The world of custom RVs is a fabulous place. You’ll see everything from a colossal widened truck and an amphibious RV. I have a real soft spot for buses, and I’ve found one of my favourite yet. This 2003 MCI E4500 started life as a humble coach bus running charter duty. Now, it’s a glorious home on wheels with real lived-in experience and a storage basement turned into a bedroom.
I write a lot about school buses and transit buses here. I’ve owned both types of buses, and they’re both are a cheap and popular platform for RV conversions. However, the best kind of bus to turn into a rolling home is a coach bus. Sure, it’s not as cheap as a school bus, and you lose that ground clearance, but you gain something that’s comfortable to drive across the country in. You also get something that looks pretty classy.
Don’t believe me? Check out this 2003 MCI E4500.
For those of you who aren’t bus nuts, MCI stands for Motor Coach Industries. MCI’s history goes all of the way back to 1933, when it was founded as Ford Garry Motor Body and Paint Works Limited in Canada. Buses are all MCI builds, and if you’ve boarded a Greyhound at any time in your life, chances are you’ve ridden in a MCI.
Greyhound has been a major customer since MCI’s early days, and the two go together so well that at one point Greyhound bought the whole company.
And MCI’s buses became so synonymous with coach bus travel that as Randle Engineering — a suspension supplier for the E4500 — notes, the company had a 70 per cent hold on the North American coach market. You could even find clones of them in games like Grand Theft Auto.
The E series of buses like the one you see before you was launched in 1998. While the model is the boring E4500, these buses did get a cooler name: Renaissance. And these buses were a big leap forward.
MCI teamed up with BMW North America subsidiary Designworks for the design. The bus got clean lines, projector headlights, flush windows and a distinctive spiral staircase.
Later models would get traction control and a solid-link sway bar. Yep, traction control in an old big bus!
Aforementioned Randle Engineering had a hand in designing a suspension that allowed the bus emergency lane changes at higher speeds and for less suspension dive.
This particular E4500 was acquired in 2020 by David and Cara Williams. Before then, it operated as a coach for the Free Enterprise System. You’ve probably seen this company’s buses before painted in a groovy livery. Here’s what the bus looked like:
The Williams wasted no time in getting their new loot home and tearing it apart to build it into a cosy home. The couple has an Instagram page covering the whole build from start to finish.
I love the work put into this bus; it looks better than most things Indiana can churn out. The part that blows my mind is that this thing was put together over the span of just six months. That’s some awesome dedication right there.
I’ll let Cara take it away with the details from her ad:
Remember that RV that I wrote about last year where someone converted one of the “basement” storage compartments of an RV into a bedroom? This bus has one of those, but it was actually made into a real tiny bedroom.
As the couple’s Instagram shows, they’ve taken the finished bus all over the country, its ‘Wanderer’ livery shining bright wherever it goes.
Power for the 13.72 m bus comes from a Cummins ISM 10.8-litre inline six turbodiesel. This will have 330 or 350 HP depending on model. That goes through an Allison B500 automatic. Most spec sheets say that this should have a 719 l fuel tank, but the seller says it’s 454 l. Either way, at high single digit fuel economy (perhaps even 10 if you’re careful) you could cross multiple state lines before you need to refuel.
This article has been updated since publication.