RVs of the Apocalypse! Part 1: The Beetle Minihome
So, I’m back with a new feature. It’s one of the ironies of my career that, way back, I was strongly drawn to utopian literature, and the appeal came through in a lot of my earlier work, including the “Naughtenny Moore” stories where the exotrooper Zaratustra first appeared. But, I have ended up doing a lot more in the post-apocalyptic vein, including the junkyard-tech atmosphere of the Exotroopers franchise. In the process, I got to be a self-taught scholar in the field of mobile homes. Just from a practical perspective, a mobile home is the perfect vehicle with which to flee the fall of civilization. To my thinking, a mobile home also fits the post-apocalypse atmosphere, especially if it’s a homebuilt specimen, and better still if it’s the variety where the motorhome or trailer has been improvised from the components of an existing car. The results can be awe-inspiringly weird, and they don’t get much weirder than this…
The images above are among quite a few floating around the internet of the VW Beetle-based Minihome. Details of their history are predictably sketchy. Per an especially informative article at Weburbanist (the immediate source for the images above), the Minihome first appeared sometime in the 1960s, probably as an evolution of Beetle pickup conversions. At least two manufacturers made the homes commercially, and plans are still available online. In 1977, the Minihome was featured in Mechanix Illustrated, which was evidently the source for a detailed exploded diagram of the Minihome. These specs indicate a total length of ten feet, and accommodations that included two fold-out beds, and a fridge, a kitchen stove and sink that could slide out for outdoor use. It is safe to assume that many different variations of the concept were built. Here is a concept I created for Re-Deanimator with a Gypsy influence:
As a bonus, here’s a second Beetle-based concept. Quite a few vintage Beetles ended up being turned into cargo trailers, usually with the rear end being used. I had the idea of turning the front end into a teardrop trailer, probably the oldest style of mobile home to see commercial production. The hood and wheels didn’t give the right shape or length, which I figured could be resolved with “leftovers” from the cab:
The result has been dubbed Eric, the Half A Bug!
David N. Brown