hardly guess that Phoenix was designed and built nearly 20 years ago, long before
downsized vans were fashionable. Closed up for driving, Phoenix has the sleek look of a
modern sports van. Its low frontal area coupled to a curb weight of only 2,000 pounds make
it a low-rolling-resistance featherweight, even by today's standards. That, along with its
VW van chassis, translates into 25-mpg highway fuel economy and nimble handling.
Nitrogen-cylinder-assisted gull-wing doors provide easy entrance into the low-profile
cab. Two bucket seats in front allow central walk-through space into the rear. The rear is
set up with bench seats along each side. Each bench seat has a lift-up top so food,
clothes, and other bring-alongs can be stored underneath. Storage area totals about 14
cubic feet per side.
Phoenix expands tent-trailer style into a large room with stand-up height in the center
for a six-foot adult. With the camper expanded, the section along each side that normally
forms the back of the bench seat now extends out horizontally to become part of the bed
(one bed along each side). Each bed measures 72 x 59 inches. Overall, the unit measures 12
feet wide across the bed area. The seat area is covered with three-inch-thick foam
padding, which then serves as a built-in mattress when the camper is expanded.
Appliances are located across the extreme rear, above the engine cover. A sink is on
the right, a mirror-faced ice box is in the center, and a two-burner propane stove is on
the left. The stove uses disposable cylinders, which are the only kind legal in the
absence of a power-vented stove hood. Water is carried in a 9-gallon plastic tank located
under the ice box.
The cost to build Phoenix is about $2,000. For more information on how to build the
body, click on One Off Construction Using FRP/Urethane Foam
Phoenix was first featured in Popular Mechanics magazine, in March, 1978. Mechanix
Illustrated magazine featured a restyled version called "Renegade" in their
March 1984 issue. Phoenix/Renegade was used as a background vehicle in the movie Total
Length: 165 inch
Width: 72 inch
Width Expanded: 144 inch
Height: 71 inch
Track: 60-1/2 inch
Wheelbase: 94-1/2 inch
Body Construction: Fiberglass over foam composite