The Partridge Family Bus: 70′s Awesomeness on Wheels

by Chevrolet in the News on March 18, 2010

Some may have fond memories of the Partridge Family television show, but most of us probably don’t. One of the most lasting and memorable images from this show was the 1957 Chevrolet bus that transported this quirky, wholesome, musical family.

As a refresher for those that missed out on the ’70s, the Partridge Family was a sitcom that from from 1970 to 1974. The show revolved around widow and her five children as they pursued their musical career.

The Chevy bus was purchased from a used car dealership in the the show’s pilot episode. The bright blocks of color that adorned the bus’ exterior were directly inspired by the Dutch painter Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan, aka Piet Mondrian.

This famous artist, born in the Netherlands in 1872 , probably never imagined his well-known artistic style would eventually grace the side of a school bus in a popular 1970s TV show. But interestingly, this style, which can be seen above, surprisingly fits the whimsical Partridge family.

While the bus were purchased in a used car lot in the show, it was actually acquired from the Orange County School District in reality.

Although the exterior paint job was arguably based on Mondrian’s Composizione 1921, it was never explained in the show why this middle class family from Southern California chose to Dutch proto-modernism exterior paint, rather than the traditional school bus yellow – after all, why mess with a good thing?

We’re always surprised by the lengths fans will go to express their devotion. Although we’re car enthusiasts here, we’re certainly not going to recreate Kitt from a Trans Am or turn a DeLorean into a time machine. So we’re still perplexed by the fact that someone had the time and money to express their love of the Partridge Family in such an astonishing way.

Here’s a moderately more modern take on the Partridge Family bus, but it lacks the period details and character of the 1957 Chevy bus.

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Cheap Chevrolet Cars March 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm

When it was introduced in 1935, the Chevrolet Suburban Carryall found a ready group of buyers among construction companies that needed to move work crews and schools that wanted a cheap, small bus for students. It was hardly the family vehicle of its time.

Charlie Williams

Chana April 17, 2011 at 4:25 am

I may be imagining this, but I think the paint job was explained on the show by saying that the family couldn’t afford anything but surplus paint.

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