The mission behind the non-profit organization Beyond DA Bus, founded in 2015, is to inspire people with disabilities to actively participate in various activities with ease! Founder Chris Pulley is working to change up the automotive aftermarket game with his iconic 1957 Ford B500 “D.A (DisAbility) Short Bus.” This fully wheelchair accessible hot rod strives to erase the stereotype of how disabled people view their transportation opportunities and show that “accessible” doesn’t have to mean boring!
Chris is an avid supporter of being active even with limited mobility. Since he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a form of Muscular Dystrophy – at the age of 12, Chris progressed from walking, to cane assistance, to a manual wheelchair. Even with his physical limitations, Chris decided that he would let not that shape the way he lived his life. Chris has pursued water skiing, snow skiing, and scuba diving…and his adventurous spirit carries over to his passion for cars. He’s taken his handicapped modified 2010 Challenger SRT on a few Hot Rod Power Tours & has logged some respectable run times at the track.
We first saw the D.A Short Bus at Lone Star Throwdown 2018 while it was still in-progress. This unique build lowers to the ground to allow for easier access into the vehicle for people in wheelchairs or with other limited mobilities. The lower the angle of the ramp, the easier it is for the wheelchair to attain access. Most vans today do not use bags because of reliability issues in the past. Extreme advancements in the suspension industry, though, are reintroducing the option of air suspension back into the accessible transportation world.
The D.A Short Bus is equipped with full air ride featuring four Gen. 2 485C VIAIR Compressors and Air Lift Performance 3H ride management system with two 5-gallon aluminum air tanks. The custom 2-link suspension fabricated by Nfamus Metal Fab out of Cleburne, Texas keeps the ramp angle as low as possible to accommodate wheelchair access into the vehicle.
In order to create the perfect build, Chris had to source multiple vehicles for accurate parts. The short bus shell was located in Eureka, Montana. Chris found the Ford E450 from a craigslist ad in Houston, TX to part out the 7.3l diesel engine, and the automatic transmission was renovated by Diesel Dynamics in Joshua, Texas. Summit Racing supplied the Dakota Digital gauge cluster, TMI seats, steering column and brake upgrades, to name a few. The bus is tucking 24 x 10 Big Bore dually wheels by Tennessee Wheel and Tire custom powder coated in “BLC’s Oxblood Red” by Black Label Coating, and wrapped with Nitto Terra Grappler’s 285/40R24 tires.
Swamps Diesel provided new injectors, a Wicked Wheel compressor wheel for the turbo, Hydra Chip tuner, new gaskets for the engine, fuel bowl delete kit and Edge CTS2 monitor and is supporting the build with many more “go fast” parts. FASS Diesel Fuel systems contributed a FASS Fuel system to ensure the proper fuel gets to the new injectors.
Nfamus Metal Fab seamlessly integrated a commercial BraunAbility RA300 Transit Ramp into the back for easier loading. No small feat considering the D.A. Short Bus is 60 years old! Adaptive Driving Access (ADA) helped source the ramp, hand controls, seat base and floor track system. Hand controls will allow the user the ability to operate the bus without using their feet. The 6-way transfer seat base allows the seat to rotate around for the driver to easily transfer from wheelchair to driver’s seat. The floor track system secures passenger wheelchairs and keeps folks from rolling around.
With plans to tour at SEMA 2019, Hot Rod Power Tour and other car shows, this exclusive build will also make appearances at VA hospitals, rehabilitation centers, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) events, accessibility fairs and more! The goal of the D.A. Short Bus is to reshape how the automotive industry views accessible transportation and to be an ambassador for Beyond DA Bus, connecting individuals with disabilities to activities designed to open doors once thought closed.
Keep an eye out for the completed D.A.Short Bus’ grand unveiling at the upcoming Lone Star Throwdown 2019! For more information on the D.A. Short Bus, check out their website here and follow along with their progress as they continue to break the norm for accessible transportation!
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