Automotive

Skydancer 7.5 shows the world what a motorhome convertible looks like

Skydancer 7.5 shows the world ...
The Skydancer 7.5 experiments with the idea of a convertible motorhome
The Skydancer 7.5 experiments with the idea of a convertible motorhome
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The Skydancer 7.5 prototype at the 2014 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
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The Skydancer 7.5 prototype at the 2014 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
The sliding glass enclosure creates a motorhome convertible
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The sliding glass enclosure creates a motorhome convertible
Skydancer's 2013 reverse alcove prototype
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Skydancer's 2013 reverse alcove prototype
The 2014 reverse alcove prototype
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The 2014 reverse alcove prototype
The Skydancer 7.5 experiments with the idea of a convertible motorhome
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The Skydancer 7.5 experiments with the idea of a convertible motorhome
Skydancer's 2013 reverse alcove prototype has sleeping space below its staircase
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Skydancer's 2013 reverse alcove prototype has sleeping space below its staircase
Sketch of Skydancer's reverse alcove design (left) next to a more traditional RV driving cab
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Sketch of Skydancer's reverse alcove design (left) next to a more traditional RV driving cab

From the ubiquitous soft top to multi-panel glass retractables, car convertibles have always been a staple of our coverage. Lately, boat convertibles have picked up steam, in the form of vessels like the Revolver 44GT and 88 Florida. As accustomed to the wide range of convertibles as we've become, nothing quite prepared us for the convertible motorhome, a concept that appeared at the recent Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. The one-of-a-kind, "penthouse-on-wheels" lets wind flow through the driver's hair with the retraction of its sliding roof.

While a 27-ft (8.2-m), 8.3-ton (7.5 tonne) RV doesn't seem like a vehicle screaming for a "cabriolet" variant, the advantages of a convertible panoramic glass roof are clear almost immediately after you see the Skydancer 7.5 concept. RVs are designed for extended travel through scenic landscapes and sitting in a high, glass-surround cabin provides a much better view than a traditional two-person driver cab/camper cabin. And what long-distance ride isn't better in a convertible?

Skydancer's 7.5 prototype puts the family of four in a raised platform cab that's reminiscent of the upper deck of a double-decker bus. The panoramic glasshouse creates the feel of a tourist bus designed specifically for enhancing sight lines. The glass enclosure also slides backward, opening up the entire cabin to the sky above. The design includes a frame below the glass for structural integrity when in convertible mode.

The Mercedes Atego-based 7.5 prototype builds upon Skydancer's reverse alcove concept, a camper construction that uses structural reinforcements to push the driver/passenger cell forward over the top of the engine. That design opens up room for a bed below the driver's cab, standing in contrast to the common design of a bed-equipped roof alcove at the top of the cab.

At the 2013 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, Skydancer presented a skeletal reverse alcove prototype based on the Fiat Ducato, a front-engined van popular in camper van conversions. The Ducato driver is typically set back behind the short nose, but in Skydancer's design, he or she is pushed up and forward, along with three passengers. Skydancer showed the latest design prototype this year (below), alongside the 7.5.

The 2014 reverse alcove prototype
The 2014 reverse alcove prototype

Compare the Skydancer's reverse alcove design to the average RV and the advantages become clear. Instead of a stereotypical set-up of mother and father sitting up front and two kids in back, the design keeps the entire family together and, in the case of the 7.5 convertible, gives everyone crystal-clear views of the region they're visiting. The high seating position is also envisioned as a safety measure, keeping the occupants up above the average vehicle in the event of a collision and pulling passengers out of the camper cabin, where everyday objects can turn into projectiles. The 7.5's driver cab can also double as a sort of outdoor deck for eating and relaxing.

The 7.5 RV prototype sleeps its four passengers on two beds. The first two-person bed is set into the space below the raised driver cab and the second is in the rear. Outside of additional seating inside the camper cabin, Skydancer doesn't mention any other amenities. There's plenty of room for a kitchen, bathroom and storage, but the vehicle's status as an experimental prototype appears to have negated such inclusions.

Skydancer seems zeroed in on pursuing its patented reverse alcove design, as opposed to a production 7.5 motorhome, but it is selling the one-off 7.5 prototype. The RV, which is based on a used 2003 Mercedes Atego with nearly 124,000 miles (200,000 km) on the clock, is advertised for €80,000 (US$104,000) on the company's website. That sounds a bit rich for something advertised as a "low budget prototype" and built on a well-used chassis, but the design does provide some very interesting food for thought as to the possibility of an open-top RV.

Source: Skydancer via Examiner

15 comments
Mel Tisdale
These oversized vehicles are all well and good, until one wants to pop into the next town or city for some reason, such as admiring its architecture. (Highways get a bit 'samey' after a while.) Where on earth do you park the thing while you do so? I suppose a lorry stop might let you in, but that is going to be way away from the centre. You are better off getting a VW Transporter or Caravelle conversion or the like. At least you know it will fit into 99.9% of all car parks in the towns and pic-nic stops in the countryside anywhere in Europe for sure and elsewhere I imagine.
BigGoofyGuy
I think that is way cool. It would be great for viewing the night sky at a camp site or watching fireworks in comfort. IMO, it has a 'retro-look' to it that I think is neat.
Jon Smith
The designers obviously didn't have any concern for aesthetics, that thing is just hideous. Hint to the designers hideous things don't often sell well, reference the Pontiac Aztec.
Jay Finke
The addition of lightening holes in beams, is a nice touch, so when this top heavy monstrosity rolls over, it's sure to have no survivors.
Stephen N Russell
Lisc to RV makers alone for production Make body more aero. Or enclose driver inside main area & have upper deck the convertable area for dining, etc. add awning. Love this Must for rentals.
bergamot69
Would it not be better to sit the driver and the front passenger(s) down lower, and have a raised seating position plus a panoramic windscreen for the rear seated passengers? No good having all seats at the same level, as the front occupants will block the view. It would be like sitting a row or two back on a double-decker bus with the front seats occupied- you would only get a partial view of what is in front of the vehicle, and no nearfield vision of what is at street level in front. The only good view is would be from one of the side windows. A potentially interesting concept that clearly has not been thought through.
Bob Flint
While the view maybe great, and the family is together, not much security up top without any seat belts? Paying tolls could be a problem also, for that kind of money it needs to be way more finished, & attractive.
Chen Rosen
Nice color. This looks like a brand new 1976 model year RV.
Riaanh
They still have a lot of work ahead of them, but I like the general concept of having the passengers sitting together and higher for a better view. The Skydancer 7.5 is a bit bulky to my taste, but a more compact version should have no problem at toll-gates since the driver would not be any higher than your average large truck.
phissith
agreed, butt ugly!!