- This 1925 White Model 15-45 served as a tour bus in Yellowstone National Park, and must be hand cranked to start.
- A 50-horsepower inline-four is under the hood, and the bus can hold up to 11 passengers.
- There are six days until the Bring a Trailer auction ends, with bidding currently at $7500.
The bright Kodachrome colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring. The spray tower erupting from the Old Faithful Geyser. Herds of rugged bison moving across lush fields of greenery. Yellowstone National Park—comprising land in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho—contains some of America’s most stunning natural scenery. These days you can tour the park from the climate-controlled comfort of your car, but in the early 20th century visitors were driven around the park in buses like the one you see here. This 1925 White Model 15-45 is one of 214 11-passenger buses used by the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, and it’s now up for auction on Bring a Trailer—which, as Car and Driveris part of Hearst Autos.
The Yellowstone Park Transportation Company (YPTCo) was created in 1898, 26 years after President Ulysses S. Grant signed the congressional act protecting the land. The company initially used horse-drawn carriages, but after acquiring the exclusive rights to transportation at the park in 1916, the YPTCo employed a fleet of sightseeing vehicles from the Cleveland, Ohio-based White Motor Company. (White’s early vehicles used steam power, and two sitting presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, were owners.) The Model 15-45 joined the fleet in 1920, and White would go on to build buses for various national parks —including Yosemite and Grand Canyon—through the late 1930s, with Glacier still offering tours in its vintage people carriers.
This 1925 White 11-passenger bus is motivated by an inline-four that was rated at 50 horsepower back in the day—whatever ponies are left are sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual transmission. The 15-45 requires the use of a hand crank to start and rides on a front beam axle and a live rear axle with leaf springs. The driving controls look similar to those of the Ford Model T, with three pedals, a floor-mounted shift lever, and stalks that control the throttle and spark timing on the steering wheel.
The 11-passenger body, from an Ohio-based coachbuilder called the Bender Body Company, has four doors on the right and false doors on the left, designed to keep passengers from getting off in the middle of the road. A spare tire sits next to the driver’s seat and a tan trunk is strapped to the back of the bus.
After its tour of duty in Yellowstone, this bus spent its years in Arizona and Montana, with the engine believed to have been rebuilt in 2009 just before the seller purchased the vehicle. Under the current owner, the White Model 15-45 also received a repaint in the original YPTCo livery, a replacement canvas top and a re-trim of the black vinyl seat. The giant Goodyear tires show signs of dry rot, and there are other signs of corrosion, but this amazing piece of history is in solid shape for a nearly 100-year-old vehicle. If you want to experience the outdoors in style, there are six days left in the auction, with bidding currently at $7500. Just remember that there are no windows, so don’t get too close to the bison or the bears.