Originally Posted by HappyInTN
Thomas, Bluebird, Gillig are some of the best built busses. We bought an Amtram and it was built like crap.. fortunately the coachbuilders didn't build our engine, transmission, and chassis.
You want a DT466 or Cummins 5.9 engine.. I recommend an Allison transmission.
I prefer front engine of rear but its subjective. Also, my opinion is Air Breaks are really nice to have.
You'll get a range of opinions, op. I've had two Thomas buses are both seemed much more cheaply and crappily made than the Internationals aka AmTrans. Buses and build quality... they vary.
I currently have an IC and a Thomas and the IC is waaaaaay nicer and seems to be better put together.
All the major brands of buses are good enough. Bluebird, thomas, International... They're all good. Its the running gear and spec that MAKE a bus better than another. Not the brand.
Crowns and Gilligs are nice, but they're vintage and they're also pretty rare compared the the "big three".
An "allison transmission" is all anyone is going to find in a school bus unless its a manual transmission.
An Allison 643, 2000, or 3060 are the ones to look for. I'd stay away from the 545 unless you plan to stay in town tooling around slow.