Home » Finally, The Galileo Shuttlecraft Amphibious Camper You’ve Waited Years For

Finally, The Galileo Shuttlecraft Amphibious Camper You’ve Waited Years For

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Is it really necessary to make more of the same replicas of television and film cars? Why must we put orange paint and a Confederate flag on yet another 1969 Charger that you know damn well would look a million times better sprayed in gloss black? Should you desecrate one more Delorean with Home Depot crap and waste another 1967 Dodge Polara hubcap on top of the simulated Mr. Fusion?

People can’t even get Bluesmobiles from the 1980 John Belushi film right, anyway; I’ve seen mid-sized Plymouth Furys and such with horribly incorrect graphics (I live fifteen minutes from where Jake and Elwood run the red light at Nelson Funeral Home, so I witness many, many, many tributes both good and bad).

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

There are plenty of other more obscure vehicles from motion pictures and TV reruns that need to be honored with a tribute. Some of these machines aren’t even cars, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be made to drive on the street or float on a lake. Let me explain.

Replicas
Mecum, Garage Kept Motors, Classic Auto Mall

Like many of our GenX readers, I turned the clunky knob of our black and white Zenith to some UHF channel, messed with the antenna, and watched reruns of the original 1966-69 “Star Trek”. In the years before George Lucas unleashed his saga on us, this (and “Space 1999”) was one of the few sci-fi experiences with cool vehicles on display. Certainly, the USS Enterprise itself was a compelling ship, as well as the Klingon’s ride, but I was partial to a rarely seen other vehicle: the Galileo shuttlecraft.

Screenshot (1007)
“Star Trek”/CBS Studios, Inc. (screenshot)

Honestly, after watching the video below, it seems that the shuttlecraft came close to not existing at all. This video is around 20 minutes long but I STRONGLY suggest clicking on the image below and investing the time to watch or at least scroll through if you’re even partially interested.

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Screenshot (1026)

 

The Toy Maker Develops The Thing The Toy Is Based On

In the sixties, AMT (Aluminum Model Toys) was one of the premier makers of scale models, and they latched onto the whole licensing of television show-related products for dear life. This company secured the rights to produce a scale replica of the Enterprise and also a second vehicle, reportedly the shuttlecraft. There was one hitch: the shuttlecraft didn’t exist yet. There’s a bay door at the back of the Enterprise so it was planned but nobody had gotten around to creating it until later, as the screenshots from the above video show.

Bay Doors
“Star Trek” CBS Studios, inc., Roddenberry Archive (Screenshot)

Matt Jeffries had designed the original Enterprise and also had concepts for the shuttlecraft, which looked a bit like scaled-down versions of the big ship.

Sketches
CBS Studios, inc. (screenshot)

This was a logical direction except for one thing: trying to make something with compound curves will blow the budget and schedule of any TV show. AMT actually offered to build the shuttlecraft mockup for free in exchange for the rights to sell the model kit, and ultimately the nearly unthinkable happened: the toy manufacturer ended up heavily involved in the design of the actual object they were to be making small replicas of.

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Working with AMT, the final design was developed with car customizer Gene Winfield keeping easier production in mind (as in building it in around 30 days). Winfield actually had helped a designer at Raymond Loewy’s famous firm. I’ve always thought that the flanks of the Shuttlecraft seemed similar to the fenders of the 1963 Avanti, and apparently, there is a reason; assigned designer Thomas Kellog was actually a member of the team responsible for that Studebaker GT car.

Avanti Cc
CBS Studios, inc., Studebaker

Building It Full Size, Or Sort Of

The final mockup was fabricated from a steel frame with plywood and sheet metal covering it, which allowed for curves in at least one plane.

Mockup
CBS Studios, inc. (screenshot)

Detailing was good enough to work in the shots, with flip down doors and compartments.

Outside
“Star Trek” CBS Studios, inc. (screenshot)

There was one interesting catch: the mockup was actually only three-quarters scale of what the “real” ship was supposed to be; when you see cast members leaving the shuttlecraft (like McCoy below) notice that they have to duck their heads down. A larger, separate set for interior shots with six foot tall Leonord Nimoy had to be made.

Duck
“Star Trek” CBS Studios, inc. (screenshot)

The model kit made by AMT was more simplistic than most hobbyists would have liked, and oddly enough it came out in 1974, a full five years after the show had ceased production (but was in heavy syndication on late-night television and devoured by hungry sci-fi nerds everywhere, especially those like me that were too young to have seen the first run). Various remakes of the model exist, and the latest ones available have exceptional accuracy and detail (including a toilet in the back).

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Model Kits
AMT/ Polar Lights

Back To Life As…A Floating Camper?

Despite being less-than-full-sized, the mockup was still around 21 feet long and over eight feet high. Wait, doesn’t that sound like the same dimensions as a Vixen 21 motorhome?

Vixen 21td 744x1024 1535646908 1
Vixen

Does that mean we could make a replica of this famous craft as a van or camper? Maybe, but what about those pontoons on the side? Remove them? Nah, that would kill the look. I say keep them, make them retractable, and have the whole thing work as an amphibious vehicle. Logical, right? At this point, Spock would raise his already raised eyebrows, but we’ll make like Bones and ignore him.

On the road, the shuttlecraft would be a standard eight-foot-wide road vehicle that could ostensibly be stored in a regular garage. Note the low headlights; this area is shown as vents in many of the early shuttle replicas but they were always supposed to be landing lights so we’re staying true to the original.

Land

However, head towards the open seas (well, a lake or something, since we don’t want to get overzealous) and it’s time to hit the switches 007 style. Side doors pivot up to simulate the wings on the original Star Trek machine and reveal the pontoons which inflate and extend outwards. The air suspension (same compressors that fill the pontoons) retracts the four road wheels as much as possible once you drive it into the water for lower drag.

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Water

What’s the powerplant, for land or water? I honestly don’t know or care, but I would think that if it’s ICE powered we’d want to look at something under the rear bed as in the Vixen, which is also ideal for a boat.

Img20230921 20531228a

We can’t stay exactly true to the windowless sides of the original, but we could hide the windows behind graphics, as seen on city buses with perforated holes (many states would require the front ones to be clear of course). Front windows could possibly retract, as could the roof over the front passenger’s area for open-air motoring or boating. The A/C unit would fit in the back to try to keep the roof clean.

Img20230922 21532967

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The interior layout would be virtually identical to the Vixen since it works so well with the limited space, with a kitchenette, a bath, a large bed in the back, and a dinette that converts to additional sleeping space. The dinette also works as seating for when traveling or with the backs aimed forward to allow it to be used as just transportation. I’m seeing a ladder on the door of the wardrobe to get you through a hatch to the roof for sunbathing or doing cannonballs into the lake (we might even offer a pop-up shade out back). The Vixen had a driver’s door which might be a good option here as well.

History Vixen 21 Turbo Diesel Floorplan
Vixen

Img20230922 21513818But why make it look like a shuttlecraft? Why not? Oddly enough, there is an amphibious camper supposedly offered by the Ta CAMI (Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International–that’s really the name) called the Terra Wind that gets its buoyancy from air bags that extend from the lower sides.

Terra Wind
CAMI

If anything, to my eye at least, this Terra Wind looks more ridiculous and less cohesive than this replica of a spaceship from a fifty-five-year-old television show that I’ve just drawn. Seriously, if you were going to make a reasonable pontoon house boat from scratch it would end up looking pretty much like this, anyway. Conversely, a clean-sheet-of-paper small Vixen-style camper wouldn’t fall too far outside of this look either.

Am I trying to talk myself into thinking that this thing is a logical creation? Pinch me on the neck, Mr. Spock! Please!

[Ed note: Somehow, The Bishop forgot that the designer of the Boss 302 Mustang actually designed an RV that looks remarkably like the Shuttlecraft! So, clearly, this is a great idea – MH]

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Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
8 months ago

I’ve always wanted to do the same thing, but using a Puddle Jumper from Stargate Atlantis. Same basic design, it’s just a green tube instead of a grey box, and the hatch is in the rear. It’d make a bitchin’ motorcycle hauler, too.

https://www.gateworld.net/wiki/images/5/5b/Puddlejumper.jpg

Dan Wolfson
Dan Wolfson
8 months ago

Great article by The Bishop. Here’s a better version of an amphibious vehicle currently in the works. http://www.poseidonamphibworks.com.
How about doing a story on this one?
https://photos.app.goo.gl/r3YFkwRcmNTxbkES8

Todd Woodward
Todd Woodward
8 months ago

Built one of these models in the ’70s and immediately proceeded to use it as a bathtub toy. Floated remarkably well.

86TVan
86TVan
8 months ago

FWIW, the one that got away for me was ’69 Charger in gunmetal blue and black top, American racing vector wheels. Mygawd that car was dead sexy.

Fawgcutter
Fawgcutter
8 months ago

Aluminum Model Toys eh? That’s one I have to add. One of my high school classmates. whose father was an AMT executive (when it was at headquartered off Maple Road in Troy, MI, many moons ago), claimed “AMT” changed so often, he forgot what it meant. Anyway, AMT was also famous for the plastic models at the US dealerships that the salespeople would use if the didn’t have a real car in stock back in the sixties and seventies. The last AMT model car I have is an Oldsmobile Intrigue.

SK2807
SK2807
8 months ago

I see a little silhouetto of a van
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro, magnifico

David Escargot
David Escargot
8 months ago
Reply to  SK2807

Came here for this… leaving satisfied

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago

Bishop, this is cool and everything, but I think you know which RV-based space ship we really want.

That’s right, Lone Star’s ride from Spaceballs!!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

With rocket boosters!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

Reminds me of this:

https://jalopnik.com/for-400-could-this-1995-oldsmobile-silhouette-project-1790706570

The images can still be seen here:

http://www.the2904.org/teams/29

I was quite the deal for $400.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
8 months ago

I’m ashamed to admit that for many years I thought the shuttlecraft name was Galileo 7. I’m not even a good nerd. I never saw Star Trek until syndication because our local inbred affiliate decided The Lawrence Welk Show was the way to go. I still harbour a grudge. Love what you’ve done here.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
8 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

oh god; the syndication network with SO MUCH Lawrence Welk… those smiles… everyone smiling… all the time…
Thank god for Benny Hill, though.

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
8 months ago

“The A/C unit would fit in the back to try to keep the roof clean”

Nah, just disguise the A/C as the head of an R5 astromech and stick it on the roof.

James Davidson
James Davidson
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

Wrong universe! 🙂

Last edited 8 months ago by James Davidson
Phuzz
Phuzz
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

Everyone knows the astromechs are from Battle Star Galactica, instead, make it look like a skutter!

Six Inna Row Makes it Go
Six Inna Row Makes it Go
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

That would be a great way to start fights in the parking lot at your local sci-fi convention.

Philip Dunlop
Philip Dunlop
8 months ago

Built the AMT Galileo model when I was a kid because it was one of my favourite Trekkie ships along with the Klingon D7/K’tinga (also built the Qo’NoS One from Star Trek VI – the first movie I was old enough to see in the cinema).

The TNG shuttle has side windows, so that might fix the need for a Contravision wrap.

Philip Dunlop
Philip Dunlop
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

All true.

Incidentally, the original set piece was found in a bad way, and restored, about a decade ago. https://youtu.be/SzvqbNk9o_A?si=wsVlWD1oKp1S4qem

Library of Context
Library of Context
8 months ago

I really like the use of the 82-86 Trans Am tail lights.

As a GM product of the mid-80s they offer a great advantage for this application: they’re probably already filled with water before you leave land.

But for real – as far as propulsion is concerned, you could install some electrically driven props on the pontoons. This would allow for steering via thrust variance. Theoretically it could be reasonably maneuverable.

10001010
10001010
8 months ago

Fascinating 0-= _\V/

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
8 months ago

Make it so!

Strangek
Strangek
8 months ago

Maybe, after the sales success of the gen one version, the second gen looks like a TNG shuttle or a DS9 runabout?

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

The aerodynamics of the runabout would be a nightmare. Too many vents and shapes and whatnot. I think that the TNG shuttle would make a better RV than the others.

Cpt. Slow
Cpt. Slow
8 months ago

Every once in a long while, there is an interesting article about RVs on this site. This is one, congratulations! But otherwise, damn, this site is strangely over representing the RV content.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
8 months ago
Reply to  Cpt. Slow

But otherwise, damn, this site is strangely over representing the RV content.

Nope.

Tbird
Tbird
8 months ago

Dammit Jim!

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
8 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

Great license plate!

Bill
Bill
8 months ago

What a coincidence. I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek recently and out of curiosity was searching for vans converted into ST Shuttles earlier today!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago

Looks a bit like the granddaddy of the Cybertruck, except way better, of course. Can we do the “Lost in Space” Chariot next, please? Or the “2001” Moonbus?

Last edited 8 months ago by Canopysaurus
James Davidson
James Davidson
8 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Or the Roamer from Ark II… or maybe the Ark itself. 🙂

Drew
Drew
8 months ago

Okay, get this to market and I might have to daily drive an RV. Probably live in it, too, since I don’t have a house with RV parking. Or the budget to buy and fuel an RV I’m using as my primary vehicle.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

That sounds like a very reasonable course of action. I am sure that if I told my wife that I sold the house and cars to buy an amphibious RV based off of Star Trek TOS, that she would wholeheartedly agree that it was the best course of action and that she would remain married to me.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
8 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Clearly your wife differs from mine…

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
8 months ago

Beats the Dustbuster minivan with shuttlecraft decals that I remember seeing in the parking lot of the Chicago Auto Show 20 years ago.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago

It may beat that, but I think there is even more of a market for a minivan version of this than an RV. Get your landing party together and show up to conventions (or Ren Faires, if you want to violate the Prime Directive) in style.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

KOTH Dale Gribble:(dressed in a “Star Trek” uniform): “It says right here, “One dollar discount with period costume.” Well, I’m from the future, and the future is a period, ergo, this is a period costume! Period!”

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