1910 is the year cited by historians as the beginning of what was to become the modern RV industry, and the business has certainly come a long way since the first auto campers, camping trailers and touring Landau’s took to the road.“The first motorized campers were built in 1910,” says Woodworth, a preeminent collector of early RVs and RV camping memorabilia. “Before then, people camped in private rail cars that were pulled to sidings along train routes. The year 1910 brought a new freedom to people who didn’t want to be limited by the rail system. RVs allowed them to go where they wanted, when they wanted.”
The modern motorhome industry consists of a remarkable collection of coach builders, chassis manufacturers and component suppliers in both the United States and beyond. It includes iconic brands like Winnebago and Airstream as well as innovators and entrepreneurs like Volkner, Reitz and Stauber. Examiner’s “Ten best Motorhomes” list is based on those companies whose design and engineering innovations we believe challenged conventional wisdom by offering innovative options to their customers. If you have other suggestions please leave your own comments at the end of the article.
- Action Mobil Desert Challenger (Austria) – World’s Best Off-Road RV
The colossal 30 ton, five miles per gallon, Desert Challenger is a €1.5 million Euro ($1.75 million) bespoke four-axle off-road motorhome and a true goliath amongst RV’s. This ultimate 8x8 all wheel drive RV -which uses the same chassis as the Patriot missile system – is built to a Bundeswehr (German Army) specification that called for “a truck that can follow a main battle tank into any terrain at the same speed, fully loaded.” Awesome! Read the full Article | Check out the slideshow |
- Country Coach Veranda (USA) – World’s Best RV Living Room with a View
The innovative Country Coach Veranda debuted in July 2008 and – just as the name suggests – came equipped with its own 13’x 4’6” veranda. Accessed via sliding Arcadia glass doors, the veranda was constructed with dual steel layers and covered in woven vinyl. The veranda was capable of carrying a load of 3,000lbs and could be extended in just 20 seconds. It could also be accessorized with a LCD TV, barbeque and folding table and chairs.
Sadly, Oregon based Country Coach -- founded in 1973 -- was one of many motorhome manufacturers forced out of business by the recent recession – their assets were sold in February, 2010. Read the article: Country Coach assets to be sold at auction | Check out the slideshow |
- “Der Bus” Neoplan Jumbocruiser (Germany) – World’s Biggest RV
This double deck articulated coach was made by Germany’s Neoplan Bus GmbH - part of MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG. The Jumbocruiser was originally introduced by Neoplan in 1975 and could carry a maximum of 144 passengers – the last Jumbocruiser was produced in 1993. “Der Bus” is 18 metres long, 4 metres high and 2.5 metres wide with a total weight of 28 tons. Powered by a Daimler-Benz Diesel Injection 12 cylinder V-type engine with 440 PS it was equipped with an Allison HAT 750m CR automatic transmission. The Vehicle has seats for 8 passengers plus the driver and includes a VIP lounge with bar, living room, kitchen, dining area, bathroom and two bedrooms. There is a small garage in the rear section which could handle bikes and ATV’s.
In October 1997 in Berlin, Guinness declared “Der Bus” to be the biggest RV in the world. The Jumbo Cruiser was the largest articulated bus ever produced by Neoplan. In 2010, they debuted the double deck Skyliner a 505hp, 13.9 meter long, 4.0 meter high coach which will go into production in 2012. The record for the world’s largest articulated single deck bus is claimed by China based Zhejiang Young Man Vehicle Group. Their 25-meter-long “Superliner” has three sections, four axles, five doors, 40 seats and can carry up to 300 passengers. Additional Information: “Der Bus” website | Check out the slideshow |
- Marathon Coach Corporation (USA) – World’s first quad slide RV
Marathon Coach Inc. bills itself as the “world’s largest luxury bus converter and dealer” and it’s certainly true to say that no “world’s best” list would be complete without their inclusion. Marathon debuted the world’s first quad-slide Prevost H3-45 coach (#1123) in November, 2007. With dual salon and bedroom slide-outs, the coach had a spacious interior with European-inspired design features and mother-of-pearl accents throughout. Established in 1983, the Coburg, Oregon based manufacturer produces luxury coaches that range in price from $1.5 to $2.5 million Additional Information: Marathon Coach | Check out the slideshow |
- Most Futuria (Germany) – World’s Best Tractor-Trailer RV Combo
Futuria’s new custom built Tractor-Trailer RV combo debuted in August at the 2010 Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany. This limited edition corporate motorhome has been described as “Eine Villa auf Rädern" - a Villa on Wheels - which is hardly surprising as this sixteen ton, fifteen meter behemoth comes complete with an eleven foot roof terrace with a Whirpool bath plus built in LED roof lighting system and a car garage with stern ramp. Read the full Article | Check out the slideshow | Related: The world’s best mega RV trailers
- Parliament Coach Corporation (USA) – World’s Best Nuclear Proof RV
In 2005, Parliament Coach Corporation and Homeland Defense Vehicles partnered to create a $1.2 million luxury recreational vehicle (RV) that was designed specifically to withstand the effects of a nuclear attack. The RV included a $100,000 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical filtration system which - at the flick of a dashboard switch - could seal the motorhome and then employ positive air pressure and multiple filters to cleanse the atmosphere. Read the full Article | Check out the slideshow |
- Stauber Actro Liner 1200+1 (Germany) – World’s Best RV Bedroom with a View
Based in Goddert, Germany -Stauber Motorhomes manufacture a range of specialist RV’s which include the 3-axle, diesel powered Actro Liner 1200+1. This is a 12 metre long motorhome on a Mercedes chassis which – with both slides extended – also provides a nearly 14 foot wide (425 centimetre) living area. The €425,000 Euro ($595,000) rig created by Manfred Stauber includes an extendable rear car garage (which can house a BMW 5 series), marble floors and steam shower but the pièce de résistance has to be the rising master bedroom which has to be seen to be believed. Ausgezeichnet! Additional Information: Stauber Motorhomes | Check out the slideshow |
- Terra Wind (USA) – World’s Best Amphibious RV
The prototype Terra Wind Class “A” amphibious RV, manufactured by Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International (CAMI), debuted on ABC’s Good Morning America back in July 2003. Designed by John Giljam, the 35,000lb and 42.5 foot long Terra Wind Motorhome prototype was powered by a single Caterpillar 3126E 330 horse power diesel engine which could achieve speeds of up to 85 mph on land and up to 7 knots in the water. Read the full Article | Check out the slideshow |
Related: Europe’s best motorhomes
- Travel Supreme ME (USA) – World’s first mid-engined RV
The ME was built by Elkhart, Indiana based RV maker Travel Supreme who were one of the many casualties of the economic recession – they went out of business in 2008. The ME was a 41-foot long Class A motorhome built on a mid-engine chassis – the Me2 - built exclusively by Spartan. The chassis engine was situated in the middle of the coach, below the frame rails which allowed for more room, better design flexibility, improved performance and better ride and handling. The coach included two slide-outs and a 12-foot deep (440 cubic feet) storage garage located in the rear of the coach. The garage incorporated a hydraulic lift which allowed owners to park their favorite "toys" - personal watercrafts, ATVs, motorcycles or even a small car - inside the vehicle. The Travel Supreme ME was powered by a 400-hp Cummins diesel power plant and had a base MSRP of $300,000.
Travel Supreme – established in 1989 in Wakarusa, Indiana – were the leading manufacturer of fifth wheels in the USA. In 1999 they began manufacturing upscale, customized diesel motorhomes. Their assets were purchased by Jayco in April, 2008. | Check out the slideshow |
- Volkner Mobil Performance (Germany) – World’s Best RV
The Volkner Mobil Performance is a stunning 460hp, $1.5 million (€855,000 and up) bespoke diesel pusher on a Volvo bus chassis that comes equipped with its own hydraulic drop down-slide out vehicle cargo bay. Built by Germany’s Volkner Mobil, a highly innovative commercial vehicle manufacturer based in Wuppertal, the designers discarded the conventional US toy box design and instead opted for a cargo bay situated between the axles of this remarkable coach that debuted in 2006. The larger model can easily accommodate a vehicle up to 16 feet (5m) in length including; a BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK or even a Maserati Quattroporte. Read the full Article | Check out the slideshow |