Under construction: Randy Grubb’s Magic Bus

Randy Grubb magic bus

Randy Grubb is the mastermind and metalsmith behind a series of beautiful V-12-powered roadsters using bespoke aluminum bodywork. He garnered a lot of attention for building the oversized “Tank Car” that caught the eye of Jay Leno, who famously purchased the 1800-cubic-inch, air-cooled cruiser. Grubb’s Grants Pass, Oregon, shop has also spawned some two-wheeled runabouts that he calls Decopods, each wearing a handmade aluminum body. And his newest project, the Magic Bus, is a direct descendent from his DecoLiner, a double-decker RV built from a GMC motorhome chassis.

The DecoLiner made the rounds in 2012, and Randy has built several Decopods and a Falconer-V-12-powered roadster since, but now he’s back to building another streamlined Art Deco people mover. The Magic Bus began as three separate vehicles. The foundation is the chassis and powertrain from a GMC motorhome that uses a 455-cu-in Oldsmobile V-8 to drive the front wheels through a TH425 transaxle. On top of the frame is the front of a Divco delivery truck, and there’s a VW bus is perched on top.

This photo from early 2017 reveals the surgery done to the Divco. A GMC Motorhome is considerably wider, so the Divco’s sheetmetal was sectioned and widened in the cowl, windshield, fenders, and hood. The headlights were also shaved, in anticipation of teardrop lights that would later be mounted to the new fenders.
Brandan Gillogly
This photo from early 2017 reveals the surgery done to the Divco. A GMC Motorhome is considerably wider, so the Divco’s sheetmetal was sectioned and widened in the cowl, windshield, fenders, and hood. The headlights were also shaved, in anticipation of teardrop lights that would later be mounted to the new fenders.

Using a GMC motorhome brought several advantages. The front-wheel drive layout allows for a low floor and roomy interior compared to a rear-wheel drive configuration that would have to be built atop a driveshaft. The tandem rear axles are also novel, riding on a set of outboard trucks that keep the floor between them low and level.

Following the same construction method that he pioneered on the DecoLiner, the body of the Magic Bus is supported by a skeleton made up three-quarter-inch aluminum ribs that were waterjet cut before the corners were rounded over with a router. The aluminum skin was then hand-bucked and riveted to the ribs.

Randy told us that, unlike the DecoLiner, the Magic Bus won’t have any overnight accommodations. Instead it will move to San Francisco, where it will serve as a very roomy limo—complete with a bar.

Randy Grubb’s Magic Bus in progress
Randy Grubb’s Magic Bus before welding
Randy Grubb began this project just over a year ago, and the latest photos show the tremendous progress that has been made. The VW Bus incorporated into the roof began as an 11-window model, but it has since been converted into a more Samba-like configuration with an upper row of windows. The new aluminum skin on the side and tapered tail show the lapped construction method.
Brandan Gillogly
Randy Grubb began this project just over a year ago, and the latest photos show the tremendous progress that has been made. The VW Bus incorporated into the roof began as an 11-window model, but it has since been converted into a more Samba-like configuration with an upper row of windows. The new aluminum skin on the side and tapered tail show the lapped construction method.