I want a Doubleback! Ultimate Stealth!

Well, OK… maybe the next time I win the lottery. But you need to see this. I just got this on one of my Google Alerts, and was simply blown away by it!

The whole thruth is, I’m a little jealous. For years I have had the idea of being able to extend the floor space of a van with a rear slide out. My idea wasn’t this long, and would have been under a stock rear liftgate. But they have topped my idea by a “long” shot! The logistics of my idea was more than I wanted to tackle, but they have really gone the “extra length” to show me up! They have accomplished exactly what I had in mind, and done it better than I ever could!

Meet the Doubleback! http://doubleback.co.uk

Now THAT is a real piece of ingenuity! I could see us traveling in perfect comfort and luxury in this thing, and having more than enough floor space! And it even has standing room, and enough beds to even have a pajama party! Well, OK, maybe just room for kids or a guest, what with having a huge rear bed, plus a side gaucho (or maybe two) that makes into a bed, plus the one in the pop-top!  And all this in a fairly fuel-efficient vehicle that won’t break the budget to actually get out and do some serious traveling!

Don’t forget that this vehicle will go where any car will go, including in most garages, and it will do it while getting about 36 MPG (avg)! That’s better than our minivans can do and this thing is half again their size! And don’t worry about that HOA complaining about parking your RV in your driveway! It doesn’t look any different than any other passenger van! If you had to park somewhere where you had to use your stealth ability, you can still get into the van from the back to use the dinette or bed in the back (in the slideout section which at that point would be within the van) , as well as the utilities in the front. Just leave the top down, and with blackout curtains, no one would know you were in there at night!

Now all I have to do is figure out how to come up with the price tag ($87,000) plus the shipping to get one over here! They’re made in South Wales, in the U.K., but it sounds like they are willing to please… on everything from customization to getting it where it needs to go! Based on other articles I’ve read, you can figure on another $5000 (roughly) to have one shipped to the U.S.

My next thought is… if they can come up with things like this in other countries, what’s wrong with our own ingenuity! Why haven’t some of these American RV companies come up with a slide-out like this on a van? For that matter, if we can’t build them, then why haven’t any U.S. dealers been trying to get them over here?

With the economy going down the tubes and people looking for less expensive ways to travel and do some RV’ing, I would think this rig will fill a growing need! We need them in THIS country! C,mon manufacturers and dealers! Make it happen!

As a side note, you’ll also notice in that article, a link to an amphibious RV product, but I have my doubts about this one. (http://sealander.de)

Although I am normally a fan of Danish products, and the product is definitely unique, and can be towed with a fuel efficient vehicle, I think it is way too small to be taken seriously. Not only are the amenities limited to a couple of side bunk beds, but consider how it is going to act in the water. Not only is it short, but also appears to be no more than about five feet wide. The video shows it in calm water… and I figure that’s for a reason.

Even though it has what they call a “sunroof” the sides are too tall to be practical for any kind of fishing. You’re always going to have walls in your way. Yeah, you could dive off the front “deck”, but there’s barely room to stand on it, let alone set a deck chair out there. And if all you are going to do is ride around inside on calm days at maybe 2 MPH, then I don’t see the point. But then I’m not a big “boater”. Anyone see anything that I’m NOT seeing?

The concept is good. I just think they need to make it in a slightly larger size to be of any practical use as a dual purpose camping/boating vehicle. It needs a slightly larger front deck on it to start. If the interior were large enough to accommodate the minimal things that a minivan camper can contain, which means an interior at least eight feet long, a front deck of at least three feet, and a width of at least six feet, it would make it more useable on land as well as more stable in the water. Yes, I know it would add more weight to it and make it less fuel efficient, but with everything, there must be some common sense compromise.

What are your thoughts on these two vehicles?

Update: 2/10/12, 4:56 PM CST:

A reader just sent me a note as follows:

“You can buy a lot of gasoline for $86,491 — which is what this
costs in the UK.  Nice idea, but a crazy price.

Thanks for the link
though.”

I have to agree that the price is a whale of lot of money for us average folks, and short of winning a major lottery, it’s not in our own future, which is why I came up with the minivan camper concept. However, such reports as these shouldn’t be ignored, because there’s more behind them than just face value. If you download the pdf brochure, you can get a more accurate floor plan, which shows that there is a location for a porta-potty not visible in the pictures. It’s right at the foot of the bed, on the opposite side of the kitchen sink console.

I know that many of you out there are using full size vans. I would prefer an extended van like the Maxi’s that I used to own. My Dodges were exactly 12-feet behind the driver’s seat at floor level. I’m not sure, but I think some of the Chevy/GMC extended vans might even be a hair longer.

Think with me on this…what if you were to use the same concept as that slide-out in the back of an extended van? You could have a three-way couch bed, that makes a dinette when against the wall, the seats of which would fold up for hauling things, or made into a full bed with the back cushions down! You still have enough room in the front on the driver’s side for a small dinette or gaucho seating (in case you preferred to leave the bed as a bed.

The bed, and enough room for the porta-potty at the foot of the bed will take up about 8-feet. A sink unit like that takes up about three feet, and it could be put on the passenger side, where it would be close to the door. Some modifications to make things like the stove and/or sink swing out like the one on the van from the Netherlands, would let you use them outside if you preferred. Or a simple cabinet combined with a portable sink and Coleman stove keeps things even more portable (and less costly). I’ll bet you could even find enough room for a small closet and/or pantry.

But don’t foget, if you leave the bed as a bed, you have all the storage space under the bed, too, and might even have some under the dinette seating!

Also, looking at the floor plan from the top, and even viewing it visually from the front, it very much resembles most of the truck campers that I have seen, except that this bed is in the back instead of being over the cab.

So… the main reason that I show you these kinds of vehicles isn’t because I expect you to go out and buy one! Think about the floor plans and concepts used in these kinds of vehicles, and then think about how you might be able to incorporate some of those ideas into something more affordable! Something as simple as that swing-out stove on the van from the Netherlands is not that hard to build! If you prefer your kitchen at the back of your van, the idea can just as well be used there as at the side door!

This is how we, as designers, come up with new ideas, by seeing what other people have done, and then using the best of those ideas to formulate a whole new design. We don’t just look at something and say “Oh nice, but I can’t afford THAT!” We look at what goes into it, how it’s laid out, how it’s built, and then we adapt it to what we CAN afford.

Sure, an extended van like we drive here in the states isn’t going to get 36 miles per gallon (which would be extrememly nice!), but they are readily available and can be modified to work!

Some people say they couldn’t live in a van without standup room. Yes, you could. So how do you do things like work in the kitchen? You buy (or make) a small rolling storage stool similar to what mechanics use, and you can sit and work at your stove or sink and roll around to reach other things without having to get up! How do you take a shower? Look at my main web site under “ice chests” (yes, that’s right. LARGE ice chests!) and you will see the answer to that, and I even give you the source for them!

There are all kinds of answers out there to solve nearly all of the concerns about using a van to travel or to live in. Do the research, and learn to think outside the box! And never doubt for a minute that you CAN’T do it, because thousands of people just like us are doing it every day!

As always… share your thoughts!