News & Info
1/19/10 — Mercedes-Benz, selected dealers, now sell Sprinter in place of Dodge as of January 1, 2010.
State-of-the-art wheelchair accessible Sportsmobile 4x4 van
debuts at 2009 SEMA Show then joins Baja run
11/3/09 — Sportsmobile West and the Disabled Explorers organization unveiled a state-of-the art Wheelchair Accessible Van for Expeditions (W.A.V.E. for short) built on a four-wheel-drive conversion and a list of custom options and mobility aids.
Below is a news television broadcast by KFSN-TV / ABC30 in Fresno about the new W.A.V.E. for mobility disabled adventurers.
The W.A.V.E. appeared for the first time at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) 2009 Show Nov. 3-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center to showcase and promote motorized access to the outdoors by the disabled community. From there, the W.A.V.E. is scheduled to prove its unique capabilities on a backcountry training trip to Baja Mexico.
A complete description of the W.A.V.E. project can be found at DisabledExplorers.com along with gear reviews and past adventure reports.
The list of accessibility details is long, from front seats that swivel and allow easy transfer from wheelchair — and a third removable seat with wheelchair tie-downs to secure someone in place who must stay in their chair — to roof racks by Aluminess for lights, solar panels support, antennas, and cameras.
The van’s Total Vision Camera Self Spotting System includes a roof rack camera looking down at the passenger side to check clearance for the wheelchair ramp before stopping on a trail.
The camera system has front and rear bumper cams along with the two axle cams to see what van is rolling over. The cameras also can be hooked into laptops to share trip recordings with others.
For nighttime or foul weather, outside LED lights by Rigid Industries on the roof rack provide front, side and rear lighting. Seeing clearly isn't just for trails, WAV planners point out, but it also makes a real difference in preventing suspension damage, busting a tire or missing a turn, all things that could strand a person with mobility issues who can't hike home.
The side and rear lights combined with the camera system provide plenty of ways to check the ground before getting out to make sure a wheelchair can get around or there isn't anything to trip up a lower limb amputee.
Other features include:
- Storage compartments within both bumpers for recovery gear have easy to open lockable latches that can be operated with one hand and aren't too high for someone in a wheelchair.
- Sideways gaucho sofa allows access to the rear of the rig without having to exit.
- A large bay window by the third seat and long windows along the side provide maximum visibility during trail time.
- An Espar diesel heater and Pro-Air rear A/C, both important to paraplegic and quadriplegic travelers who are temperature sensitive.
- A Transfer Flow 46 gallon fuel tank for longer range and thus fewer times a disabled driver must exit the vehicle or struggle with fuel cans in remote areas.
A National Luna refrigerator has a top opening, low power draw, freezer/fridge with built-in battery protection and a “fast freeze” mode. This fridge from Equipment Expedition Outfitters solved problems of using a standard side-opening RV style refrigerator that either opens into a chair-users wheels or requires a person with balance issues to bend over.
ARB, one of the primary W.A.V.E. sponsors, donated a front air locker to handle the extra weight of mobility lifts and equipment. ARB also makes the special order partial military wrap springs and shocks that Sportsmobile puts under their 4x4 conversions. These springs are one of the subtle things the disabled look for because the partial wrap will help retain the leaf spring in case of failure.
The W.A.V.E. also boasts an Atlas II transfer case that Sportsmobile installs. If rear axle problems should arise, the driver can shift into front wheel drive only — a tremendous advantage for those who can't walk out of the backcountry, possibly even making the difference between a slow drive home and a rescue.
The mission of Disabled Explorers, an Arizona based 5-1c3 non-profit, volunteer-run and donation-supported organization, is to enhance the quality of life for the disabled through independent backcountry travel. If you have any physical mobility issue or know someone who does, contact Disabled Explorers about a day trip or overnight outing in the W.A.V.E..
Many companies are supporting the W.A.V.E. project with excellent solutions to assist the disabled with backcountry adventure. Please check back with Sportsmobile West or Disabled Explorers often to see what is new with the W.A.V.E., where it has been lately, and where you can see it.
11/9/10 — An article about the W.A.V.E. from the October edition of Four Wheeler Magazine is on the 4x4 Mobile Disabled Explorers page.
Ford discontinues van diesel engines November 2009
9/29/09 — We have just been informed that Ford Motor Company will discontinue the diesel engine option for vans effective Nov. 20 this year.
New orders for Ford vans with diesel engines can be placed until Nov. 20.
After that date, only existing inventory with this engine will be available.
Ford advises us that the diesel motor option for Ford vans might not be available for up to three years.
So if you are interested in a Ford van with the diesel engine, we advise you not to wait until Nov. 20 to place your order.
The closer to the cut-off date, the less assurance your order will be built.
MSN review cites Sportsmobile in Top 10 RVs
Sportsmobile website crashes under load of visitors taking a look
Sportsmobile.com crashed Friday, June 5, due to an extraordinary amount of visitors following an MSN.com auto review citing the Sportsmobile Ultimate 4x4 as one of the "10 coolest recreational vehicles roaming the roads today."
Sportsmobile.com returned online Sunday. Unfortunately, e-mail also was down during that time. If you don't receive a reply to your e-mail, we ask that you please resend it.
While we are all grins about the Top 10 ranking, we apologize for any inconvenience caused by the site crash. The story panel is shown below.
Headline: Here are 10 of the coolest recreational vehicles roaming the roads today.
— by Charles Plueddeman, MSN Autos
Country of Qatar awards contract for 17 search
and rescue vans to Sportsmobile West
Movie of TV news report, click play button below
Latest update — The order of the 17 Elite Search & Rescue vans has been completed by Sportsmobile West. The vans are are being trucked to the Baltimore Seaport for shipment to Qatar. They are scheduled to arrive Sept. 1 in Qatar.
Sportsmobile West recently received a military contract from Qatar to build 17 customized search and rescue vans. The vans will serve as first responders to many of the world's catastrophic events as part of Qatar's "Humanitarian Mission to the World" program.
"This is one of the biggest contracts Sportsmobile West has ever been awarded," Sportsmobile West President Alan Feld said, "and we are proud to be developing the vans for such a cause. For nearly 18 years, Sportsmobile has specialized in building one of the very best off-road vehicles on the market, with a 12-gear 4x4 system. We are sure our friends from Qatar will be very happy with the final product."
The contract was awarded following a late 2007 visit from a Qatar delegation to Sportsmobile West's Fresno facility.
17 Elite Search & Rescue Vans: one Command vehicle, two Support vehicles, two K-9 vehicles (8 dogs per van),
12 Transport vehicles. Each of the 12 Transport vehicles will accommodate 12 passengers. In total, the Transport vans will be able to remove 144 people in one mission.
Ford Econoline (E350) Chassis:
- 12 Gear Sportsmobile 4x4 System
- Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60 front axle
- Atlas 2 Transfer Case
- Hella powered top-mounted flood light system
- 12,000 lb. front mounted Warn winch
- 46 gallon gas tank (long range fuel capacity)
- Industry-leading Aluminess Front and Rear Bumper Package
- 35-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tires mounted on American Racing wheels
Command Center Van During any major event having the proper command center is the most critical component to ensure all communication channels are working together. The Sportsmobile Command Center van will come equipped with a state of the Art communications system with global positioning, satellite communications and a host of other unique transmission features. Once the Command Center van has identified the key areas for search and rescue efforts, the next process involves recovery of possible survivors.
Dog Transport Vans The specially-designed dog transportation vans are for Labrador Retrievers and German Sheppard’s that are trained at an exclusive search and rescue camp. The dogs are skilled at detecting human scent and are trained to search through rubble for possible survivor’s onsite after a catastrophic event. Each van will have custom dog carriers integrated in to the vans interior that will accommodate up to eight dogs.
The Sportsmobiles boast many unique structural features. With a 6.0 liter, diesel engine, the Sportsmobile’s are equipped with a 46 gallon gas tank that allows for long distance travel. Riding on 35 inch BF Goodrich Off-Road Tires, the Sportsmobile chassis has been upgraded to include a 12-gear 4x4 system, Atlas II Transfer Case, 12,000lb. Warn Winch, ultra strong and ultra light front and rear Aluminess Bumpers, and specialized lighting.
The vans also have been designed to fit on a C130 transport plane. All of the vans will be painted bright red search and rescue colors.
Kawasaki Sponsor Spotlight - Sportsmobile
Story and photos by Teri Conrad (9/25/07) — This article is reprinted from Kawasaki Magazine that was was sent to all Kawasaki owners and passed out at the Kawaski dealers meeting in mid-September at Las Vegas, Nev.
Travel in style without leaving your bike at home!
These days sports enthusiasts are traveling in style while bringing their toys with them. An alternative to the toy hauler or trailer, the Dodge Sprinter Van by Sportsmobile won't limit your freeway driving speeds to 55 mph or hurt your gas budget. As a matter of fact, this vehicle is a 5-cylinder turbo-diesel that averages 24 mpg in freeway/city driving conditions.
Sportsmobile provides updated alternatives for those who wish to travel with the modern conveniences found in many RVs. The company converts Ford, Chevy/GM vans, and Dodge Sprinters into luxurious four-wheeled travel homes — or portable offices — and is ideal for hauling, stowing and touring with your motorcyles. You can even design your own interior to fit your specific needs.
The ROKTM Van is a Lopes 55 model which has a bedroom/bathroom/kitchen/dining room and can easily hold two motorcycles (in some cases three) in the back. This model is very popular with bicyclists and motorcyclists and takes its design cues from Brian Lopes, 17-time Mountain Bike Champion (hence the name).
There is seating for up to five adults and plenty of storage for gear. There is even a portable toilet which doesn't require hookup. A portable shower is easy to hookup in the back where the motorcycles are stored, and an optional work bench for making repairs on the go. Starting price is high $40s but depends on the configuration and upgrades involved. Ours came with several custom upgrades like synthetic leather ($1,200), upgrade audio/video with flip-down and in-dash TV/DVD ($7,000), carbon-fiber dash ($400) and upgraded tires ($850), plus our custom wrap.
ROKTM takes it to the streets in custom Sprinter van
And how better than to advertise our enthusiast club than a moving billboard!
You may have seen the customized ROK Sportsmobile at several West Coast ROK events this summer already, cruising the streets and around the track. Enthusiasts who've attended the races at Fontana, Infineon and MotoGP may even have seen it parked near the ROK Hospitality Area.
It's a real attention-getter dressed in fresh action graphics accompanied by logos of ROK sponsors: California Superbike School, GEICO Powersports, JC Motors, Joe Rocket, Lo Jack, MASA, Monster Energy, RawHyde Adventures, Sportbike Track Time, Sportsmobile and ROK. The thought-provoking taglines like — "It's not like we talke about bikes all day, just when we're not riding them" and "You can't read it. You can't download it. You can only experience it." — are hard to miss and may even remind us of why we choose to ride.
If you're interested in purchasing the custom ROK Sportsmobile, it will be available for sale in mid-October. Contact Alan Feld at Sportsmobile West Inc. at 559.233.8267, or e-mail info at sportsmobile dot com. Be sure to look for the ROK Sportsmobile on display at the Pomona RV Show, Oct. 12-21, 2007, at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. Visit carvshow.com for more information.