A lot of people get up in arms when bus product is imported into Australia. So when Coach Design sends product back out, isn’t it time to celebrate a bit?
It’s not Coach Design’s first NZ export and doubt it will be its last, but what this latest custom Alpine body on a Scania K 450 EB6x2 chassis is, is ‘fetter’ – in a good way. Fabian Cotter reports.
THE DESTINATION might not be too far away and it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened – and that’s a good thing – but Queensland-based Aussie body builder Coach Design prepping and shipping out a beautiful luxury coach to New Zealand (one of two, recently) is definitely something to be happy about.
In fact, in those parts and many others around the country you could expect Coach Design fans to be making like they were appearing the in the Pharrell Williams video for the song Happy and be dancing in the streets, in workplaces, at tenpin bowling alleys and even on top of closed-lid dunnies in their bathrooms maybe (Disclaimer: that last one could be dangerous; don’t try that at home, kids!).
Yet while this is nothing less than the 83rd vehicle that Coach Design has exported to New Zealand – with the company’s exports starting in 2000 – and it being the 15th coach for operator Bayes, this one differs from the previous pack. How so? Well, depending on how you see it and say it, “she’s a bit fetter/ fatter” than most. By about 50mm, to be exact. Just the thickness of a couple of pieces of chewy either side puts this ‘wide-bodied’ Alpine at 2.55m – a standard not blinked at in many parts
of the world, but kind of taboo here in Australia. Shhhh....
Yet the beauty of this build is that it’s not staying here, so as that famous old Latin saying goes: “Winner, winner, chicken dinner.”
Ultimately, it’s a great-looking unit and building it wasn’t without some hurdles to hop over in the process, but Coach Design was more than happy to meet those head on and confide with ABC magazine exclusively about what those are exactly. While we were there and saw it in build last month or so, we decided to sneak around the workshop and have a sticky beak (on a weekend, safety instructions followed) and then come back and ask a few questions about how this all came about. As you do…
at the time of our questioning while he was filling in for a finish-line foreman on holidays – Coach Design director Chryss Jamieson was only too happy to give ABC magazine the lowdown on what’s what.
“The last two vehicles that we built for Bayes will take our total NZ exports up to 83 coaches – which started back in 2000,” Jamieson confirmed.
“Including the coach about to be sent to the wharf, this will be the 15th Bayes
With Ashley Jamieson under the pump
coach. All the coaches we build for NZ are of a very high spec and similar to what is in Europe.”
“NZ will accept Australian vehicles that are fitted with an Australian compliance plate, but NZ have a total vehicle weight penalty system, where the heavier the vehicle the more road fuel tax they have to pay. So the coaches are built to the NZ roll- over standards, which means a lighter frame construction.
“As every vehicle is built we send drawings and all information to a NZ engineering firm based in Auckland to get the compliance wheel turning and, when the coaches are finished, we supply a weigh bridge certificate so the registration paperwork can be completed. By the time the coach reaches NZ all the paperwork is in place and there are no hold-ups,” he said.
So with crucial things like weights and compliance to be dealt with at the best of times, surely Coach Design had to overcome other issues for this first wide-body Alpine?
“This coach was a challenge for us because it was our first ever 2.550mmwide vehicle and, as the numbers of these vehicles to be built was not going to be very many, we had to minimise our tooling costs,” Jamieson said. “Surprisingly, though,
…the 83rd vehicle that Coach Design has exported to New Zealand.
the amount of work to make the wider vehicle was nowhere near what we had originally thought,” he explained elatedly.
So how long did it take? “A standard-width vehicle is about a 12-week build and this one was only another week’s work.”
FUSSY CLIENTS – IN A NICE WAY
According to Jamieson, the Bayes family are extremely fussy buyers and had done a lot of their own research on some of the components for this coach, particularly in chassis selection: a Scania K450 EB6x2, effectively purchased directly from Sweden.
“It is so much fun to work with companies like that [Bayes] because the end result is outstanding,” he said.
“The Brusa seats – another thing the client wanted – came from Turkey and they were so good looking with many features; however, the calf supports had to be removed as there was just not enough space for them. NZ seat compliance is also much less than Australian standards and they cannot be used here,” Jamieson was quick to point out.
In fact, ABC hears from industry sources this is a big issue in terms of seat selection in this country in that ADRs allow seats constructed in other countries into Australia if they are already on a bus or coach as a Completely Built Up unit (CBU), and thus do not need to meet the test and safety standards that local seat producers do.
But again, this stunning coach is not for Australian road use.
A PEAK INSIDE
The cabin is a comfy and inspiring place to be.
As Jamieson explains, other features included new reading light/ vent modules; shadow lighting under every window sill and step entry mouldings; centremounted fibreglass modular toilet; Waeco refrigerator on top of the centre toilet; huge seat spacing; and both centre and front entries were finished off in a dark woodgrained vinyl.
“Another two new features for
Coach Design was the one-piece screen and the Japanese plugdoor control system from Taihei Denki,” he said.
“There were two of these specialised vehicles for Bayes and one is already on the NZ roads working. The second one [pictured] is also complete and just waiting for shipping.
Above: Family-owned Bayes Coachlines took delivery of this beauty. Below:The Brusa seats sourced from Turkey. Opposite:Dark woodgrained vinyl is a prominent feature.