Mining company vehicle experience is behind every motorhome they build…
by Allan Whiting of Outback Travel Australia
4x4 Motorhomes Australia is part of the Bus 4x4 Group, the Brisbane-based motorhome-body builders on Iveco and Isuzu 4WD cab-chassis, and secondary manufacturer of 4WD Toyota Coaster and Commuter vehicles.
Bus 4x4 Group also includes I-Bus Australia, which sells buses built on Isuzu truck cab-chassis. In the last few years, Bus 4x4 Group has diversified from 4WD-converted mining transport vehicles to school buses, coaches, tour vehicles, campervan and motorhome bodies.
4x4 Motorhomes Australia predominantly concentrates on 4WD models of Toyota, Isuzu and Iveco vehicles. The Isuzu and Iveco cab-chassis come with factory-fitted 4x4 drivetrains, but the Coaster and Commuter models require converting to 4WD before they are fitted with external motorhome modifications.
Converting to 4WD is second nature to this company since it cut its teeth – literally – in the Australian mining environment. We can't think of a tougher place to learn what works and what doesn’t, as divers of mining company equipment aren't noted for their loving care of machinery!
Given the Bus 4x4 pedigree it's unsurprising that motorhomes from this company are much sought after, because of their body build, quality fit-outs and the freedom of outback driving almost without limitation.
4x4 Motorhomes imports low-mileage Toyota Coasters and HiAce Commuters and converts them to 4WD using in-house-engineered componentry. The work is done in Brisbane with locally sourced and imported parts, including New Process transfer cases and Dana differentials with limited-slip Eaton centres. All Toyota models are based only on the mid-sized Coaster and SLWB Hiace Commuter mini-buses.
Through the Bus 4x4 Group, 4x4 Motorhomes have import rights over the higher-output Coaster models Toyota doesn't import. The standard issue engine is a Hino 4-litre with 110 kW, but Bus 4x4 can give you up to 135 kW. A manual five-speed gearbox is standard while a five-speed auto is available.
The transition from a 2WD Coaster to a 4WD motorhome starts by replacing the standard front end with a purpose-designed live axle with Dana 70 or 80 centre, manual free-wheeling hubs and ventilated disc brakes. The chassis is also modified to accept long-travel coil spring front suspension. A front prop-shaft connects to a New Process, two-speed transfer case that's stirred by an electronic rocker switch. At the back the drive axle is slung under the leaf-spring pack and with the super-single tyres the ground clearance is increased to a whopping 250mm. Also on offer is a High Lift 2WD Coaster that can be converted into a motorhome, albeit without the 4WD conversion.
When I test drove one of the 4x4 Motorhomes Coasters on a quick spin around some of Brisbane's lesser-quality roads, I realised ride quality had been transformed from the standard Coaster's rigid reaction to bumps. The converted Coaster motorhome didn't feel like it was riding almost a foot higher than the standard machine because handling was flat and predictable.
I-Bus motorhomes can be supplied in two specification levels: the first is a generic I-Bus bus-based motorhome body on a front-engined Isuzu truck chassis. The second stage is a customised motorhome, including body modifications such as rear-mounted tyre and storage space, roof racks, brush bar, bull bar, tow bar and other accessories.
4x4 Motorhomes builds on three Isuzu 4WD cab-chassis variants: the 300 Series (75-155); 600 Series (110-210) and 800 Series (139-260). In addition, I-Bus 2WD motorhomes can be built on the 450 Series (87/80-190), right up to the 1000 Series (165-300).
I-Bus 4x4 motorhome bodies come with part-time or full-time 4WD systems and with super single tyre and spring suspension options. Importantly, Isuzu spare parts and service for the engine and drive train are available at Isuzu dealerships and service centres across Australia.
Bus 4x4 has had a long-term agreement to build bus and coach bodies on Iveco Daily, Iveco Tonto and Iveco Trakker vehicles. These models are very popular with mining companies and outback tour operators, and all of their engineered bodies can be built as motorhome bodies.
An Iveco Daily 4x4 Mini Bus built by Bus 4x4 debuted at the Sydney Bus and Coach Show in November 2016. This vehicle, with its 24-ratio transmission and excellent ground clearance has the best off-road ability in its class. The body design was developed to include a motorhome option and Bus 4x4 is already processing orders for the motorhome version of the Iveco Daily 4x4. As with the Isuzu motorhome range the finished product can be generic or fitted with similar options. The larger models in the Iveco range – Tonto and Trakker – make ideal motorhomes and the Trakker can be supplied as a 4x4 or a 6x6.
All Iveco 4x4 motorhome bodies come with factory 4WD systems and standard front, centre and rear differential locks, plus factory super single tyre options. Backed by Iveco, spare parts and service for the cab-chassis are available at all Iveco centres across Australia.
Bus 4x4 Group also builds custom vehicles, including wheelchair-accessible models, so 4x4 Motorhomes can offer customised solutions for specific transportation needs. Two such custom vehicles were the Landace for a Perth customer and the LandCruiser Safari built for Emirates Resorts: both on the tough Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GX model.
4x4 Motorhomes don’t do internal fit-outs, but can source them through reputed specialists who use cutting edge materials for innovative design, with ample storage and space.
The most popular fit-outs fall into 3 types: the Core Series, used predominantly for a 6-7-metre vehicles and starting at $31,990; the Executive Series, starting at $49,990, and the luxurious Premium Series, starting at $64,990. All fit-out prices are approximate and depend on the external contractor and the final layout and options. All include living, kitchen, shower and bedroom areas with vinyl flooring; cooktop, fridge, water tanks, hot water system, house batteries and an external awning. Slide-outs and extra body modifications can be planned at the motorhome body build stage.
Bus 4x4 warrants its motorhome body for 3 years while the fit-out warranty is dependent on the chosen contractor. For more information call 1300 BUS (1300 287 494) or visit the website here.