Recreational Vehicles, or RVs, also known as motor homes, motorcoaches, and “land yachts” celebrated 100 years of existence last year.
One could easily kill a day on the web by using the search terms "weird," "strange," or "crazy" plus "RVs". Do-it-yourself seems to be a favorite ethos for the RV crowd, so there are too many customized motor homes to consider showing them all here. Instead, we’ve selected some of the most odd and unusual standouts, and present them in order from the smallest on up to the ones with more square footage than some non-mobile homes.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 18 Mar 2011
Price: €29,370,00; approx. $41,165 USD
Technically this is a trailer, but it doesn’t behave like one. Get a load of this thing—It’s a mini-Sydney Opera House that you can bring into the forest! Also: it’s heated.
The Opera is made by YSIN and has a teak veranda, an external shower, two electrically adjustable beds that can convert into one, hot running water, a ceramic toilet, a refrigerator, and low-energy LED lighting.
Created in the Netherlands and marketed as a “mobile holiday package,” the Opera is a mobile accommodation with striking modern design. The camper’s creators seek to cultivate a more adult-oriented and upscale camping experience—a nod to the more rustic tradition of camping with the amenities of today. To enhance the brand further, YSIN created a guidebook for Opera owners listing intimate, high-quality campgrounds.
Price: 3,500,000 Yen to construct (approx. $
When Japanese student Gyo Kumata and two of his friends graduated from high school, they decided to travel all around Japan and to Yakushima Island. They built this two-story camper for their mission, essentially a small house on a truck, so they’d have enough storage room for their equipment. The build took two years, since as they explain on the websitedetailing their travels, none of them were engineers or carpenters.
Considering that, their achievement is even more impressive. The unique homemade accommodation features a Japanese-style room with skylight on the second level (“We sleep seeing the star,” reads a caption on the website). Down below is a kitchen with two-burner gas rings, a rice cooker and an icebox, a bathroom, cork flooring, and a deck. Between the two levels is a staircase that doubles as storage.
The second floor opens via air cylinders, and an electronically controlled outrigger keeps the unit stable when the house is in use. It took two legs of travel, and almost a year spent on the road, but the friends completed their goals.
Price: Starts at $500,000 (Amerigo)
The Unicat is an off-roading RV whose manufacturers position it as a rescue, escape or survival module (and we can’t help but notice how well suited it is for zombie preparedness).
UNICATAmericas makes a family version (Amerigo), a professional version and custom configurations, with such features and options as a Mercedes Benz off-road chassis, electric range, microwave, ceramic toilet, full-size shower, teak floors, LED lights, Spectra Aquifer reverse osmosis water maker, a self-extrication kit, emergency outside lighting, and a BGAN global communications system.
In professional capacity, Unicats serve as search-and-rescue vehicles, natural disaster survival, remote eco-tourism vehicles, off-road ambulances, fire-fighting trucks, professional film crew trucks, and off-road racing support vehicles. One example of a custom Unicat is the MaxiMog,which can ford five feet of water, climb inclines up to 45 degrees, and accommodate passengers in temperatures ranging from –70F to +130F.
A more environmentally oriented off-roading RV is the Earthroamerexpedition vehicle, or XV, whch can run on renewable energy sources like solar power and biodiesel.
Price: $850,000 - $1.2 million
The concept of an amphibious recreational vehicle keeps popping up on design blogs, but most don’t seem to make it past the artists’rendering stage. Despite how unbelievable it looks, the luxury amphibious motor coach TerraWind is real, although it’s currently one-of-a-kind.
“It is real, we’ve done the pony show many a time,” says Julie Giljam, co-owner of Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International (CAMI) which made the vehicle, adding that when she and her husband John do drive into a river, lake or bay, it often causes alarm, attracting police or fire trucks and tow trucks whose drivers think there’s been an accident.
John and Julie Giljam hadn’t even finished making their prototype TerraWind when the media caught wind. A newspaper story led to the TerraWind’s introduction on Good Morning America.
The vehicle was built first like a boat, then the RV part was added onto that. “When were sure the integrity of the hull, then we built it up to be a motocoach. Only way you know it swims is the back. So it really throws people off when we drive into the water,” Julie says.
It sleeps 4 comfortably, and has a swim platform, two slideouts (and pontoons to offset the slideouts and maintain balance), teak cabinets, granite counters, a dishwasher, washer and dryer, a 42-inch plasma TV, a Jacuzzi, and a storage “basement.”
So do the Giljams ever get to use their TerraWind? Between running a business and international business trips, they’ve certainly thrown the vehicle's anchor, but they don’t get to use it as often as they’d like to. They plan to take the grandkids out soon, and meanwhile when they see the TerraWind in the showroom, “We go and we pat her side.”
As for other amphibious RVs that did make it past the design stage, a vintage example of this concept was the Amphibious “Thing", and there’s also the boatorhome, but with the latter only the boat part detaches to go in the water.
Price: The Platinum Plus debuted at $2.5 million
Vantare makes the luxury recreational vehicle the Platinum Plus that was distinguished at its debut five years ago as the most expensive RV, as well as other less opulent but still luxurious models. Featherlite Coaches are also the official luxury coach of NASCAR.
Some features and options of Featherlite’s more “common” yachts on wheels: sofas or recliners, marble, granite or carpet flooring, back up and side-view cameras, Corian counters, electric privacy shades, touch screen controls, choice of entertainment center features (think tailgating: grills, coolers, refrigerators), electric power awnings.
As for that Platinum Plus top-of-the-line model… it had a sports car stored beneath where a mere mortal bus might have luggage storage, as well as Inca marble steps, Italian leather ceilings, African sapele Pommele veneer on the dash, a custom Italian sofa with double recliners, a king-size bed with a plasma TV that rises out of the footboard, onyx shower walls, and many more details as described here.
Price: $85,000 (as shown, pre-owned)
This particular 2005 Teton Experience M5 REL-GX Fifth Wheel RV served as an on-set refuge for actors and actresses in its previous service on single-day movie shoots, as evidenced by custom detailing like a makeup station with sink and a built-in floor safe.
The 45-foot space includes a fireplace, king size bed, plenty of closet space, a drop-down TV in the bedroom, Sierra Aurora- topped kitchen island, cherry-stained cabinets, a convection oven, JVC receiver, surround sound, and flat screen TV, two ultra leather recliners, a sleeper sofa, and a lit corner shower.
Price: Per Tour
Germany’s Rolling Hotels ("Rotels") make treks to destinations throughout Europe, Asia, the United States, and Africa. It is not a traditional motor home, but more like a group tour bus with sleeper accommodations, or the sleeper car of a train.
Passengers each get a berth of about six feet long by three feet wide by three feet high with a zippered curtain. Alas, there are no showers.
If you think this mode of group travel will never work, Rotels have been rolling since 1959, according to Jalopnik, and 3,400 of them exist.
Price: Upon request only
Was ist Der Bus? It’s a German luxury double deck articulated coach with suggested uses such as “ business, entertainment, PR events and private use (e.g. falcon hunting).”
And what fine falcon hunting that would be, with an 8-person passenger area, VIP lounge with white leather walls, bedroom/conference room, living room with yellow and black leather couches, kitchen and dining area, guest berths, a bathroom, and a storage room.
DerBus was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 as the biggest mobile home.