1989 - Volume #13, Issue #6, Page #31[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He Built a Motorhome on Top of His Chrysler
The "Cozy Cruiser", as Weber calls it, sleeps four adults and two children and is built right into the trunk and rear seat of the car, a 4-door sedan. Aluminum panels are fastened. to a wooden framework that's bolted to an angle iron frame welded along the inside of the car. The motorhome's side door merges with one of the car's rear doors to open as a unit, and the rear window is the car's original rear window, placed upside down.
"My wife and I drove it to Yellowstone National Park last summer and stopped to listen to a park ranger deliver a talk. It wasn't long before more people had gathered around our motorhome than around the ranger," says Weber. "People often say it looks like something out of the future. I built it in 1965, but it's still 10 years ahead of any-thing in its size or class. It travels beautifully, giving my wife and I the quiet and comfort of a luxury automobile with all the amenities of a motorhome, including a carpeted floor, refrigerator, cabinets, stove with deluxe oven, clothes closet, sink and electric water pump, flush toilet, tape deck, and a one-leg table that converts to a double bed.
"I built it because there was nothing on the market that fit our needs. I didn't want to buy a motorhome mounted on a 21/2-ton truck that got only 5 mpg, and I didn't want to buy a new pickup camper because they ride rougher, are prone to swaying with elevated loads due to their inadequate sus-pension, and have a higher center of gravity. They're difficult to load and unload, and they're not as safe to use because you need a jack to slide the camper on and off the pickup. Also, exhaust fumes can enter through the camper's window and affect the comfort and health of the passengers.
"Our Cozy Cruiser is at home at my favorite fishing hole, but it also has the class to be parked in the swankiest part of town. The car's torsion bar suspension virtually eliminates sway, and the motorhome's center of gravity is 1 to 1 1/2-ft. lower than a pickup camper for better stability and more head room. The motorhome and all its amenities add only 380 lbs. of extra weight to the car so it still gets the same 12 to 14 mpg it got before the motorhome was added. I can pass 3/4-ton pickup campers going up hills like they were standing still. The motorhome is 5 in. wider than a pickup camper and it's built right into the car so we're always ready to go."
Weber selected the Chrysler Imperial because of its heavy duty 3-speed torque-flight transmission, torsion bar suspension, big 325 hp, 392 cu. in. Hemi Chrysler engine, and heavy frame. "Cars made in the 1950's and 1960's were built heavier than today's cars. But some of the heavier mod-em cars, such as a front wheel drive Oldsmobile, Cadillac, or especially the Lincoln Town Cars could probably be converted if you beefed up the suspension system."
Weber bought the aluminum panels for the exterior of the motorhome in rolls from a local mobile home supplier. He removed the car's rear window, then cut off the rear half of the roof, the trunk, and the inside of the tail fins. On one side of the car he welded the rear door shut. The tapered rear end turned out to be aerodynamically efficient because it provides a slip stream for air moving over the window. "Engineers tell me that the tapered rear end causes 30% less wind resistance than a straight rear end found on conventional motor homes," says Weber.
Weber can operate the motorhome's lights off the car's battery or off outside 110-V electric outlets by using a 12-V transformer. The refrigerator can be powered by either electricity or butane. For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sterling Weber, 454 West Center, Logan, Utah 84321 (ph 801752-4714).
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