Originally Posted by johnamullins
Criteria, in order of priority:
- Usable as daily driver and able to be parked in a street space or in my standard height/20' length garage
- Safe for two elementary school kids; need a video system to keep them from squirming
- Able to tow my track car (2800lbs car+trailer) to day, or weekend events
- Table/desk area to set up and power a laptop for analyzing data/video between run sessions
- Nice to have accessory power for running a small air compressor (or have it built-in)
- Able to sleep in it the night before a track event; I'm 5'-11", my wife is 5'-2"
- Usable for family ski trips where 4x4 & snow tires or 2X4 & chains might be needed (Mammoth from LA)
- Able to seat 4 adults and 4 kids and mount a ski box on top or carry skis and snow boards for same
- Usable for very mild, novice camping trips for two adults and two kids (hook ups, showers, take-out)
- Subject of my tech-geek tinkering!
- Function over form (don't care about luxury)
- More solar is better!
- Regular body Chevy or Ford Van (which?)
- Pop-up top with bed for the kids
- Four swivel captain's chairs and removable table
- Bed/sofa in the back with storage behind and below
- Porta-potty and external shower capability
- No propane
- Small fridge and small microwave
- A/C; generator; as many solar panels as possible
What do you recommend? Which SM floor plan is best for me? Should I customize?
An interesting set of design criteria, but achieveable. Standard floor plans RB 16 or RB 21 with the penthouse would be good starting plans.
Fords have heavier frames and would be better for towing. V-10 for towing. RB's are better for daily drivers. If you get 4wd, it will not fit in the garage unless you have a 10' tall door. My 2004 E-350 with penthouse is about 7'3" tall so will clear an 8' tall door. 2wd, snow tires and chains will get you up the hill to Mammoth reliable. You will need a ladder to get to the roof boxes for skiis and boards.
SMB can do many things with video but two hand-helds would be the simplest.
My suggested floorplan is a slight mod on RB-21. Driver/Passenger seats both swivel, with two captains chairs behind them for primary seating for 4. Centerfacing dinnette at rear for other 4 secondary seats (will have seatbelts) and table for eating, computer, etc. Also sleeping for kids; at 5'11" you will not be happy sleeping crosswise in van. Adults can sleep upstairs in penthouse. The PH bed platform can be hooked to ceiling for daytime standing.
Batteries under dinette and/or frame mounted. ExtremeAire compressor under body. Leave tire in stock under-body mount to minimize length. Solar panels will need to be coordinated with roof boxes, if any. Carry generator on car trailer on track days, on hitch mounted platform w/o trailer if you need it for A/C otherwise solar will be enough.
Consider hitch mount racks for skis and boards to avoid climbing on roof in winter. Also gets weight off of penthouse (always good) and solar panels do not have competition for space and sun. Solar mounting will affect garageability.
Cabinets - on driver's side, tall pantry in front of dinette, then modified "B" closet for porta-pot on floor with AC and fridge or microwave above. Low "C" cabinet on passenger side in front of dinette with fridge or microwave, move captain's chair back to clear side door. This will work for camping although a bit short on storage space; Hitch mounted platform could again help. Use a 2-burner propane stove that runs on 1 pound cylinders for cooking.
High or low, SMBs are all about tech-geek tinkering and customization, both before and after the sale!