The Zeb Lee Radio Bus
1956 23 Window Microbus
(Photo of the Bus when just a day old on it's voyage home)
So, off he went to the nearest VW dealer (many miles away in 1956) and bought a brand new 1956 Deluxe Microbus and brought it home.
The seats were removed from the back, and the conversion was started and in short notice they had created the very first vehicle of it's
time in the US...a fully self contained hi tech mobile broadcast vehicle. He started promoting it right away with postcards and mailers
and the response was strong. The vehicle was a hit and radio stations around the US started building similar machines. A trend was set.
(Zeb Lee ...in hat and engineer Bill Clements sizing up the space for the equipment)
Zeb Lee was an innovative guy and was very good at promotion
and such. He brought Elvis Presley to town early in his career
and rubbed elbows with many other celebrities. He became a bit of a celebrity himself in the community that he served, and even today,
years after his passing, signs of his work remain...even the local school stadium is named after him.
The Bus was something he was very proud of and he always kept
it well maintained and up to date, even when it wasnt being used regularly.
It has gone through a few changes over the years, each of them documented in photos, but in all it's 52 years it has travelled just 22,000 miles
and has always been stored indoors to keep the delicate broadcast equipment safe from the elements.
The original paint colors were Sealing Wax Red and Chestnut
For the first two years the original paint stayed intact with simple radio station logos in place.
In 1958 the colors were changed for a brighter and much more attractive appearance...the bottom being painted
in a pale yellow, the top remaining original brown.
Talk about gorgeous graphics!!
Circa 1962 ish...
The sunroof had it's advantages!
Another promotion image...
DJ at work!
In 1976 the Bus was involved in a collision in town and it was decided that it was time for an updated look and the colors were changed
to a dark blue on top and silver on the bottom...(which is the same paint it has today).
Here's Zeb with the Bus in the late 70's, early 80's
The station graphics changed a couple times over the next two
and in 1996, the AM station was sold and Zeb bought an FM station, WZLS "The Home of Rock and Roll" .
The station was short lived and the Bus went into storage shortly thereafter.
In October of 2007 it emerged from storage and made the trip to California where it has been revived and pampered and prepared for sale.
It is a true 1 owner car...always in the family since new.
Simply an amazing bit of history and a truly unique vehicle.
Here is the Bus as stored in the original owner's son's garage.
Very well preserved...barely a layer of dust..tires a bit low, battery long dead and just a bit stiff...but amazing.
Out in the sun for the first time in years
Here's a few key people in the Bus's history...
On the left is Buddy, the engineer that helped Zeb with the Bus early on and operated it for many years.
In the center is Zeb's wife and his son who told me the many stories of the adventures of the days of radio.
It was an amazing visit to be sure.
While it had been many many years since he had worked the equipment...Buddy got it all going pretty quick
and before we knew it the sounds of vintage surf tunes were coming through the speakers.
And believe it or not...the original back seats for the Bus that were pulled out in 1956...were stored
in the basement and kept all these years!
On the way out of town...a quick photo stop was made in front of the building that the Bus was photographed
back in 1958 with it's new graphics of the day.
The trip to California was uneventful and to wipe away a little boredom a few stops were made
for photo opportunities along the Mother Road Route 66.
Art Deco Route 66 Gas Station
Cattle like the Bus
And thats a bit of the story of the history and the discovery of the Bus...thanks for letting me share that with you...
Now... Are you ready to see the current day shots?