BY: TREVOR HEWITT
A truck rests in a California backyard, a tree growing out its pale blue back, along decades of rust.
That’s what Russ Moen saw when he first found what would become one of the most badass personal camper vehicles ever. Finished in 2010, the restored 1954 Chevy has received awards at every show it’s attended, the Vancouver Sun reports.
The project took Moen over 6000 hours, but he had lots of help. The electrician first went over schematics with friend and draftsman Mike Pearson. “[I] gave him a bunch of pictures and told him to put that in a drawing,” he told Hotrod. We must’ve gone back 50, maybe 100 times tweaking this and that.” In the end, Moen created the camper by combining the frame of a 1985 Elite motorhome with the front of the cab-over truck.
“Then we did the dirty-grimy thing to mount the engine to the frame,” he continues. The ‘Tourliner,’ as Moen calls the camper, contains a 12-valve Cummins diesel engine designed by drag racer Malcolm Cross, an acquaintance of Moen’s.
Then came the body. Moen explains that although he was initially looking at aircraft chassis for a camper shell, they all came at aircraft prices. “It was my wife, actually, who asked, ‘Well you want to make it look like an upside-down boat, why don’t you get a boat builder,’” Moen told Hotrod. Luckily, his friend Karl Foeshe did just that.
Working out a design, Foeshe designed the frame, made from aluminum. “He’s kind of picky like me and he’s very good at what he does,” Russ told Hotrod. “He did it very well.”
With the framework complete, Moen set off to finish the exterior. He spent over six months polishing the camper, but says that he was unhappy with the result after he took it out into the sun. “I didn’t like the way it looked,” he told Hotrod. “The image is all broken up by seams on a plane or trailer but mine’s continuous. So I just sanded it down and painted it. I’m happy with the decision but man, it was a lot of work.”
The finished camper sports a fully functioning bathroom with toilet and shower, a bed big enough for two and sleek, polished floors made from teak and maple. A diesel stove and heater, Nova Kool refrigerator and an electric hot-water heater complete the ensemble. Despite its size and functionality, the Tourliner weighs only 10,000 pounds. Due to diesel’s efficiency, the camper is cheap on fuel. “I get 20 miles per U.S. gallon,” Moen brags to Hotrod.
Rather than relying solely on mirrors, Moen’s camper uses three vision tech cameras – two mounted in the 1939 Chevrolet taillights on its sides and a third at the back – broadcast to the overhead console at its front, for increased safety.
Moen says that the Tourliner is perfect for cross-country travels. “When you pull into a truck stop you can kick back and watch a movie or something.” Despite its general awesomeness, there are drawbacks to having such a kickass ride. Moen says that, often times, when he stays at RV lots, car enthusiasts can’t resist knocking on his door at all hours of the night.
“People are always knocking on the door when you’re trying to go to bed. I don’t mind it, but it’s not good for my wife.” Despite the oglers, Russ and his wife have taken the Tourliner to major landmarks across Canada and the U.S.