Bussing BS16: The crowning glory on the vehicle fleet

Manfred Haubert grew up in the haulage business. His passion for big cars continues unabated. Especially if the "car" is his Bussing BS16 .

At the Haubert forwarding agency, the boss still drives himself – not that he needs to. 14 drivers from the region move eleven tractor-trailers, and 14 trailers are also available for transporting goods. But every now and then, Manfred Haubert gets an itch in his fingers, and then he gets behind the wheel and takes another tour.

"My father still rode into old age, and I jump in too if it helps take the load off the drivers," the 60-year-old says. Therefore, he understands their daily worries, whether parking space search or break problem with the digital speedometer. Haubert's depot has showers and social rooms and, as a special feature, the "Kutscherstube" driver's restaurant. Drivers gratefully accept the offer. "This way, many can make good use of their breaks and switch off for a change," says Manfred Haubert. As early as 1988, the Kutscherstube was founded as a breakfast cafe; in the meantime, a tenant offers inexpensive daily meals, of course also for non-drivers.

STILL ON THE ROAD WITH HORSE-DRAWN VEHICLES IN GRANDFATHER'S DAY

The freight forwarder traditionally transports products and additives, which it did when it was founded: Ceramics, tiles and other building materials. In the days of Haubert's grandfather, horse-drawn carts loaded with clay still drove through the region of "Kannenbackerland," which is still one of the largest ceramic landscapes in Germany with the most varied range of products made of clay. Father Anton also worked for a company with horse-drawn vehicles, which used the first truck in 1928. In 1950, the modern age of freight forwarding began there with a long-distance transport concession, a Bussing motor truck together with a two-axle trailer, and a trip to Hamburg.

Manfred Haubert founded his own company together with his father in 1979 – also with Bussing trucks. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the company specialized in West Berlin transports, naturally for the Westerwald tile and ceramics industry. Today, there are lines to the east of Germany, to Leipzig, Dresden or the Erzgebirge and to the south as far as Linz and Vienna. The love of the Lion, however, like the love of driving, has remained with Manfred Haubert: MAN dominates the fleet, a top-restored Bussing BS16 crowns the fleet.

ACCOMPANIED BY A BLACK CLOUD OF SOOT THROUGH THE TUNNEL

"However, it was a long way until it looked like it does today," smiles Haubert. Thanks to a tip from a fellow haulier, he discovered the BS16 in Bochum in 2001 and was immediately hooked. The motorized flatcar with Trilex rims and a three-axle Theurer trailer made a good impression, the batteries were charged and the engine started right at the first start. So the truck fan acquired the good piece for 30.000 DM. The slightly stuck brakes were quickly made common and already he steered his new old through the after-work traffic in the Ruhr area.

He applied the engine brake for the first time in a tunnel, of all places, inadvertently causing a black cloud of soot to form. But years of long-distance experience paid off: Wire and side cutters solved the problem for now. For the rest of the trip, Haubert enjoyed the comfort of the smooth-running six-cylinder underfloor engine and pulled home at 90 mph.

There it went first of all to the washing and examining. The joy over the neat oldie train dimmed: The chassis and, above all, the driver's cab were badly rusty. "In some cases, you could already poke holes through the sheet metal planking with your index finger," Haubert reports. The only thing left was the complete disassembly as a rescue operation and the search for competent specialized companies.

Doubts crept in: "I really didn't know if the Bussing would ever get back on the road again. It was probably in use from 1968 to 1981 and then stood on an open-air site until 2001." Time outdoors had left nasty marks. As well as numerous, not very professional repair attempts. "Our MAN representative already saw the Bussing on the scrap heap," smiles Haubert today.

After a long search, he finally found a specialist company near Mayen that actually specializes in the construction and conversion of hearses. Fortunately for him, a retiree was working in this company, supplementing his pension with body work. "With an angel's patience and a lot of heart blood and time he got it top," raves Haubert. "He shaped and adjusted missing sheets, that was really first class craftsmanship."Actually, in this way, they have rebuilt the entire cab.

For the seats we went to an old upholsterer in Sauerland, Germany, who still had original 60s leatherette in stock. Replacement for the slightly cloudy windshield came from the Czech Republic – after a long search by a friendly auto glass supplier. "A restoration like this is only possible with contacts and good people," emphasizes Haubert, "the tarpaulin Frank here from Polch, for example, is still of the old breed, he also still knows his way around customs tarpaulins."It took more than two years until the assembly could finally start. Everything should be original again: seats, couch, lamp covers. "We also had to replace the guide for the trailer hitch," Haubert recounts. "Until I found an original part there . " With a parts supplier for commercial vehicles in Koblenz finally found it. Finally, the legendary six-cylinder underfloor engine turned out to be a rock: "We opened the heads, there was nothing to complain about at all. So we closed everything up again with new seals," says Haubert happily.

IT TOOK A LOT OF TIME AND MONEY. IF BOTH WERE THERE, THEY WENT AHEAD

He and his co-workers set about rebuilding the truck on their own, because the truck bed had really rotted through. In the meantime, Manfred's wife Doris began to have doubts: "There's nothing more to do in life."But giving up was out of the question for the Bussing enthusiast. The money, work and time invested should not have been in vain. However, his wife's critical attitude prevented him from acting rashly: "Many people take out loans because they want to get ahead quickly. But something like that was out of the question for us," was clear to Haubert. That's why he and his people always repaired when both were available: time and money.

It took ten years until the Bussing BS16 was ready to drive again and was standing in new splendor in the haulage yard. "Thank God the trailer was in pretty good shape," says Haubert. "New tarp, new paint and everything was fine. Even the air suspension bellows were still tight."

THE FAMILY BUSINESS WILL SOON BE RUN BY THE SONS

In the end, however, with a lot of after-work commitment and the help of his employees, the BS16 was restored to its former glory: fittings, seat upholstery, gasket for gasket, tarpaulins and paintwork – everything was true to the original in the end. The sons Markus and Christian were initially not quite comfortable with their father's Bussing euphoria. After all, they already consider a MAN F90 to be really old. But in the meantime, they are equally impressed by the BS16 and their father's passion. "It's already unimaginable to me that these trucks could load and transport more than 20 tons," marvels Markus, a trained logistics expert. "Above all, these trucks, including cargo, still climbed the mountains." Of course, the 25-year-old tested the Bussing himself. Conclusion: "Then driving a truck was still real work."Father Manfred agrees: "Back then, drivers had more freedom, but driving today is heaven on earth compared to the past."

Markus and Christian have been working in the family business for some time now. At the turn of the year, the senior boss wants to take a well-deserved retirement. One thing is clear, however: with the freight forwarding company, the sons are not just taking over a single presentable oldie: next to the BS16 will always be a driving-mad old-time forwarder named Manfred Haubert.