When London agency Hue & Cry came to us with the unusual project to turn an iconic bright yellow American school bus into a touring bar for Brooklyn Lager we couldn’t wait to get our teeth stuck in. The combination of creative thinking, high spec detailing, modern technologies and the drive to deliver something new is what we do best here at PDS.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
With only two weeks to take it from rusty school bus to sleekly branded bar-on-wheels, our first task was to build a giant marquee structure in our carpark to house the project. Once the tent was in place we got straight on to stripping and ripping out the bus interior, removing the upholstered seats and rotten timber floor. We also pulled out the panels, cabling, doors and fittings to take it back to just a metal shell. With the bus being a working school bus in Florida for over 21 years we were afraid of what we might find hidden beneath its murky brown leather interior. Luckily, we’re happy to report that our brave carpenters found nothing worse than the odd bit of chewing gum!
MAKE SOME SPACE
Our metal workers carried out substantial alterations to the roof to give extra head height and created a fold-down serving hatch on one side of the bus, all of which needed to stand up to the stresses of a summer-long tour of UK festivals and withstand whatever the British weather might bring.
WHAT A DIFERENCE
With the bus stripped out and the roof and side panel altered, our next challenge was to carefully remove all the passenger windows so they could be restored to pristine condition. The window-less bus shell was then towed up the M1 to one of the country’s largest vehicle spray shops where the tired yellow bodywork was repaired, cleaned, primed and sprayed in super-sheen Brooklyn black.
GOING THAT EXTRA MILE
Meanwhile, our team worked on the components for the ambitious interior design, featuring a fully working bar custom-made from reclaimed corrugated steel and hardwood and incorporating modern beer dispensing technology, fridges, a working sink and cash tills. Not bad for a space measuring just 3.5m x 2.5m.
Once the shiny bus returned to our yard, we were able to lay new flooring in reclaimed timber that was then scenically painted with the Brooklyn logo. Six of the original seats were repaired, shot blasted, powder-coated, re-upholstered and refitted along with recessed lighting and a high spec under-seat sound system to create a Brooklyn inspired beer tasting area. Steampunk wall lighting, a number of original internal light fittings and a custom wall light made from an old skateboard were all wired to a new dimmable control to create the right mood for the laid back lager brand.
Finally we repainted the interior, added new trim to the steps, wrapped the exterior in graphics and fitted a bespoke bar top inlaid with hundreds of original bottle caps flown in from New York. Exterior seating furniture made from reclaimed pallets and aged steel gives the full festival bar vibe, which you can experience at events across the country through the summer months. Keep your eyes peeled for a vintage American school bus with a difference!
As with much of our work a tight deadline is often up there with the biggest of our challenges. For this project we had just two weeks to completely transform a rusty yellow American school bus into a fully functioning bar. The challenges this presents are usually around sourcing suppliers who can stop what they are doing at the drop of a hat and jump onto a project. Thankfully we have a great deal of fantastic connections who we’ve worked with over the years who will do just that.
Still wanting more? Check out Hue and Cry’s write-up of how the converted bus helped increase Brooklyn Brewery’s brand awareness in the UK.