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Old 04-08-2019, 10:21 PM   #1
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What the heck is a sportsmobile?

Iíve been trying to find a simple answer to this simple question. What exactly makes a sportsmobile a sportsmobile? Iíve searched online and on this forum and, as someone new to this game, Iím still not really sure what the heck all of you are referring to when you say ďsportsmobileĒ.
Iím a pretty simple guy.. I just want a 4wd van that I can travel in, and live in, and to off-road in. My first and only van conversion was/is a gorgeous white 2wd GMC Safari cargo (like a Chevy Astro). Iíve been living in it full time for a while now. Too stubborn to pay rent and Ive been enjoying saving all my money living rent free.
So when someone says ďsportsmobileĒ , are they referring to the old company that does van conversions? Or are they referring to a van thatís been converted to 4wd? Or any van thatís 4wd, like the new 2019 sprinter? Can someone call a 2wd van a sportsmobile because they threw a roof rack, ladder, and a spare tire on it?... because Iím pretty sure Iíve seen a few people on YouTube giving a tour of their 2wd sportsmobile.
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:25 PM   #2
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Originally i would say sportsmobile was a brand. Anything they converted, from adding small upgrades to doing a full build out, made it a sportsmobile.

Now I would say itís basically any off-road focused vehicle meant for sleeping and supporting adventurers. Off-road being a variable-definition term.
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Old 04-08-2019, 11:25 PM   #3
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I feel like the big question is how upset the guys at Sportsmobile would be if you put "Sportsmobile" on the side of a van that hadn't been upgraded at their shop...?

I think it gets a pass from a lot of people provided it is a van in the same style that Sportsmobile works on, but I don't think the term was coined before Sportsmobile as a company started using it... so I would lean towards the opinion that calling something a Sportsmobile that didn't specifically come from Sportsmobile, would be improper.

If I am wrong about the history of the "Sportsmobile" term I'd probably lean towards 4x4 and a layout for camping + adventure as my personal $0.02.
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Old 04-09-2019, 12:32 AM   #4
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technically, to be perhaps a bit overly precise, a Sportsmobile is a RV/Camper van conversion done by Sportmobile in CA, TX, or Indiana. Its a brand and I would expect them to be protective of it as most companies would -- e.g. a poorly done home build that has their name on it and get associated might annoy them.

I think their somewhat pioneering the 4x4 camper van market (at least they were the first I saw when I started looking into this sort of rig 6 years ago) makes a lot of people associate their name with 4x4 vans that have camper-like build outs. I personally refer to the broader category as "Sportsmobile Like" or "Adventure Vans". I think they can be 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive (I prefer 4x4) and they can be anything from an old cargo van with an air mattress, to a fully kitted out EB with a high roof and a shower. If you are building/using it to live, love, and pursue adventure then it fits in the community and the general category. SMB is certainly the most recognizable name in the game at this point -- perhaps why so many use that when talking about the idea to others -- but many other (expo vans, colorado camper van, adventure vehicle concepts to name a few) are carving out their own reputations.

The advent of the alternate platforms (Sprinter, ProMaster, Trasit) and the growth of the "van life" community has certainly brought more attention to what historically has been a rather small subset of the RV community.

So I guess to me the short answer to you question is .... Sportsmobile is one of many companies specializing in the conversion and customization of a base Van platforms. It has become the household name, if you will, of the general category within which they exist -- think Kleenex or Scotch Tape. To me though I would rather reference them as one of the many players in the category rather than have them become the identity of the category, which to me is better stated as Adveture/Overland Rigs
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Old 04-09-2019, 06:07 AM   #5
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For decades the main distinction of a Sportsmobile used to be the Penthouse top, whether 2WD of 4WD. Thatís what really set them apart in the market as a brand IMO. Of course, now with high top vans like Sprinters and Transits coming out that brand is changing.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:38 AM   #6
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I drive my home build van around while wearing a "Sportsmobile" hat, does that count?
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Old 04-09-2019, 10:32 AM   #7
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I'll take a stab at it:
It's a brand name for a premium conversion van, typically set up for camping or adventures, often with a pop top, sometimes with 4wd. In contrast with the older 'conversion vans', that were often set up more for travel, crushed velvet interiors, wood accents and aircraft style interior lights.
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Old 04-09-2019, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomsBeast View Post
I'll take a stab at it:
It's a brand name for a premium conversion van, typically set up for camping or adventures, often with a pop top, sometimes with 4wd. In contrast with the older 'conversion vans', that were often set up more for travel, crushed velvet interiors, wood accents and aircraft style interior lights.

I have a van that is both. There are little lights in the wood strips. Victory!
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Old 04-09-2019, 11:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JamesO View Post
Iíve been trying to find a simple answer to this simple question. What exactly makes a sportsmobile a sportsmobile? Iíve searched online and on this forum and, as someone new to this game, Iím still not really sure what the heck all of you are referring to when you say ďsportsmobileĒ.
Iím a pretty simple guy.. I just want a 4wd van that I can travel in, and live in, and to off-road in. My first and only van conversion was/is a gorgeous white 2wd GMC Safari cargo (like a Chevy Astro). Iíve been living in it full time for a while now. Too stubborn to pay rent and Ive been enjoying saving all my money living rent free.
So when someone says ďsportsmobileĒ , are they referring to the old company that does van conversions? Or are they referring to a van thatís been converted to 4wd? Or any van thatís 4wd, like the new 2019 sprinter? Can someone call a 2wd van a sportsmobile because they threw a roof rack, ladder, and a spare tire on it?... because Iím pretty sure Iíve seen a few people on YouTube giving a tour of their 2wd sportsmobile.
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Old 04-09-2019, 12:53 PM   #10
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportsmobile
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