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How Sand Springs' city busette came to be

Posted: 7:40 AM, Jan 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-14 15:57:06-05

SAND SPRINGS — Maybe you saw your Channel 2 friends roll past last month in the Tulsa Christmas parade aboard this delightful open-air bus.

It belongs to the Sand Springs Parks Department, but how it came to be in the first place, no one's quite sure.

"The title to the vehicle actually says 1957 Chevy Busette, but if you Google that or search for an image or even look for an open-air busette like this, you can't find one," Jeff Edwards with the Sand Springs Parks Department said.

Edwards is in charge of the Parks Department, and along with it, the busette.

"We'll get the honks, we'll get the thumbs-up, we'll get the wavin', we'll get the 'what kind of wreck did I just pass?" Edwards said.

It was found in the mid-1980s in a Sapulpa salvage yard by a past parks director.

The story goes he paid $800 for it.

And then it sat for another 20 years, protected under cover in Sand Springs until another parks director decided in 2005 that it ought to be fixed up.

With the city providing the supplies, work on the body, glass, tires, and wheels, paint, upholstery, and graphics were donated by businesses in town.

There was no instruction manual.

And there have never been power brakes or power steering.

"You really have to get on the brakes to get it to stop, no ABS," Edwards said. "Look how many times you have to turn it."

Though it came with a Chevrolet in-line 6 engine under the front floorboard since replaced with one from a Suburban, and a Chevy bowtie out front, and on the steering wheel and dashboard.

The odometer reads 26,712 miles.

Those may have just come from someone's '57 Chevy BelAir.

Because the thinking is that the busette came to life at Wichita's Boeing plant.

Custom-built with aircraft-grade aluminum and precise rivets, it may have been a hand-made way to shuttle visitors around the sprawling factory.

Chances are, we'll never know.

Now, all spruced up, it serves as a charming calling card for the city of Sand Springs.

And for Edwards, it provides a one-of-a-kind perch aboard a smile-inducing coach of quirkiness.

"Nobody else is driving this exact vehicle on the face of this Earth," Edwards said. "This is really neat right now, and then as you pass these people they're like, 'I've never seen a vehicle like that on the face of the Earth.'"

The busette is mainly used in Sand Springs for city-sponsored events, it never goes on a highway, and it is never driven over 30 miles an hour.

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