenses was at the top of Whitbread's priority list; however, in the event that his restorations were under budget, he had always thought that he would paint the bus dark with chrome trim and combination wheels. That would change how others see the bus. Right now, he notes that people often still see it as a school bus when he drives it. "Children always wave at me," he says.
With just 130,000 miles, the bus will be useful for various travel. He says Mexico—where his wife is from—and Canada—where he is from—are both on his next travel goal list, as well as various shorter distance travel.