Home » Someone Turned A Former Rental RV Into A 4×4 Off-Road Beast Of A Camper

Someone Turned A Former Rental RV Into A 4×4 Off-Road Beast Of A Camper

4x4 Beast Thor Camper Ts
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Overlanders and off-road RVs have been a hot segment in recent years. Why plant your stakes down at a KOA when you can park your rig somewhere deep into the wilderness. Sadly, camper vans are crazy expensive, especially if you’re expecting to take it off-road. Here’s one that’s expensive, but far cheaper than buying new. This 2010 Thor Majestic 19G started life as a rental RV for Cruise America, now it’s a budget 4×4 camping monster. And oh yeah, you can bring it home.

Many of our readers have expressed concern with the prices of RVs nowadays, and for good reason. The few truly affordable RVs out there tend to fall apart quickly and even ones that cost about the price of a luxury car still suck. Tack the word “off-road” or “overland” onto one of these RVs and the price tag will climb even higher.

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One way to beat these high prices is by going used, but you can run the risk of buying a leaky dud. One option is buying an RV after a rental company like Cruise America is done with it. Cruise America claims to refurbish its motorhomes before selling them. This starts with making sure the powertrain is up to spec as well as fixing anything broken in the interior. The rental company also claims to check, repair, and reseal the exterior so your used coach is about as close to new as it could be. In theory, this should be the best of both worlds; a cheaper camper that, hopefully, doesn’t immediately become a headache.

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Facebook Seller

Some people feel as if expedition RVs are far too large for navigating tight trails. Indeed, these trucks often get so huge that not only do you have to worry about making turns, but also if you’re going to clip the trees above.

However, smaller off-road RVs tend to be outrageously expensive. So, you could split the difference by building your own. An earlier version of this story confused this camper with another build, so this is something that multiple people have done as an alternative to the huge and hugely expensive expedition RVs.

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The Motorhome

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Facebook Seller

Cruise America is one of those brands that you’ve almost certainly seen before. The company claims to hold 52 percent of the RV rental market, so it’s pretty much everywhere.

Something interesting about the history of Cruise America is that the inspiration for the business came from Hertz. As the brand writes, Robert A. Smalley Sr., a man whose family had been involved in the car rental business since the 1920s, was Vice President and General Manager of Hertz. His family ran Couture Rent A Car, which from its founding in 1925 to 1957, had grown to a large operation spread as far as Cuba. Cruise America says Couture Rent A Car was opened to serve the snowbirds going south into Florida for the winter without their cars. Hertz bought the firm in 1957, placing the Smalley family in management roles.

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Cruise America

In 1968, Hertz decided to jump into the lucrative RV rental business. The experiment was successful, but Hertz canceled the project to stay focused on renting cars. Smalley Sr. liked the idea and kept it in mind as he rose through the ranks of Hertz to become President and CEO.

Smalley Sr. left Hertz in 1971 to look for a new venture. In 1972, Smalley Sr. gathered up his sons and started another family business. The Smalleys remained in the rental industry, but this time it would be in the RV space, just like Hertz tried a few years before. American Land Cruisers was incorporated in Miami and over time, it became not just a large rental outfit, but Winnebago’s fourth-largest dealership in America. The company went public in 1984 and in 1985, Cruise America was born as ALC’s division specifically for rentals.

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Cruise America

Something fascinating about Cruise America is that like U-Haul’s 1980s efforts to rent out travel trailers, the company doesn’t just rent off-the-shelf RVs. Instead, Cruise America’s RVs are custom-ordered from RV manufacturers. Cruise America’s partners include Lance Camper and Thor Industries. Now, the U-Haul comparison isn’t that perfect because while U-Haul built its own trailers, Cruise America takes existing designs and has them modified for rental use.

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In this case, this Class C motorhome started life as a Thor Majestic 19G. In this coach’s previous life, it was a rental. When it reached the end of its service life with Cruise America, the rental decals were peeled off and Thor’s Majestic logos were slapped on. Now, you can’t really tell it used to be a rental.

The Build

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Facebook Seller

According to the seller the underlying van is a 2010 Ford E-350. Thor Industries made the body and it’s rumored that most Thor Majestic RVs out there were former Cruise America rentals. Power comes from a 5.4-liter Triton V8 making 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. It’s backed by a rebuilt automatic transmission with about 800 miles on it.

Also, at just 21 feet long, about the same length as a camper van, the Majestic does fit into parking spaces. However, a Class C offers a lot more space to stretch out than a normal van does.

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Facebook Seller

The biggest change happened underneath. This motorhome has a UJoint Offroad E-Series 4×4 Conversion kit. In terms of gear, you’re getting a Dana 60 front axle with 4.56 gears, and more. Here’s a clipping from the listing:

New 35” TOYO MT Tires, New Raceline wheels, new Bilstein shocks. Dana 60 front axle with 4/56 gears. All ford parts. New brakes, New front winch bumper with 13,000lb X-Bull winch and off-road lights. Dual 300W overhead LED light bar array. Rear adventure cargo rack with locking cargo boxes, recovery boards, fuel cans and recovery gear. Additional space for bikes, surfboards, kayaks, etc. 204,000 miles, (10-11 MPG) Vehicle measures L-21’ W-7’8” H-11’. 

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Facebook Seller

Roof resealed. 800 miles on rebuilt transmission. Runs excellent, Everything works. Full kitchen and bathroom with a furnace, air conditioning, Onan generator, Microwave, Refrigerator, hot water heater, TV and back up camera. Solar panel. The coach has a large over cab bed and smaller dinette bed.

The rest of the bits outside are largely cosmetic, including a custom bumper, off-road lighting, brush guard, and cage on the rear containing the spare tire.

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Facebook Seller

 

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Facebook Seller

The interior appears to be largely stock, which is fine because while the coaches often didn’t come with slides or awnings, they were fully equipped for camping duty.

When I first saw this motorhome, I had no idea that it started life as a Cruise America rental. The rather comprehensive list of changes helps the RV distance itself from those rental days. And the amazing part is that we still haven’t even gotten to factory equipment like holding tanks.

A Fun Getaway

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Facebook Seller

This Majestic is a fully-equipped motorhome with some respectable equipment. There’s a 20-gallon fresh water tank onboard plus 17 gallons for your kitchen and shower and 16 gallons for toilet waste. In addition to a full galley and a wet bath, you get enough sleeping surfaces for up to four people. You get 200Ah of battery power between the starting battery and the house battery and it’s noted that the house battery can be used to start the engine.

In terms of off-grid capability, you should have enough resources at least for a nice weekend getaway. In the event you run out of juice, a 4,000 kW Onan gas generator fires up. So, it sounds like you can have a good time in this RV. The seller even reports 10 mpg to 11 mpg fuel economy, which is decent for a lifted V8 gasser.

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Facebook Seller

The seller, located in Encinitas, California, is looking for $57,500 for this motorhome. That’s not inexpensive in terms of cash, but it’s far cheaper than the majority of new off-road camper vans out there. Even though this 2010 Thor Majestic 19G has 204,000 miles, it looks like an RV that lives up to its name.

I love to see things like this. I bet the motorhome was fine as it was when it was sold by Cruise America. Now, it’s something different, and I bet it’s a great rig. If anything, this build is a good example of what you can do when you use an existing motorhome as a blank slate.

[Correction: The original version of this story confused this motorhome with a similar but different and newer Cruise America 4×4 conversion. This RV is not that one, but a cheaper conversion. I regret the error and issued a correction.]

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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
26 days ago

Why plant your stakes down at a KOA when you can park your rig somewhere deep into the wilderness.

Because no matter how remote you go some hippie has already shat in that hot spring.

Bucko
Bucko
26 days ago

I’m personally not a fan of U-Joint leaf-spring conversions. If you are into maximum articulation, I guess it makes sense. I also question using a budget RV as the base for something that goes off-road. It would likely shake/twist itself apart in short order.

Sign me up for a 4×4 ambulance conversion instead.

Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
24 days ago
Reply to  Bucko

You could turn it in to an ambulance if you cut the front cab overhang off and put some expensive hoses in the back. Just saying.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
27 days ago

The concept is cool but I would worry about the stick built RV body falling apart off road.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
27 days ago

That is a very good price for what it is.

Kris Rees
Kris Rees
27 days ago

It’s confusing that the Facebook ad and this article only show pictures of what I guess is the pre-renovation interior, whereas the thread on Expedition Portal shows the “subway tile” in the kitchen and etc.

Kris Rees
Kris Rees
27 days ago
Reply to  Kris Rees

They’re also asking a whole lot more than $57.5, and the FB ad says 2010, while the forum says 2018. I’m not sure the Facebook ad and the vehicle that is the focus of the article are actually the same thing.

Kris Rees
Kris Rees
26 days ago

I really appreciate this response! I’m mostly just a lurker here, but it’s this kind of integrity and willingness to reflect (and engage with people in the comments politely and constructively) that keeps me coming back here, and which is such a refreshing change of pace from…some other site we all know and used to love. Thank you.

Black Peter
Black Peter
27 days ago
Reply to  Kris Rees

Yeah something is off, the “real” photos on the Expedition sale thread are obviously the update. In fact I looked at the Facebook ad and thought, “umm that’s kinda awful/old/grubby”.
Atl-atl seems to be located in Phoenix, I’m calling the FB ad a scam. For sale at $105,000 or best offer”

Black Peter
Black Peter
24 days ago

Given the reams of near flawless copy you have produced you’re allowed more than a few facepalms. The two builds are remarkably similar, I thought the FB ad had taken “mid build” photos and were presenting them as the sale item.

VanGuy
VanGuy
27 days ago

I’m not really into RVs, but I do want to add that that lift makes it look like one of those rare E-550’s.

Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
27 days ago

4.56’s…. yikes.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Daisuke

My thoughts exactly. Great for off road, but getting there? Oof, even with a 6-speed auto.

Always broke
Always broke
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Daisuke

With a 35″ tire you’re probably around 2k rpm at 60 which is about as fast as I would want to go in this anyway.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
27 days ago

Feel like doing any offroading at all will promptly smoke that auto box

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
27 days ago
Reply to  Rabob Rabob

Well, yeah, it’s a Ford after all, so that’s to be expected! ヽ(͡◕ ͜ʖ ͡◕)ノ

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