NUMBER ONE
FOR COACH & BUS

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Millbrook 2018
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November 08 2017
By Tim Deakin

Tim is the Senior Journalist at routeONE magazine is also the title’s chief test driver, with considerable vehicle knowledge


Something for everyone at used coach kingdom

The choice has never been greater for those operators in the market for a second-hand coach. We look at three examples that are in completely different market sectors but are for sale with the same vendor

The Sunsundegui Sideral-bodied Volvo B7R is up for £119,000 with ABC

Choice is aplenty in the second-hand coach market, and it’s likely that, somewhere, there will be a vehicle for sale that suits your needs.

Arriva Bus and Coach (ABC) may be where you will find it. ABC has a wide variety of used models, from mid-size vehicles to top-spec tourers with lots in between, and it can supply quickly. Primarily made up of coaches, stock is held at both its Cleckheaton and Wellingborough sites.

As an example of something at the smaller end of the market but which has a big coach feel, ABC currently has a number of Volvo B7Rs with Sunsundegui Sideral bodywork available.

They are 10.3m coaches, and routeone was able to select one at random. It has 34 seats and arrived from its first owner, a coach holiday operator. It is in good condition inside and out. The seats are finished in red fabric with cream leather headrest inserts, and they also have three-point belts.

The inside is clean and the seats are free from damage; a floor mounted toilet is fitted adjacent to a continental door behind the rear axle to maximise in-wheelbase luggage space.

The mid-size Sideral body on B7R chassis was the forerunner to the current SC5-bodied B8R at Euro 6, and it has all of the individual design aspects that set the Sideral apart from other coaches. The roof droops at the front and it has the trademark nearside mirror arm that is affixed at the top and at the bottom.

The coach in question has a 290bhp, 7.1-litre Volvo D7B Euro 5 engine coupled to a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Externally all panels are tidy; the same is true for the tyres, and the relatively short wheelbase gives a coach that is exceptionally manoeuvrable.

Although 290bhp is not a spectacular output for what despite its size is a heavyweight chassis, the automatic gearbox gives excellent performance. Once the fluid within it has reached operating temperature shifts are smooth, and a Volvo auxiliary brake gives excellent secondary stopping power.

Date of first registration for this Sideral midi was April 2013. The sticker price is £119,000 and like all of ABC’s stoke, it can be repainted prior to delivery should the buyer require.

10.3m Sunsundegui B7R seats 34 and has a rear floor-mounted toilet

Although coaches in this segment of the market are generally considered to be niche purchases, the little B7R has plenty of life left in it.

It is in good condition bar the odd minor blemish, and it is well suited for a return to front-line service. ABC has a number of mid-size Sunsundegui B7Rs with up to 40 seats available.

A middle-of-the-road workhorse

As an example of a workaday, centre-of-the-road coach that is approaching mid-life, ABC has a 12m Neoplan Tourliner with 49 seats and a centre sunken toilet.

It was first registered in July 2011 and it has the 12.4-litre Euro 5 EEV D26 engine rated at 420bhp coupled to a 12-speed TipMatic automated gearbox.

The Tourliner has two previous owners, having started life with City Circle. Internally it has blue part-leather seats that are in good condition and have three-point belts.

The interior scheme is unadventurous and slightly conservative, but with a cherished number plate, a repaint and possibly a re-trim this Tourliner could also return to front-line work. With an asking price of £92,000, it is also suited to use as a jack-of-all-trades coach, including a mix of school duties and private hire.

MAN’s TipMatic gearbox – a badge engineered ZF AS-Tronic – received some criticism in earlier coaches for poor responsiveness and occasional unpredictability. Although this Tourliner is over six years old, it doesn’t display those characteristics.

In fact, the Neoplan drives very nicely. A large engine for a two-axle coach means that speed is gained quickly and the TipMatic deals with gearshifts well. A powerful auxiliary brake is also beneficial.

Although not in the first flush of youth, the coach has obviously been treated well by drivers, and that’s reflected in the state of the cab. Neoplan’s dial layout of the period is dated by current standards, but with the exception of a slightly-worn seat squab, the driver’s workstation is in fine condition.

This 49-seat Neoplan Tourliner dating from 2011 is on sale at £92,000

Besides this coach, ABC has a number of other Tourliners in stock. Primarily they are 12m, two-axle models, but a handful of higher-capacity tri-axles are also available.

Van Hool cinematic stunner

Undoubtedly one of the most impressive coaches among ABC’s used stock is a super-high Van Hool T917 Astronef with 57 seats. The Astronef is a comparatively rare sight on the UK’s roads, and its distinguishing aspect is its cinema-style sloping floor.

The 14.04m example with ABC is finished in the metallic blue livery of its former owner, BM Coaches of Hayes. Like the other vehicles in this overview, it is in good external condition and its tyres all have plenty of meat left on them.

Nevertheless, where the Astronef excels is inside. It is a top-specification coach that has Van Hool’s standard thick-padded seats. They have three-point belts and are finished in two-tone leather; black is the dominant colour, with cream headrest inserts and piping.

The sloping floor is noticeable when boarding, but the most striking aspect of the coach is its roof. It is fully glazed, and while luggage racks are lacking as a result, the overall impression created is one of a typically bespoke-built Van Hool that, when new, will have been one of the most expensive coaches on the market.

Despite the lack of overhead racks, passenger service units are present and the Astronef also has three fold-down monitors along with a centre sunken toilet topped by a small servery.

On the outside, huge underfloor space is provided (accessed via manual doors) along with ski lockers over all three axles. A small Hanover destination display screen is mounted at the top of the windscreen and Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels are fitted.

Striking 2010 Van Hool T917 Astronef is in excellent condition at £170,000

Top-power tourer

In the Astronef available from ABC is a Euro 5, 12.9-litre DAF MX-13 engine.

It develops 460bhp and is coupled to a ZF AS-Tronic automated manual gearbox, and as would be expected with such a unit, performance of what is a heavy coach is highly impressive.

The Astronef has obviously been looked after by its former owner and the leather seats show no signs of wear. The cab – which has a matching driver’s seat – is also in good condition, and it is very clean.

Bodywork has the odd minor scratch, but nothing more than would be expected from a seven-year old coach.

When put to the test on the M62 near ABC’s Cleckheaton head office, the Astronef showed what it is capable of.

Even when joining the motorway eastbound at Brighouse, the stiff grade for over a mile posed no problem and the coach was rapidly up to the limited speed while still climbing.

As with all tri-axle Van Hools, the Astronef has an imposing road presence. The coach being sold by Arriva could be driven away and immediately put back into service, such is its condition.

For an operator that may prefer to stamp their own identity on it first, a respray and a cherished registration would create a vehicle that could pass off as new.

ABC is asking £170,000 for the Van Hool and it has a variety of other two- and three-axle integral models from the Belgian coachbuilder in stock. At the time of writing, this is the only Astronef, however.

57 seats in two-tone leather are complemented by a fully glazed roof

Three for the road

The three coaches described above represent a small snapshot of the stock that ABC holds at any one time. As revealed recently in routeone, the used fleet has recently been revalued and many are, says the dealer, priced to sell.

Besides purchase, ABC offers finance and rental options on used coaches. Most are located at Cleckheaton but some others are held at Wellingborough.

Stock is listed on ABC’s website alongside a brief run-down of key items and the specification, along with a selection of pictures.

As demonstrated here, there is a wide breadth of models available, so whether you need a top-spec tourer such as an Astronef, a middle-of-the-range workhorse like a Tourliner, or a bespoke mid-sized cruiser such as a Sunsundegi B7R, it may have what you need.

www.arrivabusandcoach.co.uk



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