Bus Stop Classic: 1987 Bova Futura FHD 12.280 – A 21st Century Coach, Introduced In 1982

(first posted 10/8/2017)         Thirty-five years ago the Bova Futura surprised the bus and coach world with its aerodynamic, clean design and huge windshield; a smooth coach, tightly built. More than three decades later it still looks modern and fresh.

Bova’s history dates back to 1878, when Jacob Bots started a timber company in Valkenswaard, in the south of the Netherlands. In 1910 his son Simon introduced the name Bova, an acronym for Bots Valkenswaard.

The manufacturing of buses and coaches started in 1954. As was the case with Bova’s competitors, the starting point for building a bus or coach in those days was a rolling chassis supplied by a European truckmaker. Logically DAF chassis were widely used by the numerous post-war independent Dutch manufacturers, mostly small family businesses. Moreover, DAF in Eindhoven was just around the corner of the Bova production facility.

In 1969 Bova started to build self-supporting integral buses and coaches. The eye-catching Futura, introduced in September 1982, became the company’s most successful model.

The Futura I caught at the recently held 2017 DAF Museum Days is an FHD 12.280.

FHD stands for Futura High-Deck DAF. The High-Deck is 3.55 m (11’8”) tall, whereas the height of the Futura Low-Deck is 3.26 m (10’8”). The designation 12.280 means that its overall length is 12.00 m (39’4”) and that the engine’s maximum power output is 280 DIN-hp.

In this coach the power unit is an 11.6 liter inline-six DAF diesel engine with a turbocharger and intercooler. Futuras have also been equipped with Mercedes-Benz, MAN and -only in the UK- Cummins engines.

Some additional numbers: curb weight 10,820 kg (23,854 lbs), maximum GVM 16,900 lbs (37,258 lbs). As an aside, coaches are allowed to drive 100 km/h (62 mph) on the freeway.

Now let’s step inside.

Standing all the way in the back.

And the cockpit, with the shifter for the six-speed transmission in the foreground.

In my opinion this is the most outstanding, recognizable and timeless Dutch coach design ever.

In 2003 Bova was taken over by the VDL Groep, like DAF a company just around the corner. The Bova-name may not be on the buses and coaches anymore, but the Futura lives on.