first encounter with MiniHome was on a Los Angeles freeway where we
passed each other heading in opposite directions. I immediately took chase. Nobody could pass a
motorhome with a VW Beetle protruding from its front
without finding out the details. As it turned out, these
VW-based mini-motor homes were being custom-manufactured by a small shop in
Irvine, California. The name for the vehicle was Lil Bugger, Bugger being a derivative of Bug for the VW Bug. It seemed innocent enough to me. After driving one, I negotiated with the owner for
the rights to publish plans under the Mechanix Illustrated logo. Fast forward to a conversation with Bob Beason, MI's Editor. He liked the idea, but there was no way it would be pubished with their logo on the plans while having a name like that. Within a few months the little motor
home was on the cover of Mechanix Illustrated magazine as MI's MiniHome. But underneath that innocent-looking decal across the cab-over still lies the offending name that almost killed a very interesting set of plans.
Despite its contradictory appearance, MiniHome is an amazing little vehicle. Due to its
wide offset wheels, beefed up stabilizer bar, and rear overload shocks, it handles very
much like the stock VW. And its overall design is one of the most clever packaging
solutions around. Inside, it has all the appointments and facilities of a standard camper.
Appliances and storage space are situated across the rear. The butane stove and stainless
steel sink located in the left rear corner mount to a single module that slides out the side so
you can cook and wash either outdoors or inside. A 50-lb size icebox is located in the
center rear, and a closet is located on the right. Turning the large swivel-base chairs
180 degrees (backs against the windshield) opens up the center so the modular lower bed
can slide out of its hideaway compartment. The cab-over section makes into another full-size bed
by folding down a hinged extension.
Driving MiniHome is an addictive experience. Acceleration and cornering are much like
the original VW. But one does have to negotiate a few trial turns in order to
gain confidence in its roll stability. MiniHome is much more stable than it looks. After a
few minutes behind the wheel, the pleasure of driving such a small vehicle, in comparison
to other RVs, begins to take effect. MiniHome has a feel much like that of the original Beetle. The only detriment is limited rear visibility, like many other RVs. That's the reason for the large outside mirrors. Also, maximum speed is reduced about 10 mph, and fuel
economy suffers slightly because of increased air resistance at highway speeds. Otherwise, you'll think you're driving a VW Beetle.
MiniHome is built like any other camper using 1 x 2 structural members covered with
paneling on the inside and conventional corrugated skin on the outside. Click on the
image of the rendering in the left margin to see an exploded view showing details of MiniHome's
construction and layout. Construction costs will run about $2000, plus the cost of the VW. Plans have complete instructions.
|Camper Length: 125 inch
Camper Width: 79 inch
Camper Height: 73-1/4 inch
This new edition of the plans includes ten large drawings printed on bond from 2D
CAD drawings. The expanded construction manual contains photographs of the interior and
exterior, and construction renderings generated from a 3D CAD model of the coach.