A 4×4 skoolie can be one of the most capable off-road machines while being one of the most accommodating custom off-grid living RVs to build. Building a 4×4 school bus conversion can remove the remaining limitations that a stock school bus might have in certain areas of the world.
Over the last few months, we have been exploring the idea of building a 4×4 school bus conversion. We are tossing around the idea of building an extremely capable 4×4 skoolie that can handle traveling safely to any destination, at any time of year.
In this guide, we will cover:
- Quigley 4×4 School Bus Conversion (currently available)
- Electric Quad Motor 4×4 School Bus Conversion (custom build)
- 4×4 School Bus For Sale on Skoolie Livin Classifieds
Special Note: We are not affiliated with and not have been in contact with Quigley, Blue Bird, or any other company prior to writing this article. This article is written for informational purposes only and to share options for school bus conversion to be converted into a 4×4 skoolie. Please contact any company directly for detailed information.
How to Build a 4×4 School Bus Conversion
A 4×4 school bus conversion is created by converting a standard rear-wheel drive school bus into an all-wheel-drive school bus with components provided by a few companies providing the parts and services.
The rear-wheel-drive to 4×4 conversion can be done by yourself, but if you are not really a mechanic you might want to have this conversion done by a professional since it will be a complete overhaul to almost all of the components in the drivetrain, axles, brakes, and suspension.
Types of School Buses Best for 4×4 Conversion
The easiest type of bus to convert would be van chassis short school bus 4×4 conversions, as there are services already on the market that can support these van chassis school buses.
If converting a larger school bus on a truck chassis, such as a mid-size or full-size school bus, this would need to be a custom 4×4 conversion. This would most likely be more expensive than it is worth.
Quigley 4×4 School Bus Conversion
Quigley is the most well-known 4×4 van conversion company, but most of their components will work to make 4×4 short school bus conversions since short buses use the same chassis as many of the vans Quigley supports. These include vans chassis such as the Chevy Express, Ford Transit, and Ford E-series vans.
So far, we have had one Quigley 4×4 school bus conversion listed on the Skoolie Livin Classifieds, which was the original inspiration for me to venture down this path for a new project.
Our take on Quigley – If Sarah and I are to kickoff this 4×4 short bus school bus conversion idea that we have been – I guess… I have been – pushing to do, we would most likely try to partner with Quigley to do the 4×4 conversion. I have heard nothing but good things about the company and the pricing looks reasonable. Also, they have an awesome list of other upgrades that can be done during the 4×4 conversion process.
Quigley 4×4 School Bus Conversion Pricing Summary
The pricing below is for reference only as of May 2022 to potentially be capable on school bus conversions. Please see Quigley4x4.com for more information on capability of converting a specific school bus and updated pricing.
Chevy / GM Quigley 4×4 School Bus Conversion
|Chevy / GM – Pre-Owned/Used 2014-2022||$|
|4×4 Van 4.8L or 6.0L Gas and CNG|
CNG must be ordered with 155” Wheel Base
|4×4 Van 4.3L or 6.6L Gas, 2.8L or 6.6L Diesel||$13,495|
|4×4 Cutaway 139” WB, SRW/DRW 6.0L Gas|
SRW must be ordered with option code JFF
|4×4 Cutaway 139” WB. SRW/DRW 4.3L or 6.6L Gas|
SRW must be ordered with option code JFF
|4×4 Cutaway 159”,177” WB 6.0L Gas||$13,595|
|4×4 Cutaway 159”,177” WB 4.3L or 6.6L Gas||$14,245|
Ford E-Series 4×4 School Bus Conversion
|Ford E-Series – 2016-2023 Pre-Owned/Used||$|
|4×4 Cutaway E-350 Single Rear Wheel|
158” wheelbase required with 6.8L or 7.3L motor and 6-speed transmission
|E-350 & E-450 Dual Rear Wheel|
158”-190” wheelbase required with 6.8L or 7.3L motor and 6-speed transmission
Ford Transit 4×4 School Bus Conversion
|Ford Transit – 2015-2019 Pre-Owned/Used||$|
|4×4 Van & Cutaway 3.7L Gas SRW||$13,145|
|4×4 Van & Cutaway 3.5L Ecoboost Gas & 3.2L Diesel SRW, 3.7L Gas DRW||$13,645|
|4×4 Van & Cutaway 3.5L Ecoboost Gas & 3.2L Diesel DRW||$14,145|
Electric Quad Motor 4×4 School Bus Conversion
Taking skoolie a step further is converting either a standard combustion or a new electric school bus into a quad motor 4×4 school bus conversion.
I have no idea of the feasibility or cost of doing this, but it interests me enough that I will probably start talking to a few companies to see if this is possible.
My idea is having the power and range of the new quad-motor electric Rivian trucks, but with a school bus body.
As we discussed in our Electric School Bus article, electric school buses are starting to make their way to schools. I have been considering trying to hunt down a short electric school bus, but currently the average range on a full charge is about 130 – 140 miles on electric school buses with a charging time of up to 8 hours, which is obviously not ideal for cross-country traveling.
As battery technology advances, the range will increase on electric school buses. The vehicle-to-grid capability of these larger buses with massive battery packs is also appealing to me, as you could potentially make money by passively allowing the power grid to store and consume energy from the battery in your skoolie. However, there still needs to be some more data testing done on how much this consistent usage depletes the battery life of the vehicle.
Until then, I will realistically be looking to converting a combustion engine school bus into a 4×4 skoolie – most likely doing a 4×4 Quigley school bus conversion.
4×4 School Bus for Sale
Below are the current 4×4 school bus for sale options on the Skoolie Livin Classifieds as of May 2022.