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

DSC_2602 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. DSC_2601 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. 8x8-inside 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. DSC_2600 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. DSC_2599 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)

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