Dutchman Paul Aalmans knows his off-road campers, this is the third one he’s built, and by far the largest. Starting with a tired but capable Mercedes-Benz Actros 3343 6×6 cab over tractor, the first three months of the (quite fast) nine month build were spent replacing lots and lots of technical parts. Paul added remote tire inflation (CTIS), super-singles, and just about anything else you might need or want when crossing the Sahara or the Gobi.
Because time was of the essence during the build, and because Paul was mostly working alone, he decided to mount an existing caravan (a camper trailer for those of us in the States) to the chassis, rather than build the camper body from scratch. While I’ve seen this done, I’ve never seen it look this good. In fact, I would wager that you wouldn’t have known this fact if it wasn’t revealed here.
Click through to read the whole post, with more information and over fifty huge photos spread across three galleries (interior, exterior, and build-log photos).
The trick Paul employed to integrate the trailer, and it worked wonderfully, was to add a cowl to the trailer, blending its shape into the cab, and then re-side the entire thing, hiding the transition from body to cowl. The caravan the Paul chose was a high-end model from Sweden, known as “Cabby”, which was reinforced extensively prior to installation. The space created by the new cowl between the camper and the cab wasn’t wasted either. Two spare tires live there, accessed from the roof and lifted with a crane and electric winch. Also a 360 liter (95 gallon) diesel tank found a place, putting total fuel capacity to a stunning 860 liters (over 227 gallons). The trailer was mounted to the chassis with a 3 point system, similar to unimog mounting systems, leaving the chassis with maximum flexibility without putting strain on the trailer.
Paul completed the truck in March of 2009 and traveled extensively in it over the next two years with some tractor parts he purchased from Fastline. He reports that fuel consumption was in the range of 32l/100km (7.35 mpg), which isn’t too bad for a motorhome like this, especially considering that the Mercedes-Benz 6 cylinder puts out 490 horsepower after some chip tuning. Also, unlike many of the Unimog-based off-road campers I see, I’d imagine that this one is actually quite comfortable on the highway, especially having started life as an all-wheel-drive tractor (feel free to weigh in on that in the comments).
Paul finally chose to sell the Actros 6×6 due to the generally high maintenance and operating costs, it lives in Germany now. So while we’re all wondering what he’ll build next, check back in a few days for a a feature on the Unimog camper he built in 1997!