flat4 -  "The Brubaker" - Teil 3
zurück zur Fortogalerie
zurück zur Brubaker-Hauptseite
zurück zu Teil 2
Brubaker Van
Zitat: Dune Buggies and Hot VWs April 1977
AutoMecca SportsVan

By Scott McMillan

The summer of '72 saw the cover of DB&HVWs graced with "The Box," the
ultimate extension of the mini-van concept. Here was a unit that bolted to
the standard VW pan and transformed it into a 21st century multi-use
vehicle. Unfortunately, the new company was beset with the problems all
new companies face, and for a while, it appeared as if "The Box" was going
to be still-born.

Eventually the entire company was reorganized, and a few cars rolled
down the street, and into the garages of happy owners. All of this took
quite a bit of time, and during the ensuing five years since DB&HVWs first
reported on "The Box," fewer than 35 cars were produced. Although Boxes
were not exactly crowding the freeways, the public was still hot to own a
Box of it's own and each month brought inquiries drifting in to DB&HVWs
from prospective purchasers.

Well, "The Box" is back in business, and if you were one of those folks
who were turned on by it back in 1972, now is the time to order one.
AutoMecca Industries in Chatsworth, California, has picked up where the
former company left off and, as you are reading this, is producing the
Roamer SportsVan, the now renamed Box.

Mechanically the Roamer SportsVan is a Volkswagen, and it's engine can
be as wild of as stock as the customer chooses. Generally, the
performance of the SportsVan is better than a stock bug because the body
presents a considerable weight savings over the stamped steel unit from
Wolfsburg. Better mileage is also to be expected, due as much to the better
aerodynamics of the Roamer SportsVan as to the reduction in weight the
engine is asked to haul around. Suspension is also VW, and the handling
tricks used to upgrade the roadability of the basic bug also benefit the

The body of the Roamer SportsVan has been called unique, and that it is.
Overall, the body is just one inch longer than the VW pan it attaches to, but
it provides a whopping eight inches more in interior elbowroom. Because
of its box-like configuration interior space is also way, way up over stock.
The body is assembled from eleven different fiberglass component
modules, and can be tailored to the individual's least whim or desire.

Exterior body color can either be mixed in to the gel coat of the initial 'glass
lay-up (color choice is almost totally unlimited, and fabrics could be
utilized a la skateboards if you desire something in plaids, paisleys, or
floral prints), or the SportsVan can be painted. Again, as with gel coat
coloring, the only limiting factor would be imagination or budget. But what
ever finish is decided on, the Roamer SportsVan wears it well. Color
combinations already rumbling down the road range from formal black, to
two-and three-and even four-toned paint jobs, complete with murals to
decorate the broad flanks of some of the more custom Boxes.

Interiors again reflect the custom tastes of the individual, and most go
beyond the use of stock VW buckets for the front. In the SportsVans
inspected at the factory, all were fitted with the excellent Hunter reclining
bucket seats, and the choice of interior fabrics and colors was enough to
dazzle the modern design editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
There can be no doubt about it, the Roamer SportsVan is a custom item,
whether your tastes run to top grade leather or crushed velvet, the
SportsVan can be tailored to your individual requirements. Rear seating is
provided by a deep-seated, plush couch that wraps around the rear of the
vehicle, and provides comfortable seating for two six-footers, with
occasional seating for two more slightly smaller folks on the side-facing
cushion behind the drivers' seat.

The Roamer SportsVan has been designed from the ground up as a safety
vehicle. It makes use of special energy absorbing front and rear bumpers
that are custom made by AutoMecca. These very attractive units are
laminated fiberglass and industrial plywood, attached to special energy
absorbing mounting brackets. That they are effective was brought
graphically to our attention when a SportsVan was accidentally backed
into a wall at the factory, neither van or bumper suffered any apparent
damage, while the cinder block wall definitely came out on the short end.

Further safety considerations have gone into the interior design of the
SportsVan. The front passengers sit well back from the windshield and are
further protected by a well-padded knee bar restraint. All switches knobs
and control devices are located in the body panel to the left of the steering
wheel. This placement eliminates the driver "fumbling" while on the road.
The body hull itself incorporates box beam construction, with integral
rollbar, this, along with the resilient strength inherent in fiberglass
construction, gives the SportsVan excellent crash survivability, To further
improve body rigidity, the vehicle makes use of only one door, a whopping
four foot opening in the passenger side of the structure that allows easy
in-out access, without undermining basic body strength. In the event that
someone should lay a SportsVan on it's door side, all occupants can easily
scramble to safety through the almost nine square feet of opening
provided by the 36-in.x32-in. Sunroof. All in all a very well thought out

The Roamer SportsVan is a custom car, and like all custom cars production
is limited. At this writing AutoMecca is producing twenty SportsVans per
month. This works out to about five a week, or roughly the same number of
cars as produced each week by, say, Austin Martin. The big difference is in
price, and option availability. There is literally no option (maybe a
swimming pool) that can not be built into an AutoMecca SportsVan. Such
is not the case even with Rolls-Royce, whose production figures look like
the output from Ford when placed next to those of the Box. A top of the
line Rolls-Royce would set you back a cool 100 G's, but it's doubtful that
the factory would decorate the haunches of the car with a delicate lace
paint job, but for less than $6000, AutoMecca will supply you with a ready
to go SportsVan built to your specs.

That's right, for about 1/20th of the cost of a production Rolls, the owner of
a Roamer SportsVan gets what amounts to a total custom car. According to
the price information made available from AutoMecca, they will convert a
customer's VW to a Deluxe SportsVan for $5,265. Now, if you figure that
your running gear will probably cost about $600, the total price of a custom
Roamer SportsVan is still about a thousand dollars less than a new VW
camper. Not bad in these days of the mini-dollar.

The SportsVan is also available as a kit, ready to bolt down on your
chassis. Because the body section is so sophisticated, it arrives
pre-assembled, and with the door installed. The standard body kit includes
the complete shell, fully bonded, riveted and painted (or gel coated). All
window glass is installed, including windshield, and sliding side windows.
Of course, safety glass is used throughout. As previously mentioned, the
door is installed and carefully fitted to insure proper fit and seal. All
necessary holes are cut for the gauges, and the wiring harness is laid in.
The kit makes use of a number of stock VW electrical components such as
switches, wiper motor, headlights, etc. Other parts come from the VW body.
The kit includes virtually all components necessary to build a SportsVan
(even the carpeting, seats, and little items like the rear license plate light)
and home construction time is generally on the order of a few days, not

A Deluxe kit is also available, and it is ready to bolt onto your chassis.
Everything is fitted and pre tested at the factory, and the car is totally
detailed before shipping. When the giant crate arrives at your home, almost
as much time is consumed in unpacking as fitting. With a VW pan in
reasonably straight condition fitting the body could be accomplished in a
single day. Included in the deluxe kit are all gauges and a special steering

In addition to the two kits just described, AutoMecca also sells an
unpainted "bare-bones" kit which is intended for the home builder who
feels he can cut costs with a little junkyarding. By eliminating the two front
seats, rear seat upholstery, all carpeting, the headliner, the taillight
assemblies, the side lights, dome lights, parking lights, license plate light,
stainless steel windshield trim and the two rear wheel well sets, the price
can be brought down from $3,950 to just about $2,800. Price for the deluxe
kit, ready to mount on your own chassis is $4,875.

AutoMecca also offers a comprehensive list of options including AM/FM
stereo radio with 8-track ($195), a variety of side portholes ($125), air
conditioning, a specially designed ice chest and numerous other items,
Further, they will arrange for customers to purchase VW chassis if they
don't already have one, will allow "trade-ins" and allowances on VW
Bodies and components depending on year and condition. 

Now in the planning stages, AutoMecca has just about finalized the design
of their Baja Box, a SportsVan designed for rugged off road use. That the
car is up to that sort of punishment was shown at Riverside last year when
a stock SportsVan was entered in the SCORE World Championships and
came in a credible seventh in its class. For those who's off-roading is a
little more tame, the Roamer SportsVan can be mounted on the Thing
chassis (thus improving ground clearance) and converted into a
campmobile supreme.

Starting a new business isn't easy. Starting a new automobile company is
almost impossible. History is littered with cars like Packard, Studebaker,
and Kaiser. Cars which just didn't survive in the market. Well, despite
overwhelming odds, the Box has survived. Its first five years were as
stormy as any in the annals of automotive history. But now the company is
on a firm footing, and its top management has a clear idea of what they
expect to do. Company President Mike Hansen summed it up recently.
We've learned a lot since our first attempt," he says. " AutoMecca as
pre-produced 32 units and tested the vehicle thoroughly, simplified the
production, and restructured the market plan. More realistic goals - that's
the biggest difference this time." Says Hansen. "We're not trying to start a
West Coast auto industry-just a profitable business."

Now that cars are available, and orders are rolling in, off road racer and
company president Hansen will get his wish. The Box, now officially
renamed the AutoMecca Roamer SportsVan, is back. Not only that, but it is
healthier than ever before. Enthusiasts can now shout Hallelujah, and
start lining up to buy one, because The Box is back.

Zurück zur Brubaker-Hauptseite

Volkswagen und VW sind eingetragene Warenzeichen der Volkswagen AG. Geschützte Produkt- oder Firmennamen werden zu rein nichtkommerziellen Zwecken zitiert.
Stand 08.11.1999