’59 Mango Split

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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.


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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.


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


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…and the rear jacking points & outriggers.


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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.


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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…


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…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.


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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.


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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.


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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.