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THE RETRO SPOTLIGHT is shining on select historic Volvo buses as the Swedish manufacturer prepares to celebrate 50 years of operating in Australia, it reports.

The significant milestone is helping highlight key bus and coach clubs and groups nationwide – such as the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society (TBCS) – where retro collections harbour iconic vehicles that keep alive Volvo’s long bus history in the Australasian region, it states.

TBSC currently owns 11 vintage buses, three of which are Volvos. These historic Volvo buses include: a 1978 B58 / PMC; a 1985 B10M / PMC artic; and a 1988 B10M / Custom Hyliner touring coach.

TBSC secretary Neil Robins also personally owns an impressive 1980 Volvo B58 / Volgren Hess-bodied bus.

The 1978 Volvo B58/PMC – nicknamed ‘Tassie Bluebird’ – has a history of its own and has spent its whole life in Tasmania, Volvo states. It was acquired by the society in 2016 and has won numerous awards throughout the years – even at truck shows, it says.

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The 1985 Volvo B10M/PMC artic was previously a Metropolitan Transport Trust/Metro Tasmania bus and was the oldest bus in state government service when donated to the society.

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The 1988 Volvo B10M/Custom Hyliner is the society’s latest addition and was donated by Rob/Fruncine Sainty from Launceston in April, 2020, and was originally with Westbus NSW and Coachlink QLD.

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As for Robins’s 1980 Volvo B58/Volgren Hess body, it is the first articulated bus in Tasmania and also the very first Volvo bus Neil ever drove many years ago – which he has now owned for four years.

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Robins says the society boasts an impressive collection of historic Volvo buses among others.

With 37 years working in the bus industry, Robbins has lived and breathed buses for as long as he can remember, says Volvo, and that he recalls fond memories as a child being surrounded by buses in his local community.

With buses being his main mode of transport, he got to know every community bus driver in his area, as well as the different bus makes and models, it explains.

Robins’s love for buses continued into his youth and adulthood, where he landed his first job in the industry as a community bus driver at Redline Coaches, Tasmania. Here he spent years passionately working for Redline and would later be promoted to the role of operating manager. It was in 2010 that Robins and other Tasmanian bus enthusiasts created the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society, in response to a need to establish a body for Tasmanian bus and transport enthusiasts, where he became the secretary, Volvo explains.

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The society quickly became established and was recognised for conducting unique and enthralling enthusiast bus tours showcasing Tasmania’s spectacular scenery and unique transport vehicles and operators, Volvo explains.

Robins proudly describes his tour as Australia’s only “living museum” in actively exhibiting across Tasmania to the public, covering anywhere from 30km to more than 600km in one tour. However, in order to embark on these great tours, the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society spends many of their hours up keeping and preserving the integrity of their historic vehicles, it adds.

“My future vision for the Society is having a fully enclosed depot which can operate as a Museum as well, opening to the public, said Robins.

“I am trying to get others more involved, so I can step back and let the younger brigade take on the reins, but the prime goal at moment is to establish the premises we already have and to develop it more with extended undercover areas,” he said.

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Acting general manger Volvo Bus Australia David Mead said: “It is absolutely wonderful to see people like Neil the members of the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society preserving the true spirit, passion and history of the bus industry.”

When ABC magazine asked of the significance of the buses to Volvo here, he explained: “These models of buses were great for us in Australia and they helped to establish our reputation for safety and quality. The Volvo B10M, in particular, was an excellent model for reliability and durability – which remain core pillars of our product design today.”

“To see the vehicles in such great condition in this collection and the passion for the Volvo product is really inspiring for the team at Volvo Bus as we approach our 50-year milestone”, Mead added. 

Photography: courtesy Volvo Bus Australia

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