Sportsmobile 4×4 Vans Are All The Rage In Adventure Travel
Because why wouldn’t you want to traverse mountains in a former work van?
Growing up during the pinnacle of the conversion van era, I’ve cultivated a certain appreciation for vans in general. My family owned a 1993 Chevy Astro EXT conversion van that featured a motorized, folding third-row seat, 13-inch TV/VCR combo and a sick aluminum ladder on the back. My parents were always thrilled to find out we used the ladder to claim on top of the van to access the roof of our house. I even took my initial driver’s test when I was 16 years old in that monstrosity. Good times.
My former fascination with conversion vans coupled with my current appreciation for 4x4 vehicles drew me to the world of Sportsmobiles. What exactly is a Sportsmobile and why in the world would a van be called that? Well, Sportsmobile is considered one of the oldest van conversion companies in history and over the years their brand has become synonymous with Ford Econoline vans with camper tops and 4x4 conversions.
Why wouldn’t someone just buy a Jeep or maybe some type of RV? I found the most succinct response to this question on Sportsmobile’s site:
“After having used a variety of Class A Motor Homes and after having owned several off-road vehicles (Jeeps, D-90, Range Rovers, Hummers, FJ Cruiser, etc.), we wanted a self-contained adventure vehicle that we could use to explore this great country. We looked at various concepts but mutually decided on the Sportsmobile 4x4 Ford van."
To truly appreciate these collosal creations, it's a must you take a peek inside. The video below provides a detailed walk-around from the good folks at Overland Bound:
The next video from Expedition Portal shows these big rigs in action:
And the final video from Gear Patrol provides a bit of insight on the people behind the brand and how the vehicles are constructed:
The most interesting tidbit about the Sportsmobile community is even though the company is called Sportsmobile, it seems to be all Ford Econoline 4x4 camper conversions are loosely considered Sportsmobiles regardless if Sportsmobile did the conversion or not. This is head-scratching to say the least as that philosophy is akin to everyone calling all custom jeeps, Starwoods. This guy even prides himself on building a Sportsmobile without the camper top which is technically Sportsmobile's signature addition. Thankfully, unlike the lifted truck scene there doesn’t seem to be any bickering about these little inconsistencies. Even in the comment sections and forums, no one even mentions it so we’ll just keep quiet about it, too. If you want to travel even further down the Sportsmobile wormhole, check out their forum.
Here's the full specs from Sportsmobile's site:
Length: RB 211.9” EB 231.9”
Track Width: (Front/Rear) 70.5” / 70.5”
Height with Penthouse: 94.0”
Wheel Base: 140.3”
Ground Clearance (Van Center): 16.5”
Approach / Departure Angle: 44º / 32º
Towing Capacity: 10,000 lbs.
Turning Circle: 49’ 2” curb to curb
Wheel Travel: (Front) 22” nom. (Sway Bar Disconnected)
Engine: 6.8L V-10
Transmission: 4R100 / Torqshift 5-speed
Transfer Case: Atlas II (3.0 or 3.8:1 gear ratio)
Axle Gear Ratio: 4.10:1 (Towing Package)
Tires/Rims: BFGAT LT285/70R17 (33” nom.)
Suspension: Partial Military Wrap Leaf Shackle System
Front Sway Bar: Standard 1.38” Dia. With Quick Disconnect System
Prices start at $90,000 and go up from there!