Home » Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Cybertruck-Shaped Camper Trailer That Almost Makes Sense

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Cybertruck-Shaped Camper Trailer That Almost Makes Sense

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The shape of the Tesla Cybertruck makes for a better tiny home than a motor vehicle: prove me wrong.

Finding ways to criticize the looks of Elon’s late-to-arrive pickup concept is like shooting fish in a barrel. However, despite the endless assault on the design, it’s not that basic form is necessarily bad; it’s just misused. A fez, for example, is a fine thing to wear to a Shriner’s convention but attempting to use the design for a crash helmet would be ill advised. Trying to turn something that looks like an architect’s vision of a modernist metal-clad residence into a motor vehicle is an equally poor choice. The Cybertruck doesn’t even look like it should have wheels.

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Tesla

So if the Cybertruck could make a better house than a car, what if we used the basic shape to make a tiny home, and one that could be a mobile?

There have also been numerous proposals of campers for the Cybertruck; a mind boggling number actually considering that a production version of this elusive truck is currently as real as the Easter Bunny. We reported on several, including one that has an interior which seems best suited to performing autopsies in:

Space Campers Tesla Cybertruck Truck Overlander Office2

Loki Basecamp and Space Campers

One firm has obviously tired of waiting for Elon’s dream to appear and already made a camper trailer that echoes the shape of the Cybertruck.  It’s very much a case of the shape applied awkwardly to something in a manner that runs counter to its function; there’s barely any headroom in the front and back ends:

Landtraveler Cybertruck Is Perfect Companion To Teslas Cybertruck

Landtraveler

This lack of success in making a viable camper to fit a truck that is not yet for sale, or even making a camper trailer that looks like the Tesla truck, is not stopping me from attempting a concept that might actually make sense.

I’m envisioning something that takes inspiration from an unlikely source. In the early seventies, an innovative manufacturer released the Harmon Shadow trailer. This highly maneuverable camper featured a ‘fifth wheel’ style hitch oddly mounted to the roof of the tow vehicle.

1972 Chevrolet Impala Harmon Shadow Camper Front Driver

Facebook Marketplace

You might think that pulling a ton or two of camper by your car’s rain gutters would be a bad idea, and you’d be right; we can assume bent roofs are the primary reason that the company died. Still, the idea of a sleeper area cantilevered OVER the passenger compartment of the tow vehicle seems like an interesting idea, if you could make it work with a standard hitch. That way you get extra bunk space for two more people in the length of a smaller trailer.

Below is the basic standard-hitch concept I’m proposing. The overall appearance is very similar to the Cybertruck, but you can see that the peaked roof actually makes functional sense in the trailer. It’s taller in the middle where you get into the loft space but tapers down to nothing where your feet just don’t need as much space (and it’s lightweight so the cantilever isn’t adding much mass, easily counterbalanced if needed by the water tanks and/or batteries in back). Also, the fact that it tapers down in front cuts through the wind, and the top surface is covered in solar panels (charging either batteries on board or to pump into your EV). All US states allow for trailers up to thirteen feet tall, and this one would be well under that at the tallest point.

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Tesla and The Bishop

I’ve added just enough wood trim to the lower flanks to add a ‘tiny house’ feel without looking too much like you’re towing a cottage. There’s even wheel skirts that can cover the tires when you’re parked at home (for looks and to protect the rubber from UV rays). The lower side windows are covered in silver tinting film to blend in with the metal finish. The air conditioning unit is partially recessed into the roof on back.

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One additional benefit of this overhang when the trailer is stationary is that there is a covered area under the cantilevered sleeper. The tow bar is designed to slide under the trailer and stow away to make all of this area usable. This space would be ideal for covered outdoor dining at a campsite or even outside of your home, and drop down screens could provide a mosquito-free porch space. There’s an area for an optional flat screen and even ethanol-fueled fireplace to make it especially cozy.

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Also, if you’re putting this thing in your driveway, it takes up far less space than a typical camper that sleeps six as you can park at least part of your car under the overhang (or even a whole car if a Smart Fortwo is in your stable). If you park nose first it will keep the sun and precipitation off of at least the front of your vehicle (great for a Tesla where there’s no engine heat to melt the snow on the hood or windshield).

There could be different front sleeper sections available, and they could be removed and replaced like the bolt-on options on a late eighties Nissan Pulsar NX. The shorter sleeper would require a much tighter sideways sleeper, less open overhead space inside, and generally speaking be more camper than tiny home, but it would still work:

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Also, our resident RV expert Mercedes Streeter commented that with the longer cantilevered sleeper there might not be enough room to change pitch to get into some campsites or steep driveways without the top of the Tesla making contact with the trailer. Semi-jokingly she suggested ‘articulation’, unaware of the fact that insane ideas are what I go for. I mean, the Concorde supersonic airliner required a pivoting nose to allow pilots to see out on landing, so why not allow this to pivot on electric screw-jack lifts mounted to each side for the extreme cases where you need the room? It’s a pretty simple mechanism, honestly (have you seen the slide-outs on higher end campers?), and the nice thing about this is that if exclusively towed by Teslas the car should sense these pitch changes (or if you try to drive into a drive-thru or parking garage and forget the height) the car will just stop and make adjustments (or stop if it sees a billboard with a stop sign on it…sorry).

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The basic floorplan is similar to something like a 16 foot Airstream Bambi or Caravel, but with the addition of the upper bunk area.

Air My2020 Caravel 16rb Floorplan Wshadow 1600x0 C Default

Airstream (source image)

You can see in this view below (in long sleeper format) the ladder on the closet door to get you to the loft, and looking into the first floor ‘bedroom’ (with sliding privacy door):

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The dining table can sink down to create an extra sleeping space or raise up high to make a standing desk for you to use when this is used as an outdoor home office. Do not ask me ‘if this thing makes contact with my house can I write off the camper as a home office business expense?’ Asking a designer for tax advice is like, well, asking a designer for tax advice. Still, it’s a quiet place to do Zoom calls so there’s that.

I’m skeptical about when and if the Cybertruck will ever appear, and the camper solutions provided so far have been underwhelming. However, I’m as surprised as anyone that the shape is almost ideal for a sub-5000lb (the Tesla Model X’s towing capacity) trailer with more than a few tricks up its sleeve.

One thing is certain- we haven’t seen the last of the Cybertruck campers, even if the truck itself never appears.

 

all illustrations by The Bishop

Relatedbar

The Cheapest Tesla Cybertruck Camper Concept Yet Is A $24,000 Truck Cap That Might Cook You Like Bacon – The Autopian

The Daydreaming Designer Shows How To Make A Budget Tiny House From A Broken RV – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Auto Designer Reimagines A More Modern Version Of The Legendary GMC Motorhome That Died In 1978 – The Autopian

Elon Musk Tweets That Cybertruck Will Have A Feature That VW Beetles Had Over 80 Years Ago – The Autopian

I Saw The Prototype Tesla Cybertruck Up-Close. Here’s What I Thought – The Autopian

 

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25 Responses

    1. 10001010- hard to say. I would assume that the huge solar panel ramp would create too much downforce if anything. But then, at the same time, it could form a wing that could create the first flying Tesla (non-Mars bound). I’m going with the former, but since my aeronautics training is zero others would certainly know better.

      A rubber flap hanging down onto the roof of the Tesla would certainly help with the all-downforce route.

    2. This would be advertised as a feature, not a bug. Lift at freeway speed = lower effective mass = less effort to tow = better range?

      1. Lift is only ever created by drag. The drag created by increased lift would be much higher than the reduced rolling resistance on the bearings. The actual mass doesn’t change, so the energy required to accelerate wouldn’t change either.

      2. This reminds me of one of my brilliant innovations from when I was 12 – I wanted to mount one of those huge carbon fiber wings on our family car *but upside down* so we would get the benefit of a sweet looking family sedan plus better fuel economy on the highway! For some reason my dad didn’t follow through on that one.

      3. Haha. I was thinking the same thing! The faster you tow, the lighter it gets.

        If this was indeed designed as part of the Tesla ‘ecosystem’ they could perhaps put batteries in the floor and regenerative braking on the axle. Of course this all adds mass, which would be offset by the lift and therefore give almost infinite range.

        1. The slab wall is in the wake of the tow vehicle so I don’t think it would offset the lift from the overhang/wing that much. I think we’re going to need a clay model of this design and some time allotted on The Autopian wind tunnel housed in Jason’s basement.

          1. Actually, the Model X (that is an X, right? I don’t care enough about them to be sure) is on GrabCAD’s library, and the trailer would be fairly simple to model. If I get bored enough this weekend I’ll whip it up and throw it into Solidworks simulation.

            1. Mr. Asa – I think it is an X (and I am just as ignorant and uninterested in Tesla models) but if you did that I’d love to hear what you find out!

  1. I’d tow something like this behind my pickup. It’d be nice to have the significant overhang without installing a fifth wheel hitch. I’d rather it not look like a vaporware vehicle, but the utility of it is pretty good.

  2. Are the silver-tinted windows bulletproof?
    The screened porch is great. Offer a Murphy bed to make it into a Midwest sleeping porch—maybe an air mattress that auto-inflates as the bed swings down: just tap the app!

    1. TOSSABLE- no, that bulletproof part didn’t work so Tesla replaced them with a steel panel and put a camera on it that transmits the image to a flat screen where the window used to be. So it’s like a window, sort of.

  3. Back in the 70s someone was marketing a small fifth wheel trailer using a roof rack mounted hitch so the concept is workable. I’d sooner build in aluminum honeycomb panels than stainless steel plate to keep weight down and do a bit of aerodynamics

  4. I have a DIY camper on my truck that I like to redo every other year or so, to incorporate improvements and try out new ideas. A previous iteration had a sloping over cab sleeping area much as described here based on the same reasoning. Unfortunately it was far more compromised than I had hoped. Sure it’s fine once you’re snuggled up in your sleeping bag, but setting things up, getting changed etc was a hassle and you had to sort of hunch over at the big end. I was surprised how much the slope negatively impacted the comfort and usability of the sleeping area. My current design is the same overall height without the slope and it is SO much more useful and comfortable. Also, sometimes the slope of the campsite meant sleeping with your head at the narrow end which felt rather claustrophobic. I also played with some pop up/out designs and it just wasn’t worth the difficulty involved in keeping everything water proof and secure when bumping around off road. My grandparents had a camper that collapsed down to canopy height when driving that I always admired as a kid, but as a hack DIYselfer the idea didn’t seem nearly as cool.

  5. I love the design, but how about we go a step further and imagine a battery and motor in the trailer to help drive it down the road and take some of the load off the tow vehicle?

  6. Taking Mercedes physics thoughts about your pivot point one step farther, when you take a sharp turn your long cyber sleepers’s forward most corner will stick out a few feet on the opposite side ready to take out ( or get taken out by ) columns or trees or other vehicles, or the side of your garage. But if you did make it I would like to see one go down the road mounting a Cybertruck….

    1. Designer: “Easy, just add another pivot so it can swivel up, down, left, or right!”
      Boss: “Great idea, and remember this is a removable sleeper”
      Engineers: “For sure, we’ll get right on that… should be ready if, uh I-mean-when the cybertruck reaches production”

  7. This looks surprisingly practical. Being used to a smaller Aliner the bunk wouldn’t be too terrible.

    A fix for the angle issue would be lifting the trailer so it’s “off-road” or some other marketing BS. Charge more and decontent, baby!

    1. amber- actually, now that I think about it, if we’re talking about a company that proposes tunnels, Mars colonization, and where the founder is apparently making the surviving Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me into an actual submarine, how could he NOT make a functioning Harmon Shadow roof hitch? Or at least say he’s gonna do it?

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