HomePick of the Day1950 Von Dutch Bus

1950 Von Dutch Bus


Famed pinstripes Von Dutch worked and even lived in this bus
Famed pinstripes Von Dutch worked and even lived in this bus

No doubt, this is the most expensive vehicle ever offered for sale on ClassicCars.com: the Pick of the Day, a 1950 GMC bus formerly owned by Von Dutch, the famed automotive pinstriper, artist and fabricator who turned the bus into his workshop and home.

The bus has been restored, is located in Phoenix, and priced at $6.8 million or best offer.

“While visiting all the fantastic classic car auctions, you may wonder ‘whatever happened to the Von Dutch Bus?’” the advertisement suggests, and then answers the question:

“The one and only Von Dutch Bus was the studio/workshop/home of the father of the Kustom Kulture and originator of modern pinstriping, Kenneth Howard AKA Von Dutch. It has undergone an eight-year restoration, contains many unique and original items, and is now a fantastic investment opportunity.

“The appraisal on the Von Dutch Bus was done a little over three years ago by world-renowned appraiser Rick McLash, who estimates that in the next five to ten years the value would be ten to fifteen-million dollars.

“Several other famous Von Dutch pieces are also available.”

So what do you get for $6.8 million (or whatever best offer might be accepted by the private seller)? Well, you get a 1950 General Motors bus “fully restored” to “excellent” condition inside and out, with no mileage showing on the odometer after the restoration.

The advertisement says the bus still carries its original engine, an inline six cylinder, and that the engine is running.

The bus originally was used by Douglas Aircraft to transport staff within one of its assembly facilities in Southern California. There were reports that Von Dutch got the bus as payment for work he had done for a subsequent owner.

You may recall that the Von Dutch bus was offered for sale in 2007 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction.

Before being sold at auction, the bus had been sitting in a field near Santa Barbara, California, for some 20 years, had been vandalized (six bullet holes put into the bus by Von Dutch have been preserved), and was offered in as-found condition when it was sold at Scottsdale for $46,000.

According to a nearly 14-minute video linked to the advertisement on ClassicCars.com, soon thereafter automotive pin-striper Steve Kafka bought the bus for $200,000 and began its restoration, which he said he thought would be a six-month project but turned out to take six years.

In the video, Kafka notes that the bus traveled to nearly all of Steve McQueen’s movie sets, where Von Dutch was on hand to fabricate whatever props were needed as the filming occurred.

Kafka said his goal in the restoration was “to leave the impression that Dutch was just here and just stepped out for a moment.”

Additional videos and information on the bus are available at the www.thevondutchproject.com website.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. I miss you Daddy. Thank you Steve gor all your amazing work put into restoring my childhood memories. This is truly a dream come true.
    Lisa R Howard

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