Swiss Army Sprinter camper van packs five people, solar power and plenty of gear
Benchmark Vehicles has caught our eye in the past with bold, bright-orange branding and vicious-looking off-road adventure vans. So we decided to dig a little deeper into its portfolio and see what the Portland, Oregon shop has been up to of late. One van that pops out immediately is the black-and-white (with strategic bright orange) "Swiss Army Sprinter," an aggressive adventure rig that's nearly as versatile as its namesake thanks to floor rails, five-person seating, a pop-up roof and large cargo-cradling slides in back.
While major American Class B motorhome manufacturers like Winnebago are already working with the third-generation Sprinter, custom conversion shops are still knee-deep in the gen-2 business. Thus is the case with the Swiss Army Sprinter, a 2018 Sprinter 4x4 with some serious upgrading to the powertrain and running gear, including an Agile Off Road RIP suspension upgrade with tuned Fox Racing shocks, a stage one diesel tune, and Roambuilt beadlock wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich T/A KO2 265/75/17 all-terrain tires.
Moving upward, Benchmark doesn't hold back with performance and protective accoutrements around the body. A snorkel, fender flares, bull bar, roof rack ringing the Sportsmobile pop-top, ladder and off-road light bar help the van find and force its way around road and trail, looking the part the entire time.
Inside, Benchmark blends the inviting warmth of a camper van with the all-out utility of a cargo-ready adventure van. The bamboo floor and raised bed provide some homey comfort, while the tie-downs and slide-outs make for more practical loading. The van is insulated for full comfort and includes swivel driver cab seats and a second bed in the pop-up roof, but it lacks more complete camper standards like a full kitchen, bathroom or dining area.
The large slide-outs below the bed include an ARB fridge/freezer, but the owner will have to pack in the rest of the kitchen equipment if he or she intends to cook meals. Benchmark also swaps out the underbody spare tire for a 95-liter water tank with high-pressure pump, moving a full-size spare onto a carrier on the driver-side rear door. A set of bamboo boxes inside the load area swallow up the wheel wells, holding electrical and plumbing equipment, with some space left over for general storage. Outside, a jerry can holder on the flank carries an extra 20 liters of fuel or water.
The Swiss Army Sprinter keeps fridge, smartphones and action cams fired up with an electrical system that includes dual AGM batteries, 300 watts of flexible ZAMP solar panels on the pop-top, a Victron solar controller, a ZAMP 1,000-watt sine inverter, and plenty of outlets.
Beyond that, what Benchmark really creates with this build is a blank notebook, its pages waiting to be filled with tales of exploration, trial and triumph. It'll shuttle up to five people and their gear deep into the wild, provide shelter at night and deliver some entertainment during après with the upgraded Alpine audio system with 10-in subwoofer. From there, it's up to the crew inside.
The Swiss Army Sprinter went up for sale a few months ago for a price of US$160,000, but we're thinking the type of customer throwing that kind of cash around will want to have a hand in customizing his or her own van from the ground up, which happens to be Benchmark's speciality. The company works closely with each client, starting from a bullet-point list of wants and needs, moving through concept development, and finishing off with van construction. The customer purchases the van separately, but Benchmark can assist in sourcing the right vehicle.
Source: Benchmark Vehicles