By Mike Davey
|Wally Coutu’s deceptive school bus packs more than you’d think under the hood and in the interior.|
Stoney Creek, Ontario — July 22, 2014 — Take a quick glance, and itâ€™s a school bus. Take another look (and you will) and itâ€™s obviously more than a little bit different from the standard vehicle. Within seconds, youâ€™ll likely ask yourself â€œdid someone really build a hot-rod school bus?â€
Yes, they definitely did. The hot-rod bus is the creation of MMC Bus Division in Stoney Creek, Ont. The facility primarily repairs and refinishes buses for schools and transport companies. The hot-rod version of the commonplace kid carrier was the brainchild of Wally Coutu, the locationâ€™s General Manager.
â€œThe reason we did this was to give back to the community and our partners,â€ says Coutu. â€œA lot of companies will hold family barbecues, and theyâ€™ll ask us if we want to be a sponsor. We thought this would be a good way to give the kids at these events something to do, while giving back to our partners.â€
The bus is undeniably kid-friendly. A panel on the top rear of the bus flips up to reveal a DJ station, while the pipes on the front hood are hooked up to a 40-gallon tank and can shoot water up to 25 feet in the air. Inside, the seats have been removed and replaced with candy machines.
Photos might fool you into thinking that the bus is still the standard yellow colour, but up close you can tell itâ€™s anything but. Itâ€™s actually a three-stage golden pearl, originally intended to match one of the colour options on the Ford Focus. The paint job is a striking reminder that itâ€™s a hot rod. Small touches serve as a reminder of the vehicleâ€™s origins. Sharp eyes will notice that the bus retains its official number on the door, and â€œbluebirdâ€ insignia have been repainted at the forward upper corners.
Currently, a new hood with larger pipes is being designed and built, and there are still plans on the drawing board to install a wheelchair ramp for the rear door.
â€œThereâ€™s head clearance from ceiling to floor, so thatâ€™s not a problem,â€ says Coutu. â€œWe wanted to include a wheelchair ramp so nobody would feel excluded.â€
Part of the plan was for kids and parents to be able to come through the bus and buy some candy from the machines. All proceeds would go to charity. Unfortunately, the costs to insure the bus for this sort of activity have turned out to be prohibitively high.
Coutu has insured the vehicle as a personal hot rod. This means he can drive it, but he canâ€™t let people walk through the bus, even when itâ€™s parked.
â€œItâ€™s a shame,â€ says Coutu. â€œWeâ€™ve put two years into building this, and itâ€™s cost over $100,000. We certainly arenâ€™t looking to make money from it, but right now we canâ€™t even use it properly.â€
For more information on MMC Bus Division, please visit mmcbusdivision.com.