Rolling Homes goes glam and grime with VW Bulli camper van combo
Overlanding and glamping are two of the hottest trends in overnight outdoor recreation right now. The two worlds aren't mutually exclusive (just look at cushy overlanding contraptions like this one), but they are starkly juxtaposed on the face: nestling oneself in a mid-forest luxury retreat surrounded by virtually every technology and convenience you enjoy at home versus forsaking civilization for chunks of time to travel across gritty, desolate slices of wilderness. Perhaps by design, perhaps coincidence, UK camper van builder Rolling Homes brought the worlds of glamping and overlanding screeching together at last week's NEC Motorhome & Caravan Show, trotting out both an opulent six-figure VW T6 camper van with gorgeous materials and a safety-orange T6 4Motion upgraded for all-out off-road adventure. Two different #vanlife worlds under one banner.
The simply named Expedition 4x4 was the first new Rolling Homes build to catch our attention. The van was born a short-wheelbase 148-hp VW T6 4Motion with rear differential lock, on which Rolling Homes has added an off-road suspension with 100-mm (4-in) lift and BFGoodrich all-terrain tires around prototype bead lock-look steel wheels. A bull bar up front, rock sliders along the sides and skid plates below protect from unexpected (or expected) bumps and bashes. A new exhaust, auxiliary lighting neatly embedded in the grille, and a full-size spare hung on back complete the exterior kit. As if that ruggedized package isn't already conspicuous enough on its own, Rolling Homes has colored it all over with a search-and-rescue shade of bright orange, complemented by matching wheel edges and black accents up high and down low.
On the camper side of the sliding door, the Expedition 4x4 employs a classic floor plan with a folding two-seat rear bench/bed, driver-side kitchen block with dual-burner stove, sink and fridge, and pop-up sleeper roof with a solar panel slapped on the outside. The bench is mounted on easy-slide floor rails, allowing drivers to quickly adjust between cargo carrying and camping. Tie-downs on the load floor help secure everything in place, and a dining table stows flush against the inside sliding-door panel.
The Expedition's front seats are carbon-shelled Cobra prototypes for a hint of sportiness and extra body hold while off-roading. The digitized topographic print climbing up the face of the kitchen and wardrobe ups the visuals, and Rolling Homes ties the interior and exterior together with bright-orange trim and stitching on the black seats. An Alpine touchscreen-based stereo system and easy-clean rubberized flooring and side paneling finish off the cabin conversion.
While the Expedition 4x4 looked shiny and pretty under the lights of the Motorhome & Caravan Show, it was clearly just raring to tear off the stand and drench its Sunday best in mud, dust and grit. Another recent Rolling Homes build, the "Edition 10," was much more content strutting its stuff under the hot lights, perhaps ahead of taking off to meander French wine country or tour the Mediterranean Coast.
The Edition 10 was designed to celebrate Rolling Homes' 10th anniversary and highlight owner Mark Cooper's cabinetmaking background. So while the dazzling metallic merlot/charcoal two-tone paint scheme, blackout grille, custom bumpers, quad-tip exhaust and "Edition 10" badging definitely make an impression, the interior is the focal point. Here, Rolling Homes combines walnut wood cabinetry with white leather so soft you could spread it on toast.
The woodwork definitely looks like something out of a professionally refinished home or executive office and neatly hides away functional equipment like the mini-fridge and slide-out countertop extension. To highlight the rich, multi-tone look of the wood, the floor plan puts an emphasis on storage, with under-seat drawers joining the kitchen and side cabinet in their walnut-faced construction. A starry headliner on the underside of the roof bed completes the elegant atmosphere, while body-matched dashboard trim ties the look of the driver's cab with the exterior.
Rolling Homes showed the Expedition 4x4 at a few smaller events before giving it a big, proper debut at the Motorhome & Caravan show. A conversation on the company's Facebook page estimates starting price for a similar VW build at £48,000 (approx. US$61,575). The 10th Edition made its debut earlier this year before appearing alongside the Expedition 4x4 in the NEC Birmingham expo hall last week. According to a recent article in Rolling Homes' local paper the Shropshire Star, the luxurious build prices in around £100,000 ($128,275). Both vans will be modeling once again this weekend when Rolling Homes holds an open house event at its Shrewsbury headquarters.