’59 Mango Split


Martin had a double-cab back in the early 90’s when any split was a rare sight. Now, years later he’s back in the game, having imported this 1959 Mango from the ‘States. We won’t go into the history here, but just to say ‘it’s a good story’.

This first pic shows the bus as it arrived at our ‘shop (on a wagon, but on it’s wheels)

Actually, as you’ll see, Martin bought a pretty solid bus which had a WagenWest narrowed beam fitted, and a Freeway Flyer gearbox on straight axles amongst a few other bits.

So the aim of the job ahead was to weld in the necessary panels & sections, and give the mechanics a once-over, but without disturbing the years of ‘history’ that had made it’s mark on the bus. There’s some lovely patina, and some shocking damage -It’s all history -it all tells a story -it’s all staying!

She needed some brake pipework, a new 1/4-light latch & a few other minor things. The engine, we were assured had been run, but the battery was buggered and the condenser had packed up. We gave the ’59 a full engine service including new fuel hoses & went through the ‘not been started for years’ procedure to be on the safe side, and she now runs lovely and smooth, like only an old single-port does.


To the body… Rotten inner and outer sills. For a 57 year-old bus you expect a bit. We were the first folk to wave a welding torch anywhere near her, so she wasn’t bad at all.


The cab floor was rotting through in the usual places, as were the cab steps…


…and the rear jacking points & outriggers.


All the necessary panels were supplied by Autocraft, as they’re a good fit and quality. We puddle-welded the inner sills to the T-sections to keep the welds discreet, having painstakingly unpicked the original panels so as not to disturb the cargo floor along the nicely patina’d loading floor edge.


So here’s the repair in bare metal; lined up just right & spot-welded along the lower edge. We hand-fabbed some surrounding areas, such as the section in-front of the rear wheel…


…and, as we used cab floor outer repairs, the offside section was 6″ short of what was needed, so we hand fabbed the extra necessary middle-section, and also the little fiddly bits on and around the steps.


Someone, somewhere, sometime had one fucking big can-opener!

Ok, so the English weather, and perhaps the police won’t let us leave it completely open like that -we have a plan ;)

Cargo floor sections are being cut out in this pic.


New sections were dropped in, ground & painted. Our paint suppliers did a fantastic match to the original mango green -the floor colour was adjusted with white to bring it closer to the ‘dusted on’ colour inside the loading area. The paint on the un-repaired area of the floor was later cut back to blend in with the repairs & now looks pretty-much untouched.


Yes, it’s still caved in at the front! Martin didn’t want to lose that ‘story’, so the inner valance was repaired only where rotten & the outer panel was bare-metalled & repainted where a previous owner had already made a mess.

DSCN0237As we speak, the front ‘V’ still has the big blotchy D/A patches and the massive dent (actually caused by a tree growing up it!). The Mango paint is still due a ‘dulling down & blending-in’ session at this stage.

With the bus being a ’59 there’s no need for MOT tests, so feeling confident that we’d got her fully safe and sound -Road test!

She’s a pleasure to drive -just enough ground clearance for our shitty roads, feeling solid and sure-footed, but with that early bus feeling that has you smiling as you bumble along. Keep an eye out for this bus at the shows this year.