It’s this amazingly well-done Piaggio Ape TM!
Build blog (in German):
(Google-Translated to English):
Don’t forget to click continue at the bottom of the blog page to go to the next page as well!
Short Youtube video with details:
The blog is in German, so Google Translate is your friend if you want to get the gist, but there are a lot of really clever and cool details on this on aside from the fact it’s built from a FRICKIN’ PIAGGIO APE.
First off, it’s designed to sleep two people and there is a surprisingly well-designed bed space to be able to fit them.
A really well-engineered ‘foot box’ flips INTO the camper body when the vehicle is driving and flips back out to give comfortable extra space for your feet when sleeping and acts as extra storage space when parked:
For the ‘kitchen,’ it has a sink with tap and 20L water supply, which is pretty impressive for a ‘camper’ this small. The permanent 30L ‘Kuhlbox’, a.k.a. refrigerator is sortof impressive from a tinkering/making POV to me as it seems to run off a Peltier Cooler rather than actual refrigerant to keep its contents cool (maybe thermoelectric cooling is common in RVs? I’ve never heard of it used commonly in that application). The Peltier element is mounted on what looks to be a computer CPU cooler heatsink with ducting to send the hot air out a vent on the side of of the camper body.
There is a two-burner stove as well with it’s own dedicated space that doubles as a food prep area and the removable half-suspended table can also apparently be mounted outside as well, so it’s neat they designed it for dual use!
Otherwise, there is a portable toilet with it’s own dedicated space (also impressive for an camper space this small), plus a nicely placed little mirror embedded in the cabinet door above the sink. The cabinet below the sink features a bin mounted on the door designed to make the best use of space near the water tank.
There is a huge solar panel on the roof providing 160 watts of power. LED lights abound (including non-TUV-approved headlight bulbs to make up for the Ape’s weak forward lighting...) for a nice amount of light but with little electrical load, and controllers and monitor panels for the electrical system are all handily mounted for access. The LED strip around the roof is RGB, so can be changed to different colors for fun or to be easier on the eyes at night - two LED spotlights allow for reading or the like from the bed area at night, and a few other spotlights give ample visibility to key areas (like the sink). A few scattered outlets and 12v sockets give power for devices like laptops or small appliances. Two small opening windows with screens and two skylights help keep the interior feeling surprisingly open and airy, and the small bump over the top of the Ape’s cab provides yet more storage space.
Some details are really well done - the way the one storage bin was designed around the ‘pop-up’ clothes organizers that can be lifted and hung above for access is also really cool and well-thought-out. The camper body is made of what looks to be weatherproof marine grade plywood and aluminum, so super light, but durable- the whole thing only weighs in at around 500kg (1100lbs) and the rear camper body is apparently designed to be completely separate and removable from the Ape body so that the vehicle doesn’t qualify as an ‘RV’ to save on costs, but instead the camper body just qualifies as a ‘load’ being carried on the back of the Ape....pretty smart use of working around the rules there!
A neat little exterior storage box was mounted in the unused space outside on the right side just in front of the rear wheel and the owners use it for things like the mains cable for plugging it in to outlets at campsites, bottles of 2-stroke oil and measuring cups for mixing fuel, tools, and the like. No empty space was wasted!
The Ape TM703, as their model is, either came with a single-cylinder 218cc petrol 2-stroke engine or single-cylinder 422cc diesel engine. Their camper’s engine is the former...and, to cope with the camper rebuild, was upgraded with an aftermarket Polini cylinder/jug to a MASSIVE 225cc, giving a tiny power bump and bit of a torque bump. An aftermarket exhaust is on there as well! It can now rock out, apparently, to a truly mindblowing 65kph on relatively flat roads...a performance machine, it is not. BUT, I imagine it is good for a lot of smiles per gallon...both from the people driving and using it, and anybody who sees it! :D
I’m not a huge camping or RV person, but builds like this are really cool to look at and make me want to get out there and do something similar! They spent a grand total of 7232 Euros on their build, including the purchase of the Ape (likely not including their own labour costs), but that’s not bad! I’ve spent a good hour pouring over the details of this one! :)
Hope some of you get as much of a kick out of it as I have....probably not, but I really like quirky vehicles and a lot of rational and smart thinking went into designing and building this very irrational and fun vehicle...that’s the kind of thing I can get behind as a petrolhead! :P