We know that you ALL know that Volkswagen was essentially the founding father of all things campervans.
That's universally-accepted knowledge.
Because everyone has seen or heard about the original split-screen Veedubs. Which have now been bookended by the advent of Volkswagen’s first EV camper; the ID.Buzz.
There’s also been a shed load of uber cool, era-defining campervans in between, lest we forget.
But just what other iconic campervans have been manufactured/out there, that might have gone beneath your radar until now/this blog?
Put it this way, you’ll be surprised by some of the shock names we’re going to throw into the hat. In terms of manufacturing bases.
Although naming aside, with many of the not-so-usual suspects being American, the narrative has understandably gone large.
Very large in some quarters.
With dimensional bragging rights hotly contested.
What's more, it appears swampers were 'a thing' right back when. And not the modern day phenomenon we believe them to be.
When’s a Fiat Campervan NOT A Fiat Campervan? When It’s An Alfa, Like, Durr….
But we’ll start with a more diminutive European campervan which is arguably the best-kept secret we’ve ever been privy to.
That being, one of Italy’s finest exponents of desirable cars, has actually got a (very short) history of putting its marker/badge on a campervan. And pretty much doing just that.
Nope, we’re not referring to a Fiat Ducato.
But more Alfa Romeo.
A moniker which instantaneously conjures up some fairly romantic automotive visions, on account of it being an Alfa. Along with the 35 AR8 Ravello campervan as observed hereabouts.
Which was, essentially, the (then) new Fiat Daily van re-branded for an alternative marketing demographic.
Back in 1979 all Alfa thought it had to do was lend Fiat its iconic V-shield, and Bob’s your proverbial #vanlifing uncle. The jury remains out to whether or not it was a success.
.......Remaining in a glorious 1970’s-tinged campervanning heyday, we now cross the pond for our first foray into pure Americana campervan exploits. Yet strangely courtesy of a manufacturer more at home circumnavigating utilitarian landscapes. Rather than pitching up in scenic vistas.
Your Mobile Living Arrangements Plonked On Top Of A Ute, Anyone?....
The Jeep Gladiator (no reference to Russell Crowe), is a bit of a space oddity.
In as much as it’s essentially a pick-up truck with a camper attachment seemingly welded on top.
Equals instant campervan conversion, etc, etc.
Inside was characterised by acres of timber, contrasted with 1970’s flock wallpaper, an onboard WC facility and a dinette which could be fashioned into a 50in bed. And yes. We just referred to a 'dinette'.
Three options were available to interested parties, including ‘Matador, Toreador’ and the curiously-named, ‘Chassis’.
Greta Garbo Gave Good Face.…
When Madonna was vogue-ing it back in the 1990’s, we’re pretty confident that the Queen of Pop wasn’t envisaging the Chevrolet Vogue.
But you never know, we could be wrong.
What this particular ‘Vogue’ could have easily done however, was to provide vast swathes of accommodation for her and her Madge's entourage when on tour. Given the various zip codes this sizable, custom-built RV spanned, even when stationary.
Manufactured between 1974 -1999, lengths started at a not inconsiderate 24ft, and expanded to 45ft (courtesy of a double rear axle set-up).
Action Mobile Desert Challenger
Now, we are very partial to the swamper concept as has been visually documented in these here parts.
But our Veedub swampers are lost somewhere in the draconian shadow cast by this monstrously large overlander.
Despite taking on the rugged appearance of a fully zombie-proof utilitarian vehicle that could circumnavigate a post-apocalyptic landscape with ease, the 600bhp engine-powered Desert Challenger was an altogether different proposition once inside.
Replete with a stainless steel kitchen, an extendable oriental-inspired living room (activated at the touch of a button) and a 300-litre walk-in fridge, all mod-cons were amply taken care of.
When names were handed out to overlander-esque swamper campervans, then you have to admit; Earthcruiser Unimog is right up there.
Making it sound like some sort of automotive superhero akin to Thor. And probably housing Thor’s hammer somewhere about its metal off-roading form.
In essence, the Unimog is a Mercedes re-purposed for #vanlife.
Especially if your idea of van life takes in inhospitable lunar landscapes and post-apocalyptic terrains. Re-purposed by an Australian campervan conversion outfit steeped in designing vehicles for the Aussie outback.
For over 65 years, Earthcruiser has been manufacturing special bodies for all-wheel-drive motorhomes. In this particular instance mated to 300bhp Merc underpinnings, tanks which contain 860-litres of water, 800-litres of fuel, 2 fridges, electrical winch, washing machine, BBQ, a chainsaw and 5 external CCTV cameras.
It can also cope with -40 degree temps.
Literally, and physically, a ‘go-anywhere’ campervan.
Let’s get one thing straight.
Some campervan conversions are an acquired taste.
Meanwhile, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and/or subjective.
In 1939 all of the above was at the forefront of General Motors’ mind, when they decided to branch out into stylish motorhomes.
What actually manifest after what we understand to have been marketing department brainstorming sessions was this. The Futurliner.
A 20-ft tall bus direct from the future.
Think of how 1950s American comic books viewed things half a century on, when Marty McFly thumbed through such a journal in ‘Back to the Future’. And the GM Futurliner pretty much materialises in front of your eyes.
Long, wide, freakishly tall and narrow, GM’s big idea was more about showcasing the company’s tech and innovation than to necessarily create a practical, accessible, family-friendly campervan.
12 were put into production so as to participate in America’s ‘Parade of Progress’.
Afterwards, the 12 vehicles were sold, with just one fully converted into a motorhome. Complete with bar and diner seating, obvs.
The Corvair Ultravan
Dreamt up by an aircraft designer, the Ultravan’s body therefore unsurprisingly mimics that of a fuselage.
In as much as the body is of a monocoque aluminum and fiberglass composite structure.
Whilst the middle is constructed of aluminum, and the rounded ends are reinforced fiberglass; just to complete the construction picture.
The Ultravan was even built at a wartime aircraft production site, where approximately 370 units rolled off the campervan conveyor belt. 40 of which were fitted with a Corvette-sourced small-block V8 under the hood.
The Ultravan tipped the scales at just 3,000 pounds fully equipped.
Which is roughly 500 pounds lite of a 1962 Chevrolet Impala saloon to afford you a better idea. Impressive figures given it was fully loaded with a bed, fridge, cabinets, bathroom, seating and various other mod cons.
The Past, Present And Future.....
If you're after a more contemporary campervan conversion, then you really need to speak with us.
While our bespoke creations aren't what you might describe as 'out there' (at least in comparison to some of the above leftfield-thinkers), we have a pleasing habit of designing and converting a back catalogue of cool campers which put massive smiles on our customers' faces.