Custom Denning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Custom Bus)

Custom Denning
IndustryBus manufacturing
FounderStanley Hillsdon
Revenue$80 million (2012)
ParentDunn Group

Custom Denning (previously Custom Bus and Custom Coaches) is an Australian bus body builder based in St Marys, New South Wales.


Cycle Components Manufacturing Company[edit]

Busabout Wagga Wagga Isuzu LT1-11P bodied in 1994 seen in June 2009
Sydney Buses Volvo B12BLE

In 1935, Stanley Hillsdon founded Cycle Components Manufacturing Company (CCMC) in Guildford, having been involved in manufacture of bicycles since 1911. In 1946 the company won the contract to manufacture reversible seats for Sydney's tram system.[1]

In 1955, CCMC successfully tendered to body 125 single deck Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster buses for the NSW Department of Government Transport.[1][2] In May 1956, Jack Violet, Hillsdon's nephew by marriage, was employed as Bus Divisional Manager to oversee operations. In April 1958, CCMC bodied their first bus for a private operator, a Leyland Comet for Rowes Bus Service.[3]

Apart from six MAN SL200 and SG192s bodied for ACTION in 1982/82 as part of a contracted included when Smithfield Bus & Coach Works was purchased[4] and 19 Scania K112TR coaches bodied for the State Rail Authority in 1985/86,[5][6] CCMC built bodies exclusively for private operators after the completion of the Leyland Worldmaster contract for the next 37 years.[7]

Custom Coaches Manufacturing Company[edit]

In 1962, control of CCMC passed from Hillsdon to Violet.[1] At some point, the business was renamed Custom Coaches Manufacturing Company, upon the suggestion of Kathleen Metcalfe, sister-in-law of Violet and niece of Hillsdon and wife of Ray Metcalfe, another employee, in order to maintain the CCMC initials. In May 1981, the Smithfield Bus & Coach Works business was purchased from the Bosnjak family.[8] Custom Coaches concentrated on bodying buses for the private sector. In 1967, CCMC entered into an agreement with Melbourne bodybuilder WA Newnham & Sons for CCMC to provide frames and other components.[9] CCMC also supplied components to Brisbane bodybuilder Watt Brothers in the 1960s[10] and Perth's Howard Porter in the 1970s.[11][12]

In 1988, CCMC purchased WA Newnham & Sons with the business renamed Newnham Custom.[9] In 1995, a plant was opened at Arundel on the Gold Coast.[1][13] Newnham Custom closed in 2001 with production transferred to Adelaide.[14][15]

In 2000, Australian Bus Manufacturing (ABM) in Adelaide was purchased.[16][17] It had been formed in 1999 when a consortium of CCMC, Jim Bosnjak and John Hewson purchased the PMC Australia business following the collapse of Clifford Corporation.[18][19] Australian Bus Manufacturing was rebranded as Custom Coaches in 2004.[1]

In 1998, Custom Coaches began bodying buses for the State Transit Authority after a break of over 37 years.[7] By April 2013, over 1,280 had been bodied for the government operator.[20]

In late 2001, Custom Care was established as a bus refurbishment operation.[1]

In 2002, Mark Burgess, a great-nephew of Hillsdon by marriage, became CEO of the company.[21] He, his brother Paul and a long-term business partner, Chris Absalom, completed the purchase of the business from Jack Violet in 2005.[1]

In 2008, production exceeded 400 buses per year, and by 2009 the total number of buses bodied had exceeded 15,000.[1] In May 2010, the Sydney plant moved to new premises in Villawood[22] and in June 2012 the company was purchased by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.[23][24] Custom Coaches was placed in administration in May 2014.[25] On 15 August 2014, the business was purchased back by Mark Burgess and Allegro Funds and the company was renamed Custom Bus.[26][27][28] The Royal Park, South Australia plant closed down in September 2014.[29]

Dunn ownership[edit]

In February 2018, Custom Bus was again placed in administration, resulting in the sacking of 122 staff.[30] The following month, Dunn Group purchased Custom Bus, and in May 2018, relocated its factory to St Marys.[31][32] A year later, in June 2019, Custom Bus completed its 100th bus under Dunn ownership.[33] In September 2019, Custom Bus acquired Denning Manufacturing, but the latter's branding and operations will be retained.[34]

In February 2021, they announced the production of their first electric bus under the Custom Denning brand, the Element, which is now in production.[35]


A CB20 bodied Mercedes-Benz Vario operated by Qcity Transit



The Custom CB20 was similar in design to a minivan, paired exclusively with the Mercedes-Benz 815DL chassis. Busabout currently has two examples in its fleet.[37]

The Custom CB30 was available as both an 11m midibus and a 12.5m full sized bus. CDC has a sizeable fleet of MAN 12.220 midibuses with CB30 bodywork[38] while Transdev Melbourne had many full size CB30s with MAN chassis.[39]

The CB20 and CB30 ceased production around 2007 with no replacement vehicles provided.

A CB50 bodied Volvo B10MA operated by Hillsbus


The Custom CB50 was in production from 1999-2006, replacing the Custom CB30 and the Custom Coaches 550 and being succeeded by the Custom CB60.

There were two variants, the high floor CB50 ordered in small numbers by several operators and the low floor CB50HCL which was more

popular, with Premier Motor Service ordering 10 on Volvo B7RLE chassis.[40] The CB50HCL had a window line similar to the Bustech VST.


One of STA's Mercedes O405 Custom Citaro vehicles.

Early versions[edit]

The CB60 was produced between 1999 and 2009, succeeding the Custom Coaches 550 and being replaced by the CB80. Some of the first CB60s were produced by ABM in 1999 for Torrens Transit on MAN NL202 chassis, followed by many other examples. ABM produced many variants, the ABM CB62A was a CB60 with modified rear with Mercedes-Benz Citaro headlights and a modified front destination board mounting. The ABM CB64A was similar but with the CB60 headlights while the ABM CB60A was similar to the standard CB60.[41]

An ABM CB62A with the modified front.
A standard CB60 on a Volvo B12BLE chassis operated by Western Sydney Buses

Custom Coaches modified the CB60 in a similar way to the ABM CB62A for State Transit Authority in 1999 for their Custom Citaro vehicles (on Mercedes O405NH CNG chassis), but with the standard

CB60 rear.[42]

The Custom CB60 Combo was introduced after Custom Coaches dropped the ABM branding. It is the same as the ABM CB64A, but only found in articulated form.[41]

State Transit also bought a large number of CB60 bodied Volvo B12BLE vehicles, including several articulated vehicles.[20]

The Custom CB60 CMAX was released in 2007, first deliveries going to Busways Western Sydney on Scania K230UB Euro 3 chassis.[43]

(They are not referred to as CMAX in the fleetlists).

The original CB60 ended production around 2008.

Evo II[edit]

A CB60 Evo II bodied Volvo B12BLE, operated by the State Transit Authority

The CB60 Evo II was introduced in 2005 for State Transit on Volvo B12BLE Euro 5 chassis.[44] The Evo II featured weight reductions compared to the original CB60 as well as new headlight styling, a slightly modified rear and minor interior changes. The CB60 Evo II is slightly taller than the original CB60.

With the introduction of the Custom CB80, the CB60 Evo II ceased production in 2009, being one of Custom's most popular bodies.


A CB80 bodied Volvo B7RLE operated by the State Transit Authority

The Custom CB80 was first revealed to the public in 2009 as a demonstrator vehicle on Mercedes O500LE chassis, which visited various depots. It was supplied by Mercedes to State Transit as a replacement unit after a Mercedes O500LE CNG Custom Coaches CB60 Evo II blew up in a fire near Hillsdale. Following privatisation, the demonstrator is now M/O 4878 with Transdev John Holland Buses.[45]

State Transit was the first operator to order the CB80, a batch of 100 on Scania K280UB chassis were delivered in 2011. All vehicles are dual door and in Transport for NSW livery.[46]

The CB80 was designed using 3D modelling. It is still Custom's lightest bus body and has lightweight plastic ducting. Composite materials are used extensively in the bus. It also has several innovative features such as the wireless stop bells, front wheel hump design to maximise seating space and the positioning of the rear engine grilles to maximise advertising space.[47]

Series 2[edit]

A Custom Denning Endeavour bodied Volvo B8RLE operated by Transit Systems NSW

The CB80 Series 2 brought a range of improvements to the original CB80. It came with LED destination displays by default, had improved stop bells (the ones on the original CB80 were notorious for malfunctioning) and other minor differences.

The first CB80 Series 2 vehicles were delivered to State Transit in 2017 on Volvo B7RLE Euro 5 chassis.[48]

The CB80 Series 2 ceased production in 2019, being replaced by the Custom Endeavour. The final CB80 was 3120 ST, a Volvo B8RLE Custom CB80 for State Transit built in April 2020.


A Custom Denning Element operated by Transdev John Holland

The Custom Denning Element is an electric bus that can travel up to 500 kilometres, a typical range from a full charge and can seat up to 45 passengers. It features high-tech battery with powerful LED lights and driver assistance technologies and with lightweight engineered frame. It has a fully low-floor design, common in buses made for the European market.[49] It is a Transport for NSW Panel 3 approved bus and is manufactured in St Marys.[50]

Following trials, the first 6 Elements entered service with Busways in late 2021, operating around Penrith.[51] The State Transit Authority then placed an order for 10 vehicles to be delivered from December 2021 to March 2022 out of Waverley Bus Depot.[52]

Transport for NSW placed an order for 79 vehicles in 2022, which would operate under Transit Systems in Sydney's Inner West.[53][54] The first Elements to operate outside of NSW entered service with Donric & Sunbury Bus Service rolled out in mid-2022, with a demonstration model already operating for it.[55] Custom Denning has plans to launch the Element electric bus in the United Kingdom, build a left-hand drive model for continental European countries like France and Denmark, and possibly launch the Element model in North America.[56]

Custom Denning is also planning a hydrogen fuel-cell powered variant, dubbed the Element H2.[57]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h A Family Business Of Nephews Custom Coaches 13 October 2011
  2. ^ Travers, Greg (1982). From City to Suburb a fifty year journey. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 113. ISBN 0-959601-62-7.
  3. ^ Fleetline August 1988 issue 157 page 195
  4. ^ ACTION Fleet – Disposals Summary ACT Bus Wiki
  5. ^ "State Rail Orders More Coaches" Railway Digest August 1985 page 234
  6. ^ "State Rail Coach Services – The Vehicles" Australian Bus Panorama issue 9/3 October 1993 page 13
  7. ^ a b "Bus Fleet" Australian Bus Panorama April 1999 issue 14/5 page 44
  8. ^ "The Complete And Utter History of Smithfield" Australian Bus Panorama Vol 16 Special page 10
  9. ^ a b "Industry News" Australian Bus Panorama March 1989 issue 4/5 page 9
  10. ^ Travers, Greg (1979). The Australian Private Bus. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 67. ISBN 0-959601-61-9.
  11. ^ m/o 8093 Bus Australia Photo Gallery
  12. ^ "What is this thing called gen?" Australian Bus Panorama 6/2 1990 page 7
  13. ^ "New Custom Coaches Plant" Australian Bus Panorama June 1996 issue 11/9 page 28
  14. ^ "Newnham to Close" Australian Bus Panorama July 2001 issue 17/1
  15. ^ Customs launches supersite Archived 16 June 2013 at Australasian Bus & Coach
  16. ^ "Australian Bus Manufacturing" Australian Bus Panorama August 2000 issue 16/1 page 18
  17. ^ Custom acquires ABM, UBC set up in Asia Archived 16 June 2013 at Australasian Bus & Coach
  18. ^ "Austral Pacific Group" Fleetline May 1999 page 75
  19. ^ "New Owner for Bus Plant" Australian Bus Panorama June 1999 issue 14/6 page 32
  20. ^ a b State Transit Authority – Sydney Buses & Newcastle Buses Australian Bus Fleetlists
  21. ^ Customs looks to 2003 with interest Australasian Bus & Coach
  22. ^ Villawood Opening Custom Coaches 26 May 2010
  23. ^ ADL's Acquisition of Custom Coaches Archived 11 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine Custom Coaches 7 June 2012
  24. ^ Bus firm Alexander Dennis in major Australian deal BBC News 7 June 2012
  25. ^ Custom Coaches at Royal Park has been placed in administration with 100 jobs at risk Adelaide Advertiser 30 May 2014
  26. ^ Custom Coaches sold – 120 jobs retained Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine Deloitte 18 August 2014
  27. ^ Burgess buys back Custom Coaches Australasian Bus & Coach 18 August 2014
  28. ^ Consortium Announces Purchase of Custom Coaches from Administration Custom Coaches 19 August 2014
  29. ^ Custom Coaches closure in Adelaide means dozens of jobs will go ABC News 18 July 2014
  30. ^ Custom bus sacks 122 Sydney staff after going into administration ABC News 2 February 2018
  31. ^ Custom Bus Premises Vacated; Telfords confirms new production location Australian Bus & Coach 5 April 2018
  32. ^ Mechanic turns bus company full circle Penrith City Council
  33. ^ "Sydney's Custom Bus Group Finishes 100th Bus". Australian Bus & Coach. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  34. ^ "CUSTOM ACQUIRES DENNING; NEW CITY BUS LAUNCH AT BUSVIC 2019". Australasian Bus & Coach. 3 September 2019. Archived from the original on 8 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  35. ^ Building the future: High praise for locally based bus manufacturer Western weekender 17 February 2021
  36. ^ "The SHOWBUS Bus Builders Directory - Custom Coaches". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - Busabout Fleet List". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  38. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - CDC Operator Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  39. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - Victorian Operator Fleet Lists". 5 November 2014. Archived from the original on 5 November 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  40. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - New South Wales Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  41. ^ a b "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - Admet Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  42. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  43. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - NSW Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  44. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  45. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - Transdev NSW Fleet List". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  46. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  47. ^ "CB80 - Australian Manufacturing Low Floor City Bus | Custom Bus - Moving people since 1955". 24 February 2018. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  48. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  49. ^ "The Element - Zero Emission Bus | Custom Denning". Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  50. ^ "Custom Denning Element available now! | Custom Denning". Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  51. ^ "Busways charging ahead with world first order of Custom Denning electric buses | Busways". Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  52. ^ transportnsw (2 September 2021). "State Transit Places Electric Bus Order". Transport NSW Blog. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  53. ^ Hill, Joshua S. (14 February 2022). "NSW puts in order for another 79 electric buses from Sydney factory". The Driven. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  54. ^ "CUSTOM DENNING EARNS $70 MILLION NSW E-BUS CONTRACT". Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  55. ^ "Custom Denning launches first Victorian electric bus". Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  56. ^ Roberts, Peter (11 March 2021). "Custom Denning to launch electric bus in the UK - report". Australian Manufacturing Forum. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  57. ^ "Element H2- Hydrogen Fuel Cell | Custom Denning". Retrieved 16 April 2023.

External links[edit]