Automotive

Skydancer makes holiday travel breezier with motorhome cabriolet

Skydancer makes holiday travel...
Skydancer debuts its Apéro camper-cabriolet at CMT 2019
Skydancer debuts its Apéro camper-cabriolet at CMT 2019
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Skydancer debuts its Apéro camper-cabriolet at CMT 2019
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Skydancer debuts its Apéro camper-cabriolet at CMT 2019
The lifted driver area of the Apéro sits just below the power-retractable roof
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The lifted driver area of the Apéro sits just below the power-retractable roof
Skydancer's dual-level frame makes for an awkward front-end design but a unique motorhome experience
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Skydancer's dual-level frame makes for an awkward front-end design but a unique motorhome experience
A look at the heart of Skydancer's design
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A look at the heart of Skydancer's design
Looking straight up at the rafters through a unique retractable motorhome roof
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Looking straight up at the rafters through a unique retractable motorhome roof
The convertible driving cab is also the dining area and lounge
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The convertible driving cab is also the dining area and lounge
At the wheel of the Skydancer Apéro
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At the wheel of the Skydancer Apéro
The Apéro is based on the popular Fiat Ducato, but there isn't much sign of the Ducato inside or out
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The Apéro is based on the popular Fiat Ducato, but there isn't much sign of the Ducato inside or out
Skydancer's bathroom includes a fold-away sink over the toilet
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Skydancer's bathroom includes a fold-away sink over the toilet
Skydancer shower
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Skydancer shower
A small staircase separates the driver area from the main living quarters
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A small staircase separates the driver area from the main living quarters
The Apéro has a simple kitchen block similar to what you might find in a camper van, with an extra tabletop available to increase work space
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The Apéro has a simple kitchen block similar to what you might find in a camper van, with an extra tabletop available to increase work space
The rear bed of the Skydancer Apéro combines with the convertible driver cab to sleep a total of four people
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The rear bed of the Skydancer Apéro combines with the convertible driver cab to sleep a total of four people
The 145-L fridge
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The 145-L fridge
Skydancer's booth received plenty of attention at CMT
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Skydancer's booth received plenty of attention at CMT
The roof panel retracts neatly back behind the driver cab area
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The roof panel retracts neatly back behind the driver cab area
Skydancer showed this picture of the driver cab night configuration
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Skydancer showed this picture of the driver cab night configuration
The Apéro includes a rear garage for gear storage
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The Apéro includes a rear garage for gear storage
Looking up through the open roof of the Skydancer Apéro
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Looking up through the open roof of the Skydancer Apéro
The original 2014 Skydancer 7.5 prototype was adapted to a Mercedes Atego
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The original 2014 Skydancer 7.5 prototype was adapted to a Mercedes Atego
Skydancer's upper decker frame creates a two-level living/driving space
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Skydancer's upper decker frame creates a two-level living/driving space
Fitting the Apéro body to the frame
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Fitting the Apéro body to the frame
Fitting the Apéro body to the frame
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Fitting the Apéro body to the frame
Building the first Skydancer Apéro ahead of its CMT 2019 debut
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Building the first Skydancer Apéro ahead of its CMT 2019 debut

Back in 2014, we took a look at the Skydancer 7.5, a used Mercedes Atego converted into a motorhome with retractable driver-cab roof. It was an impressive project, but outside of spotting it here and there around the motorhome show circuit, we haven't heard much about it since, assuming it a prototype without much of a future. That changed at last week's CMT show, where Skydancer held the world premiere of its production camper-cabriolet. The all-new Apéro looks nothing like the Fiat Ducato that serves as its base, rolling highways as a comfy, bright-white motorhome with retractable roof and space for four people.

If you were expecting a motorhome cabriolet to have the sleek, curvy style of the typical two-seat convertible, you'll probably be rather disappointed with the Apéro. The original 7.5 prototype shared much of its styling with the base Atego, but the production version looks nothing like the Ducato deep down below. Ordinarily, we'd declare that a good thing, as the Ducato isn't exactly a looker, but Skydancer's bodywork is rather disjointed, particularly up front, where it looks like they stacked two completely separate front-ends atop one another.

Skydancer's dual-level frame makes for an awkward front-end design but a unique motorhome experience
Skydancer's dual-level frame makes for an awkward front-end design but a unique motorhome experience

But making the Apéro motorhome cabriolet was not so straightforward as turning sports coupe into roadster, and the awkward double-stacked front-end follows the dual-level frame below. This frame splits the interior into a four-seat upper deck below the retractable roof and a lower living area behind the front wheels.

Building the first Skydancer Apéro ahead of its CMT 2019 debut
Building the first Skydancer Apéro ahead of its CMT 2019 debut

The interior is very much what the Apéro is all about, and here the design shines. The highlight, of course, is the electrically operated retractable roof that can open during driving as well as at standstill, creating a breezy open-air sitting area to be enjoyed both on the highway and at camp. With its four seats and folding dining tables, the area is not only an airy driving cockpit, but an open-air dining deck, campground lounge and night-sky observatory. The driver and front passenger seats swivel around when the engine is off but automatically lock into forward-facing position when the ignition fires up.

A look at the heart of Skydancer's design
A look at the heart of Skydancer's design

From this upper driver deck, occupants walk down a short set of steps to the lower living area, also accessed via a side door. Skydancer admits that its 7.5 prototype consisted mostly of repurposed furniture bolted to the Atego interior, but with the Apéro, it's designed a stylishly modern and comfortable motorhome cabin.

The main 79 x 55-in (200 x 140-cm) bed is raised up at the rear and surrounded by windows on three sides. The centrally located bathroom includes a toilet, fold-down sink and shower, while the kitchen block between the doorway and bed houses the gas stove and sink. A tall 145-L fridge/freezer hangs opposite the main kitchen block. The driver-cab seating group converts to a second bed to bump total sleeping capacity up to four.

The rear bed of the Skydancer Apéro combines with the convertible driver cab to sleep a total of four people
The rear bed of the Skydancer Apéro combines with the convertible driver cab to sleep a total of four people

The Apéro comes standard with a gas Truma Combi heater/hot water boiler, 90-L fresh and waste water tanks, leather driver-area seating and trim, and a rear garage large enough to hold bicycles or scooters.

Built on a 3.5-tonne Ducato chassis, the Apéro weighs in at 6,790 lb (3,080 kg) when filled with water and gas, leaving 926 lb (420 kg) of payload. It measures 23 x 7.2 x 9.8 feet (7 x 2.2 x 3 m, L x W x H). The €128,520 (approx. US$146,000) base price includes Fiat's 148-hp 2.3-liter Multijet turbo-diesel engine, and Skydancer also hints at the possibility of a future electric version.

Source: Skydancer

2 comments
minivini
Wow - I love this thing! Too bad the US will likely never see one, and if we do, the price will probably double.
TomLeeM
I think that is really neat. It would be cool to see the sky not only while driving but also at the campsite and one wants to see the stars.