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Icelandic Odyssey: Air-Conditioning, 49 Seats, Anywhere.

Chris Haining April 18, 2016 Hooniverse Goes To... 9 Comments

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When you rock up in the campsite there’s always somebody smugly BBQing outside their Prevost, looking down their nose at the massed ranks of Fleetwoods and Winnebagos as the evening sun glints off the gleaming chrome of their retirement land-yacht.

In those situations what you really need is a locomotive horn to break the hickory-smoke infused tranquillity, and then to park this thing in the plot immediately next to Mr VIP Coach RV.

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OK, it’s not an RV, but if it belonged to me it would be very soon. This here is an off-road sightseeing coach, the way they do things in Iceland. With eight colossal boulder-shrugging wheels, each of which is driven, suddenly Iceland’s cratered wilderness becomes paper flat.

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And all without putting paying passengers through any form of discomfort. Inside up to 49 intrepid tourists can sit in air-conditioned, wi-fi connected luxury. OK, the photo above doesn’t scream Lear Jet opulence, but it’s all a matter of context. It must be quite a feeling to sit inside this thing, trundling unstoppably across a lava-field without knowing anything of the hard work being done on your behalf by all those muscular mechanical bits.

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What bits are they, then? Well, the engine is unspecified (though I suspect it to be a large and grunty one) but the underlying chassis is of GINAF origin, they being established Dutch makers of hardcore off-road capable truck chassis. Starting with the bare frame, the Icelandic Vélrás company have overhauled and improved while adding a recent cab and front end from MAN and passenger bodywork taken from a BOVA Futura touring coach. And they’ve done an extremely slick job of it, too.

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As you’ll see if you visit the website of the Mountaineers of Iceland, there is one other vehicle in their fleet which can trump it for sheer wow-factor. Imagine the scene at the campsite. You’ve already put the guy with the shiny Prevost in his place, and are celebrating quietly with a refreshing brew. Then some guy comes in with a 10×10.

Yep, they have one of those as well.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016 except interior shot from Mountaineers of Iceland website)

  • Amoore

    Sorry to disagree, but if you want a bus that will outclass a Prevost I’d rather go with a camper-converted Neoplan Jumbocruiser. It’s no 8×8 but it does have ten(?) wheels and two levels of articulated space. It sure would look better than any of eleMMent’s designs, that’s for sure.

  • Batshitbox

    It screams ‘mobile missile launcher’. I hope all 4 of the front wheels turn. In fact, I hope all the wheels turn, and that it can crab-crawl like a 4WD forklift does.

  • Ross Ballot

    I’d love to see how they did the driveshafts/whatever contraption they have going on under there to make it eight-wheel-drive

  • Sjalabais

    Very slick little monster. It is strange they removed the badging from it, when it is obvious that half the population to see it will be aroused by it – and they’ll want to know about the engine. Designwise, I am a sucker for the less slick, more brutalist 6×6 here:
    http://mountaineers.is/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/mountaineers_bus1.jpg

    I wonder whether it would be impractical to move the Canadian alternative, and that they thus decide to go for Jurobean components.
    http://bangshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/newbus3.jpg
    http://jasperjournal.com/jaspergallery/d/218-2/old_snow_bus.jpg

  • marmer

    I’m reasonably willing to believe it has a MAN diesel, given MAN’s history with off-road trucks. I guess it could be a Cummins like some of the GINAF off-road racers use, but I’d guess that parts availability in Europe would be better for the MAN.

    • I also suspect that to be the case; given the ease that it would bring to re-using the MAN controls and instrumentation that comes with that cab.

      • marmer

        I went to the Mountaineers of Iceland web site, and the 10 x 10 is a GINAF, the 8×8 is a MAN KAT. Almost certainly a MAN diesel, then, with a slight possibility that it’s a Deutz air-cooled 8-cylinder diesel.

        • Well spotted. I was mixing the descriptions of the 8 and 10 wheelers. Damn me for rushing. A nice aircooled Deutz sounds good, and would sound good.