#52 - 1963 AEC Reliance

Built in 1963, this rare, historic bus is quite possibly the last one left in existence in Australia. The bus is 1 of only 11 built with this body design and only 1 of 5 with an AEC chassis.

The bus is a 1963 AEC Reliance with Denning body, built for Greyhound to operate primarily the Toowoomba to Brisbane service. Later years saw the coach operate for Parlorcars in Victoria and Centralian Tours before being purchased by Dennis Maxwell from Wilmot. Dennis, and wife Jeanette, were operating extended tours across Tasmania for numerous school groups, Tasmanian Government's Tasbureau and the service run between Devonport and Cradle Mountain - a service they operated for close to 50yrs. The bus was ahead of it's time, with jet-air conditioning, air brakes, air suspension, and "enough power to tame the Tassie mountains" in Dennis' words.

Dennis Maxwell, operated the coach from 1974 - 1992, obtained from Centralian Tours when they went broke (for monies owed), before upgrading. From there, the vehicle sat on his property at Lilaco (near Devonport) before he kindly donated the bus to the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society for preservation and restoration.

Although the Society had high hopes for the vehicle, even with some bus building skills within our group, it was quite apparent, the vehicle was more than we could handle. Years of salt air from Bass Strait had deteriorated the framework considerably, so much so it needs to be completely replaced. Many parts could be recycled, but it took numerous businesses and members offering their time and expertise to restore this classic coach, once the framework had been professionally reconstructed.

 

This was achieved through a Tasmanian Community Fund Grant of $50,000, which allowed restoration to commence with professional bus building business, reconstructing the deteriorated framework.

This was the start of a painstaking 4yrs, to resurrect this beautiful coach (see Restoration Page for full story). Now completed, this coach is our pride & joy, because of it's rareness, being the only one of it's kind left in Australia. In time, the Society hope to register the coach, and offer trips around the state for members, but also display the coach across Tasmania at numerous truck/car shows and possibly mainland displays, giving the whole Tasmanian community an opportunity to see how tourists travelled years ago.

The Maxwell's are renown across the NW Coast of Tasmania and have contributed extensively to the bus industry in our state, giving a lot of his time for free, assisting community groups and servicing one of the most beautiful areas of Tasmania for over 50yrs.

To talk to people in Tasmania who know the Maxwells, there is not a bad word spoken, and considering his contribution to the state with tourism, community work, industry advocate, the Society are very conscious to give back to the family as a legacy to their passion and commitment to the Tasmanian tourism industry.

In 2015, Dennis Maxwell was inducted into the National Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, as recognition of his contribution to the bus/tourism industry. Unfortunately, Dennis passed away late 2020 after a short illness, never seeing the completed restoration.

Launch after Restoration
Launch after Restoration

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Heading out for the launch
Heading out for the launch

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Workhorse for Greyhound Australia
Workhorse for Greyhound Australia

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Launch after Restoration
Launch after Restoration

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Specifications

Chassis: AEC Reliance

 

Engine: Originally AEC 570

           Repowered AEC 691

 

Cylinders: 6 in line

 

Output: Originally (570) 159bhp

       Later repower (691) 206 bhp

 

Displacement: Originally 9.6lt (570)

             Later repowered 11.3lt (691)

 

Mounting: Mid-mount

 

Transmission: Originally AEC 5spd constant mesh

    Retro-fitted 12spd ZF constant mesh with splitter

 

Body: Denning (#39)

 

Capacity: 45

 

Features: Jet Air Conditioning

                 Reclining seats

                 Air Bag Suspension