BEAUTY: Nathan Tester (left) stands beside The Silver Fox, the brainchild of Graeme Collins (right), which hit the streets for Jumpers and Jazz.
BEAUTY: Nathan Tester (left) stands beside The Silver Fox, the brainchild of Graeme Collins (right), which hit the streets for Jumpers and Jazz. Jonno Colfs

The hottest bus in Warwick

AS THE RACQ Grand Auto Display took pride of place in Palmerin St on Sunday, there was one vehicle that had everybody talking.

The Silver Fox, a 1936 Chevy bus, is one of a kind and was built right here in Warwick.

Graeme Collins, the man behind the build, said it was an idea he'd had for years.

"It stems from love of cars," he said.

"That and having the passion to create something different, unique. That's what brings you in to work everyday."

 

The nine-seater people mover was inspired by the early American school bus.

The long bonneted look is common in the US but not so in Australia.

"We messed around with the idea of building a hot rod," he said.

"But I thought a hot rod bus would be pretty cool.

"And I had a team of blokes that could help me achieve it."

The blokes in question were skilled Warwick mechanic Nathan Tester, fabricator Nick Locke and panel beater/spray painter Jamie Pollard, each bringing their own special skills to the build.

The Silver Fox began with the chassis of a 1936 C Cab truck.

"It was in bad shape," Mr Collins said.

"Then we cut a 1972 Mazda 15-seater bus in half and chopped the top, lowering the roof by about 200mm.

"Then we joined them together."

Nick and Jamie spent three solid months fabricating and joining the two halves together.

The process was monitored every step of the way by a mechanical engineer.

Design plans were submitted to the Australian Street Rod Federation and construction needed to meet stringent guidelines.

This was done in conjunction with Queensland Transport to ensure the finished vehicle was fit to take to the road.

"The inspections were probably more stringent on this vehicle," Mr Tester said.

"Due to the fact it will carry nine people.

"It's legally a brand new vehicle now it's finished and is registered as such."

After the bus took shape, a reliable fuel-injected LS1 V8 engine from a late-model Commodore was installed.

Fuel lines, wiring, gearbox and a lengthy list of parts were installed and reinstalled.

"It was all done from scratch," Mr Tester said.

"We've put this machine together three times."

All together, the build took three-and-a-half years before finally being unveiled at the recent Brisbane Hot Rod Show, taking away the prize for best commercial hot rod.

Street Machine magazine has also been to the workshop to see The Silver Fox.

"Everyone who has laid eyes on this machine has been blown away," Mr Collins said.

"Which is what we wanted.

"We didn't start out to build a showpiece but it became one over time."

Mr Collins said the bus would not sit in the shed.

"I have seven grandchildren who want to go for a trip in it," he said.

"The boys who built it want to take it out.

"It's going to get used a lot and the enjoyment gathered from that is going to be worth every bit of time spent putting it together."



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