Went from a short Class A (honestly was awesome but couldn't tow), to a 2001 84pass Thomas bus with a CAT (lost shop space and had to sell mid build), to a 15 pass E350 (solar, roof deck, foam insulated, etc but too SMALL...no roof height, plus V10...ughhh), to the current 7.3 Powerstroke E450 shuttle. I think this could be the holy grail compromise!
1. I can tow
2. I can stand
4. Not an aerodynamic brick
5. Extremely affordable for such a capable chassis/engine
6. 4wd conversion readily available
7. Massive windows that tip out for emergency exit are awesome
8. Much more refined/acceptable vs a school bus shape
1. Fiberglass shell creates challenges for roof deck
I'm building this platform to support my growing Youtube channel, which focuses on automotive modifications. I do mostly Corvette and Off Road, but the intent of the channel was a marketing platform to sell custom Corvette parts and launch an apparel brand.
I've officially launched the first product after the turn of the year, and did about 60k in revenue in the first 65 hours, so it's a good starting point. I aim to sponsor a few cars at drift events for promo, so I bought the shuttle allowing me to set up a booth, stay on site at track events and tow my cars to events.
The exterior livery will reflect that of my channel, but my aim is to make it "limo/lux" feel but take on a custom touch, which is inline with my channel. The vehicle will be wrapped Hexis Black Rainbow, with custom vinyl cut livery in a chrome finish wrap. The wheel simulators will likely be wrapped to match the cut vinyl.
Additional frontal off road lighting via my manufacturing contacts will be added. I will also add under-glow lighting for campsite visibility, but also for event visibility.
Lastly, removing those AWFUL mirrors that look like a damn jungle gym are going. I already have some cleaner versions coming, as well as black housing headlights, etc.
Hexis Black Rainbow on a Lambo
My prior E350 builds had 200ah of lead acid and 200w on the roof (windynation). This time I went with an Ampere 12v 200ah lithium and 300w of deployable solar, which will be stowed away. I will likely add a connection to the alternator for charging while driving and use deployable solar for stationary days. I figure I can fast-idle the bus in the event I need power. Lastly, a harbor freight 2000w generator will be added for the soft start 5000btu ac I had in the van. Will struggle in the bus, but hopefully will take the edge off.
Here, I'm going to take an approach that combines a few methods. I've had black tanks, composting and cassette toilets. I intend to combine a cassette/composting plan, by modifying a cassette toilet with some custom designed pieces. Nothing crazy, but it could be the best option of affordability and ease of use there is.
Modular is the game here. I want to fabricate a modular unit that can "click" into the bus, but then also "click" into the back of my Overland SUV with a roof tent. This will basically be a common base that's mounted to the floor in the SUV and elevated with drawers underneath, in the bus. The modular unit will contain the fridge, cutting/cooking surface,
This will likely happen in two stages.
will be focused on function and immediate use. This is a basic approach that gives me the ability to go to events that start 16 days from today. There is already a bed platform, exterior awning, dinette, basic cabinet and some basic creature comforts completed.
will be a completely 3D designed, modular fabricated interior space. It will focus on interior cleanliness and use alternative materials that are lightweight and thin, to avoid consuming space. I intend to use this alumicore walls (aluminum skin with a composite core) with quick release fasteners (i.e race car) mounted to 1/2" x 1/2" steel tubing fabricated modules that are build outside, then installed in the bus. The design will avoid square corners, incorporate LED lighting throughout and will attempt to be extremely "clean" and flowing, but very functional.
The majority of space will be given to the bed and bathroom, while having room for a small sitting area, a computer work area and small kitchen. I don't need a massive amount of storage because my intent is not to live in it, but use it for 3-5 days stints, max.
That's the plan...let's see how it goes. Current state of the bus below: