When up . . .
Top down . . .
Raises and Lowers in Seconds . . .
Unlock front & rear latches.
Start up with a little push.
Patented spring counter balance system makes it easy.
Lock the three latches.
The Penthouse Top is available separately. See Sportsmobile price sheets for cost. Installation normally requires only one day.
The Penthouse is available for Ford and
Chevy/GM regular and extended body vans. It is only available for the Sprinter regular body with the low roof.
Streamlined for fuel efficiency and good looks.
The Upstairs Bed Option
There's room for two in the upstairs loft. It's a fun and comfortable place to nap or enjoy a good night's sleep. The main bed section is made of the same soft and firm foam as Sportsmobile's seats/beds. No closed-in feeling over the bed with a ceiling height of 30" and large windows that help provide an open feeling. A ladder is (O).
Like to read in bed? Two ceiling lights provide plenty of light. There's even space for snacks and drinks. For privacy, opaque curtains roll up and down.
When the main bed section is attached to the ceiling, bedding can be left on top. You will still have a height of about 55" under the bed when the top is down.
Miscellaneous Info — Construction
This is our first expandable top from the early '60s. To raise it you climbed a ladder on the van's rear. As you wiggled in you raised the top until it locked in the up position. To lower you reversed the proceure. Yes, it took time and was a little "awkward."
What's the durability of the Penthouse? We really don't know. Since we introduced our third generation model in 1974, we have never replaced a part because of wear. The top itself is made of reinforced fiberglass with built-in wood stringers. Metal parts are all heavy duty construction. Counter-balancing tension and compression springs are over-engineered. This means they will never fatigue and lose their strength.
However, if you have an electric top (O) and you do not unlock the latches before you raise it, you will bend the elevating u-tubes. The 12V motors are powerful. If you do bend them, the u-tubes can be replaced by Sportsmobile.
Sidewall material is tough and weather resistant. Its convertible car-top vinyl-impregnated fabric exterior is easy to clean. The fabric interior is mildew and condensation resistant. Since it doesn't breath it helps hold heat out in summer and inside in the winter.
Insulation. Tempshield radiant heat reflecting bubble foil, with a down R-Value of 14.9, is sandwiched between the fiberglass top shell and ceiling panels.
Leak? We built our leakers decades ago. The top is guaranteed not to leak under any weather conditions up or down. Should a leak ever develop, it would be easy to fix.
Is the van roof cut-out reinforced? Yes. The front roof van rib over the cab and the rear rib are not removed. The sides and rear of the roof cut-out are framed with 14 gauge steel, bolted to the van roof. This heavy steel frame reinforces the roof, supports the optional bed, and is the base for the elevating assembly. Actually, we feel the roof is stronger after the Penthouse has been installed.
Can I order only the Penthouse? Yes. One day is required for installation by appointment.
Why is the "dual-U-tube" elevating assembly important? We feel this patented system is the model of simplicity, a straight forward means of making the top go up and down. Dual compression and tension springs working with the dual-U-tubes makes the raising/lowering of the top quick and easy. An electric top is optional.
Wind blowing? No need to lower the top unless it really gets strong.
Is is OK to stand on the top?
Yes! Up to a dozen or so people.
Solar Panels and Roof Racks are available.
Over the years there's been many articles published about Sportsmobiles.
Below are excerpts about Penthouse Tops. The full stories are on the Ford/Chevy Articles page.
Reprinted from Motorhome Magazine (condensed)
by Jeff Johnson
Topping off the Sportsmobile is the Penthouse fold-down roof. The hard roof section is a single piece, reinforced fiberglass shell supported by the exclusive proprietary spring balanced Dual-U-Tube arm-lift system. Concealed springs provide the force to raise the top into position. The side walls are made from a vinyl-impregnated automobile convertible-roof fabric and are fitted with five large screened windows.
We found the overhead bed in the Sportsmobile to be one of the most comfortable sleeping spaces we've ever enjoyed in an RV. Sounds and smell from the outdoors are appreciated while reclining on a padded foam mattress. A pair of large windows on each side of the top and one in the forward end provide copious flow-through ventilation and illumination during the day. Zippered clear vinyl windows provide blowing rain protection. Roll-down shades add privacy if desired. There is easy access to the lower area for trips to the fridge or Porta-Potti during the night, and no squeezing around a folded-down sofa was necessary.
Folding the top down is almost as easy as setting it up. After closing all the windows and rolling up the curtains, one person simply pulls downward on the ceiling mounted handles. The roof comes straight down, more or less, and usually settles right into place. If the vehicle is tilted slight to the right or left, the roof may shift over as it comes down. In that case, you need only push slightly against the exterior "down" side, as per the manufacturer's instructions to place the fiberglass roof squarely on top of the van. Elastic cords permanently mounted around the fabric walls apply pressure to fold them inward, so no stuffing from outside is necessary. The three latches are refastened, the cover fabric is snapped over the latches and the unit is ready to roll.
Reprinted from Trailer Life Magazine (condensed)
By Steve Tracey
At the campsite, the Sportsmobile offers a refreshing surprise: setup is a breeze. The Penthouse patented spring (both compression and tension) assisted elevating system sets up, as advertised, in less than 10 seconds. Once the three interior locks are released, a gentle nudge activates the patented dual U-tube counter-balanced spring system that snaps the roof to its upright position. The interior of the coach is immediately transformed into a spacious living area with 6 feet 10 inches of headroom.
Side walls of this roof extension are made of automobile convertible-roof, vinyl-impregnated fabric with five large screened windows with clear vinyl zippered flaps. Snugly affixed to the ceiling is a 42x78-inch bed, which drops down to a perimeter ledge that is formed by the van's reinforced steel roof, providing top-bunk occupants with 30 inches of headroom.
Luckily, when a fast morning getaway is called for, the Sportsmobile take-down is equally as easy. The counter-balanced spring system also assists with lowering the roof, and bungee cords automatically blouse-in the side fabric, so the roof seals neatly after clamping. It's necessary to crack a door or window during take-down in order to evacuate interior pressure.