Car Culture & Entertainment

A Build with a Purpose: D.A. Short Bus 1957 Ford School Bus

DA Bus Rendering

(Image/Gerald Martin – Beyond D.A. Bus)

Some times a hot rod project goes beyond metal and motors. This custom 1957 Ford B500 bus build is one of those times.

Chris Pulley is turning this vintage people-hauler into a rolling billboard for Beyond D.A. Bus, a nonprofit devoted to engaging people with any disability in activities they may have never imagined themselves doing.

Chris knows of what he speaks; he has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a form of Muscular Dystrophy. That hasn’t stopped him from water skiing, snow skiing, scuba diving, and driving the wheels off his handicapped-modified 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT on the Hot Rod Power Tour and at the race track.

Nfamus Metal Fab in Cleburne, Texas is handling the metal fabrication and suspension work. The Ford will lay-rocker thanks to a full air suspension featuring an Air Lift 3H air management system and four Viair 485C Gen 2 compressors. The air suspension also makes it easier to get in and out of the bus.

The drivetrain came out of a 2003 Ford E450 school bus. Diesel Dynamics in Dallas, Texas rebuilt the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel and 4R100 four-speed automatic transmission. The wheels are custom-made 24 x 10 Big Bores from Tennessee Wheels and Tire. Stuff like the Dakota Digital gauge cluster, TMI seats, steering column, brake upgrades, and other items came from Summit Racing.

BraunAbility donated a RA300 Transit Ramp that will allow wheelchair access through the modified rear door. Adaptive Driving Access (ADA) is installing hand controls and a six-way transfer seat base that turns to let the driver easily move from a wheelchair onto the seat. A track system will be installed in the floor to lock wheelchair passengers in the bus.

Chris plans to have the ’57 done for a debut at the 2019 Lone Star Throwdown.

More pictures are below, and you can check out some the work Nfamus Metal Fab did to the bus in this video:

DA-BUs-Before-Shot

Here is the raw material for the D.A. Bus project. The 2003 Ford E450 school bus donated its drivetrain for a transplant into the 1957 Ford B500 short bus. Chris found the ‘57 in running and driving condition in Eureka, Montana. “Apparently that where busses go to die, because there sure are a lot of them in that area,” Chris explained. (Image/Beyond D.A. Bus)

 

DA-Bus-in-Metal-Fabrication-Shop

The B500 after Nfamus Metal Fab in Cleburne, Texas got its mitts on it. This is how the bus will look at full drop. The rear suspension is a custom two-link holding up a dually rear axle out of the E450. The two-link helps keep the bus as low as possible to minimize the angle of the BraunAbility wheelchair access ramp at the back door. Those 24 inch wheels are powdercoated in a one-off color called Oxblood Red, created by Black Label Coatings in Chuckey, Tennessee. (Image/Beyond D.A. Bus)

 

DA-Bus-Air-Ride-Suspension-System

Nfamus built the custom air suspension system using four Viair 485C Gen 2 compressors and two Air Lift five gallon air tanks. The system is controlled by an Air Lift 3H air management system. (Image/Beyond D.A. Bus)

 

DA-Bus-Ford-Powerstroke-Engine

Crede Young at Diesel Dynamics in Dallas, Texas rebuilt the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel. It’s been upgraded with bigger fuel injectors, a custom compressor wheel for the turbo for quicker spool-up, and a FASS lift pump and filter setup to keep the Power Stroke fed. Swamps Diesel will do a custom tune for the engine. (Image/Beyond D.A. Bus)

 

DA-Bus-Interior-Fabrication

It takes a really wide-angle lens to get a complete view of the D.A. Bus’ interior. You can see the floor framing and aluminum interior panels, plus one of the huge wheel tubs. That tub is covering a pair of 24 x 10 inch Big Bore wheels on 285/40R-24 Nitto Grappler tires. (Image/Beyond D.A. Bus)

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