With a reputation in the classic car restoration business, it’s no surprise that the first motorhome from Ashcroft Panel is striking, with attention to detail and quality
- Ultra-modern with apartment-style feel
- Two slide-outs allow for extra living space
- Sleeps five
- Excellent fit and finish
The family business – Ashcroft Panel in Ngunguru, Northland – is world-famous for its restoration work on classic cars. Mike Ashcroft’s high-end panel-and-paint experience prompted him to take an 11-year-old used-import Mitsubishi Rosa school bus and transform it into an ultra modern mobile home. The roof has been raised, there are two slide-outs, and a gorgeous interior inspired by luxury yachts.
With the exception of a few off-the-shelf components, everything inside and out has been designed and built by Mike. The Rosa was five years in the making.
What you see is what you get
Mike didn't want any plastic panels bolted onto the outside, and no lumps of plastic or MDF on the inside. "I wanted it to look as much like it had come out of the Mitsubishi factory as possible," he says. Mike purchased the 1999 Rosa in 2005 set to work, on and off. The roof was done first – raised 300mm. Extra metal was added into the mid-riff of the bus and the side windows were lifted up.
One of the most significant technical achievements is the rear slide-out section. While the side-slider is based around off-the-shelf hardware, the rear is completely designed and engineered by Mike.
"The rear pop-out we worked on for a long time," he says. "I don't think anybody else has got anything like that. It's totally internal – there are no external rams or mechanism, like there are on the side unit. The exterior panels are all-aluminium and it's all rounded. And that's a lot harder than just folding a straight line."
The cabin architecture has been designed with precision – with both sliders closed there's virtually no space to spare.
With the slide-outs open, it all pays off. There's an apartment-style feel, with generous living areas and a spacious feel that belies the vehicle's compact exterior. The decor is neutral and very slick.
It's a five-berth, with a double bed in back, a cafe-style dining area that converts into another and a novel drop-down single mattress that sits above the driver and front passenger's seat.
"Well, pretty much everything," laughs Mike. "The shower was a big issue, because legally you need 350mm of clear space to walk around it. So we had to engineer it with that in mind. Stuff like seatbelts is difficult. And how to make all the doors work.
"Some of the biggest challenges are things that you can't see. Trying to work everything out under the floor was a mission – the toilet, gas bottles and the like. We've designed everything with minimal tolerances to make the most of the space available."
Into the market
Where to from here? Mike intends to keep this first effort as a rolling demonstrator and probably a base for some family holidays. But having done all the hard work, he's ready and willing to produce similar vehicles for the motorhome market.
Assuming he sticks with a Mitsubishi Rosa bus or something structurally very similar, he reckons he could build another in four-to-six months.
See a range of Mitsubishi Rosa for sale.
Base vehicle Mitsubishi Rosa 7m
Engine 5.2L diesel
Power 110kW @ 3500rpm
Torque 470Nm @ 1800rpm
External length 7000mm/8500mm with rear slide-out extended
External width 2070mm/2920mm with side slide-out extended
Stove Spinflo four-burner,grill and oven gas
Fridge (Waeco) 108L
Solar 2x 160 watt panels
Batteries 2x house and 2x bus batteries
Lighting Cantalupi Italian down lighting LED
Gas 2x 9KG
Toilet Dometic Vacflush 4800 with vacuum generator
Fresh water 160LT
Grey water 160LT
Sleeping Sleeps two in rear Queen bed, two in side pop out and one in electric bed drop down bed above front seats