Articles


Reprinted from Motorhome Magazine (condensed)
by Jeff Johnson

With This 4WD Class B,
The Trip Is Definitely An Adventure

Although the company will build its product to order on a GM, Ford or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, 4WD is not available on the GM or Spinter chassis.

Interestingly, Sportsmobile’s proprietary 4WD system used in the Ford motorhomes is considered so well-built that a number of law enforcement and government agencies needing a van-based 4WD unit are regular customers.

Right up front we need to be clear that this RV is not for those on tight budgets and it’s tough to pin down a price on a typical Sportsmobile. That’s because every one is custom-built. The one we tested here is stickered at around $100,000 because it has just about every option in the book, although we’re sure a determined shopper could find something else to add to the list.

At that price, why choose a 4WD Class B? Because it’s easy to drive, can be parked almost anywhere and can tow a boat or other toys. And this is a motorhome that can take you anywhere.

Stocked Up
The standard Regular Body (RB) 50 4WD motorhome we tested included the signature Sportsmobile Penthouse fold-down-roof hardtop with fabric side walls.

In travel mode the top offers a low profile and is aerodynamic for reduced wind resistance. In camp, the roof lifts easily with the assistance of the optional electric top feature to provide 6 feet 8 inches of interior headroom.

Other optional features, such as the utilitarian Trojan front end and rear bumpers, Warn M12000 winch, Hella fog lamps, and Bushwacker flares certainly helped to increase the RV’s adventure image. The winch and lamps would be worth every penny when needed.

After loading the motorhome with our gear, and easy task because of the many storage cubbyholes built in, we headed up the highway for the brief high-speed part of our jaunt into the Sierra Nevada east of Fresno, Calif.

The optional two-tone Ultraleather captain’s chairs made the ride as comfortable as desired for a 4WD heavy hauler. A full complement of Ford’s comfort and convenience options, plus a darn good stereo, helped the miles roll by easily.

A foldaway cabinet/work shelf/storage unit on the side door supports a portable stove, acts as an outdoor galley and can be used as a food-prep area.

Home Turf
Off the pavement is where the Sportsmobile’s real “adventure” becomes apparent. The floor-mounted 4WD shifter is readily accessible and easy to use. The van offers surprising rough-road agility limited only by the driver’s enthusiasm for travel in really tough spots.

Our campsite at Whiskers Campground, above Bass Lake, was easy to access and provided peace and quiet in beautiful Sierra Nevada surroundings.

There’s no getting around the fact that making comfortable use of a smaller motorhome like this one takes some practice and patience. By judicious use of duffle bags and packing no more than needed, and shuffling things back and forth as needed during meals or sleep time, we found the Sportsmobile comfortable and cozy.

This motorhome featured a 2.7-cubic-foot, all-electric refrigerator and a microwave oven as the built-in galley appliances. A small LP-gas tank plumbed to quick-disconnect fittings made it possible to run a portable LP-gas stove, and the company also supplied a small portable butane-fired stove.

A combined solar panel, inverter and a GM 4D battery setup powered the electric appliances in this vehicle when off the grid.

This motor home is well set up for those RVers who like to cook outside. The Class B includes a foldaway cabinet/work shelf/storage unit on the side door that supports a portable stove and some kitchen utensils or supplies. We used this setup every day, and the awning placement means it’s also a rain-weather facility. There’s no bathroom in this model, however a Porta Potti stored in its own special garage is included.

Pop-Top
We especially value a good night’s sleep when camping, and this motorhome delivered. We slept on the penthouse-level bed that measures about 44 inches by 72 inches. The bed is 53 inches up from the floor so some climbing using the kitchen counter is needed. Once there, we zipped open the large surrounding vinyl windows to expose the bug screens and enjoyed marvelous flow-through ventilation. Privacy flaps are standard equipment inside.

The pop-top houses a bunk, but the lower level can be converted to either a lounge (pictured) or a comfortable bunk for sleeping.

We’re both full-size adults, and we found the nicely padded platform a comfortable place for a sound night’s sleep. Users can choose to sleep on the lower fold-down sofa bed and rear padded platform combination as well.

A small motorhome like this Class B certainly isn’t for everyone. The high cost/compact size conundrum doesn’t fit many people. But if a 4WD motorhome that screams “adventure” and is capable of taking you almost anywhere and keeping you comfortable in camp sounds like your idea of fun, the Sportsmobile may be for you.

Sportsmobile’s Cruiser RB-30
  Van Motorhome Offers Comfortable Livability
  in a Compact, Practical Package

Reprinted from Motorhome Magazine
by Jeff Johnson

Class B RVs were the “original”
downsized motorhomes. Builders fit many motorhome
self-containment components into compact packages. Collectively,
Class B units represent a relatively small portion of the RV
market, yet they offer functional characteristics unavailable
from any other type of rig.

We discovered during our road
test
the Sportsmobile RB-30 is a highly functional, comfortable
vehicle, which offers a lot of real-world livability in a small
space. At the same time, it’s a snap to operate, and
even the most timid driver should have nothing to fear about
spending time behind the wheel of a Sportsmobile.
Sportsmobile Inc. has been building camping conversion
vans since 1961. During the company’s early years, Sportsmobile
was building the official VW camping vans. It was during the “VW
era” that Sportsmobile technicians learned to build vehicles
following the German engineering requirements for total space
efficiency and quality construction techniques. The lessons
learned back in those days still carry through to today’s
contemporary products.

Sportsmobile has
engineered
into this vehicle many small details that make the best use of the
available space. Shelves at the back of the Porta-Potti
compartment are sized to hold toilet chemicals and paper. Both
the removable dining table and a pair of lawn chairs are stored
aft of the hanging clothes closet in the space between the
closet door and the rear door. Storage compartments are built
into the hollow interiors of the side doors, and the small
cabinet on the forward end of the galley cabinet can be removed
for use outside as a small free-standing table. With few
exceptions it’s obvious that whoever designed this unit has
spent some time in such vehicles under real life camping
conditions.


One of the strong selling points
for a self-contained van motorhome is its versatility as daily
transportation for taking care of household chores. Mom and the
kids can use the RV for family driving almost as easily as they
could the family station wagon.


The galley is part of a
long curbside
cabinet stretching from the rear wall to the middle of
the side doors. All told, the countertop measures 20.5 x
93-inches, with 28 and 35-inch sections of clear counter space
fore and aft of the stove and sink. Storage space below the
galley is ample and well-planned, and opposite streetside,
there’s a nifty slide out pantry adjacent to the Emerson
microwave and Norcold 3-cubic-foot refrigerator. With the pantry
extended, the cook still has access to the complete kitchen
facilities, which is a nice touch when the pantry’s storage
space is used for frequently needed items.

A pair of storage drawers
and the Porta-Potti are housed in a compartment at the front end of the
kitchen cabinet. The toilet is placed in the 22-inch wide aisle
for use with plenty of stand-up room in the aisle when needed.


We discovered during our road
test the Sportsmobile RB-30 is a highly functional, comfortable
vehicle, which offers a lot of real-world livability in a small
space. At the same time, it’s a snap to operate, and
even the most timid driver should have nothing to fear about
spending time behind the wheel of a Sportsmobile.


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.

One of the strong selling points
for a self-contained van motorhome is its versatility as daily
transportation for taking care of household chores. Mom and the
kids can use the RV for family driving almost as easily as they
could the family station wagon. In that respect, a Class B motorhome
is an attractive vehicle for people who can’t afford
to have a large motorhome sitting idle in addition to owning the
regular complement of family cars. Sportsmobile RB-30 has a lot
to offer in terms of functional versatility. We best enjoyed
its drivability, efficient living space and quality
construction.


Sportsmobile EB-30
  In rush-hour traffic or relaxed RVing,
  this camping van is a performance package.

Reprinted from Trailer Life Magazine
By Steve Tracey

CAMPING CONVERSIONS OFFER FLEXIBILITY uncommon in
the self-contained , motorized RV arena. These smallish rigs are
agile enough to scoot around town as primary transportation, but
are still a home in a campground setting, providing many of the
creature comforts that please RV enthusiasts.

Sportsmobile is one of the pioneers
in the camping-van business,
with roots that go back to the early ’60s when converting the
classic Volkswagen bus was its forte. For over four decades,
the company has specialized in van conversions produced and
distributed from plants in Texas, California and Indiana.

While it would seem that these vans would appeal
especially to the younger family-type crowd, a surprising number
of buyers are retired, according to Charles Borskey, the
president of Sportsmobile. Many new customers have stepped down
from larger motorhomes and find van motorhomes easier to handle
for sightseeing, shopping and storing.

A good example of Sportsmobile’s multipurpose
camping vehicle is the EB-30. The timing was perfect for us to
find out if such a van could double as a daily driver. We
scheduled three business days in Louisville, Kentucky, while
attending the national RV trade show, followed by a four-day
vacation exploring the thoroughbred pastures surrounding
Lexington. During the show, a local KOA campground was home
base, and the van was used for commuting.

Sportsmobile’s interior reflects a bright,
clean contemporary look, largely influenced by the light-gray
cabinetry and blue/green patterned upholstery and curtains. The
floor plan in the EB-30 model includes a streetside sofa bed,
driverside. A low cabinet, a closet, a refrigerator and a toilet are
located curbside, front-to-back. This layout is one of many
offered by the manufacturer and customization is encouraged.
Sportsmobile markets directly to retail customers and provides
templates for Ford, Chevy, GM and Sprinter chassis — scale-sized top-view
profiles of appliances, galleys, cabinets and sleeping/dining
furniture can then be cut out and arranged to suit the buyer’s
personal taste.

The company’s confidence in both the quality
and performance of its products is further evidenced by the
50-month /50,000-mile warranty.

Livability
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 42×78-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.

The EB-30 is made specifically for a couple of
serious campers. Although it can sleep four, it is primarily
designed for two people. The forward living area features a streetside sofa that easily converts to a 48×74-inch bed.
Because of cold weather, we opted to sleep on this bed instead
of the overhead bunk. In summertime, the airiness of the higher
berth would be a better alternative.

We found the rear kitchen a cook’s delight,
featuring lots of storage and plenty of open counter top. Since
I confess to being a serious chef of some gastronomic ability,
this seven-day test provided a good analysis of Sportsmobile’s
design. There was no problem storing cooking equipment and
groceries for the week.

Since we camped in winter, heat was a high
priority. Unfortunately the propane furnace decided
to quit the first night out. Sportsmobile provided an optional
shore-powered ceramic heater that saved the night. This portable
unit was up to the task, even though the temperatures dipped
below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Performance
Unlike the somewhat ponderous feel sometimes experienced when
driving a motorhome, our overall impression behind the wheel of
the Sportsmobile reminded us of passenger vans.

Sportsmobile’s low-profile roofline and
resulting lower-than-usual center of gravity kept the cornering,
lane-changing body roll and cross-wind reactions to a minimum.
Whether fighting rush-hour madness on U.S. 265 or winding
through the stone-fenced lanes of pastoral Lexington, the
small-block V-8 and the van’s suspension kept us abreast with
most passenger-car traffic.

Hills were no problem for the Sportsmobile; we
climbed from the Ohio River basin to the foothills of the
Smokies on a continuous 4-mile, 4-percent grade, maintaining a
steady 60 mph without dropping to a lower gear.

For the right couple, a Sportsmobile camping
van can be an affordable alternative to owning and maintaining
both a family car and an RV. The functional versatility and easy
drivability combined with quality fixtures and workmanship, make
almost any destination reachable without sacrificing comfort.


Practical and Powerful
The Sportsmobile RB-50 Has It All

Reprinted from Road Test Magazine
By Brent Peterson

The Ultimate Test
As a true camping vehicle, I give the
Sportsmobile high marks. I was simply wowed at how functional,
easy to use and enjoyable the living quarters were and driving
was never a chore. However, I was going to make sure it also
earned its stripes as an everyday vehicle. as such, I devoted
much of the week-long evaluation to putting the van through its
paces in one of the toughest tests I could think of: February in
Chicago.

Riding high, thanks to my Ford
350 chassis, afforded me a lofty view to survey the scene, and
it wasn’t pretty ahead. The one-two punch of an overturned car
and a construction crew was making a royal mess of things. An
ill advised race to the off-ramp was the only answer. But could
my lengthy van deliver under pressure? Fortunately, the
Sportsmobile has no major blind spots on the passenger side. The
lively V-10 engine transforms daring thoughts into thoughtful
actions, and the deed was done. Jockeying among the truckers,
irate commuters and uppity sports cars was wonderfully easy,
despite piloting nearly 20 feet of vehicle.


All this begged the question: Why
own a SUV when you can own a camper van that’s fun to drive,
great in the outdoors and complete with sink, galley and
sleeping quarters for four? Why indeed? Why indeed?


During the next few days, my
trusty Sportsmobile and I faced difficulties of a more suburban
nature. Navigating the smallish parking lot of the local dry
cleaners; visiting the in-laws over their unplowed roads; and
worst of all, the supermarket, overrun with soccer moms at 4:30
p.m. I was shocked at how well such a big vehicle moved. Turning
was excellent and backing up was a breeze thanks to good rear
visibility, enlarged side mirrors and, again, no ominous blind
spots. the Sportsmobile continued to overachieve. I parked in
conventional spaces, never feared for low clearances and even
wound the rig through the snug confines of the drive-up ATM
machine.

The final hurdle was the nephew test. For the
cost of a few hours at the arcade, I carted around my brother’s
three kids to gauge whether this was a true family vehicle.
According to Sportsmobile, 98% of their vans are used as a
second vehicle and I can see why. The Sportsmobile is a smooth
customer around town.

Sweet Sorrow
Alas, after more than a week with the
Sportsmobile, it was time to say good-bye. We had gone
everywhere together and it performed admirably, the go-anywhere
vehicle with the can-do attitude. Dropping it off at the plant,
I felt a tinge of sadness as I handed over the keys. Had I made
the cardinal sin of journalism by becoming emotionally attached
to my subject? You betcha! And I was floored when I learned that
I could have it all for less than the price of an upscale sport
utility vehicle. All this begged the question: Why own a SUV
when you can own a camper van that’s fun to drive, great in the
outdoors and complete with sink, galley and sleeping quarters
for four? Why indeed? Why indeed?