Since 1995, Perth-based ABLE Bus and Coach has been building specialised bodies for the mining, tourism and community sectors, fitted to a range of 2WD and 4WD Isuzu cab/chassis trucks.
Company Director Kevin De Bruin, who had previous experience in facilitating sports activities for people with a disability, decided in 1995 to start an adventure tour bus service for people with disabilities.
“In the beginning, the biggest challenge we faced with adventure tour transport was having a strong, safe and reliable vehicle that could handle the rugged outback environment,” said De Bruin.
“A lot of adventure tour buses back in those days were overloaded before they even hit the highway and were unable to sustain the added torture of bush track driving.
“That’s why we moved to trucks, because they typically have a higher Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) rating than conventional buses and handle the rough terrain in remote Australia much better.”
The first truck build was De Bruin’s personal project. Utilising an Isuzu FSS 500 4x4 cab chassis and with no external help and no engineering background, he designed and built the truck’s body himself.
“The first one took five months to build,” he said. “I used to work in construction, building houses and warehouses, so I had that experience to help guide me."
He described building the body to fit the truck’s intended purpose as a huge learning curve, adding that the process taught him the best way to mount the body for the second truck, a formula he’s not had to alter since.
To date, the company has reportedly supplied over 420 Isuzu trucks with purpose-built bodies to its customers.
“Our range starts with the Isuzu NLS 45-150 AWD in a 12-seater, complete with walk-in storage, and can be upgraded to a 15-seater on the higher GVM model,” said De Bruin. “The NLS 45-150 has a 4.5-tonne GVM, which means it can be driven on a car licence.
“Then we go up to an Isuzu NPS 75-155 4x4 22-seater, and then an FRD 110-260 30-seater with walk-in storage area”
Other variants include the FTS 139-260 4x4 that can accommodate 30 to 38 seats and the two-wheel drive Isuzu FVD 165-300 with 46 or 50 seats."
De Bruin said he attributes his continuing preference for Isuzu to a range of considerations headed by reliability and durability.
“We continue to choose Isuzu mainly because of the engineering, reliability and the backup support,” he said.
“We used to specify manuals, but today it’s Automated Manual Transmissions (AMTs) and automatics. The trucks go everywhere and in all conditions from beach driving to corrugated tracks and up the Cape.
“The market continues to demand Isuzu in these applications, and as our business has progressed over the years, so have the trucks. They were good to start with and have naturally evolved into an even better product today.”