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Red Jammers

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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Glacier National Park has a feature that car nuts will find fascinating: a fleet of 33 White Model 706 TEB buses.

These tour buses were built from 1936-1937 and play a significant role in the unique experience of Glacier National Park.

There were originally 35 buses, each outfitted with 94-horsepower Flathead 318 cid inline-6s and manual transmissions. The vintage sound of these 14-passenger buses used to be heard hauling tourists on guided tours over Logan's Pass on Going to the Sun Road as the drivers shifted the whining gears — a skill colloquially referred to as jamming.

I still remember that sound fondly from when I was a kid.

In fact, that became a part of the driver's nickname: Gear Jammers. And that nickname is a part of the bus's endearment as well: Red Jammers.

All the buses have the same red and black livery that they wore when they were built and dates back to the origins of the park in 1910 with the Great Northern Railroad.

Today, thanks to a number of groups, including Ford, they've been fully restored and retrofitted with updated bi-fuel V8 engines, automatic transmissions, and modern Ford E-450 chassis.

History plays a big part in Glacier, from the epic natural history of the geography and its broad, delicate biodiversity, to its importance for the cultures of the Native American tribes that call Northern Montana home; from the grand tree trunk-lined lodges, to the Great Northern Railroad that built those lodges and first provided access to the park for visitors from around the country in the early 1900s.

That rich history also includes the stunning Going to the Sun Road that opened up in 1932 so tourists had an easier way to experience the Great Continental Divide from their cars and the beautiful Red Jammer Tour Buses that can still be seen majestically rolling through Glacier National Park some 80 years later.

Ryan

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