Motorhome World’s one-of-a-kind luxury globetrotter
Story & pictures Andrew Middleton
When it comes to overland exploration, there are several ways to go about it. You can go the lightweight route with a bakkie and a tent, you could tow an equipped off-road trailer, or you could opt to travel in your home-on-wheels. The Dreamcatcher is very much the latter option.
Built to endure extended touring periods in the Siberian and Russian winter, where temperatures routinely drop below minus 40 degrees Celsius, this lavishly-equipped motorhome is the ultimate ‘money is no object’ expression of luxury overlanding. The beast can comfortably sleep four absolutely anywhere on earth.
The owners who commissioned this build are very well travelled but are yet to include Siberia and Russia in their travel log. Exploring these territories during winter is going to be a huge challenge, though Dreamcatcher has been designed expressly to do the job.
Motorhome World’s factory in Atlantis Industria took on this custom build after a thorough investigation of Russian exploration vehicles and, specifically, research on the effects of extremely cold temperatures on mechanical components and how to insulate against those sorts of conditions.
The construction process, taking just over eight months, was an exercise in experimenting with new technologies – including developing a twin-voltage electrical system and fitting heating pads on nearly every electrical or mechanical component exposed to the elements.
Choosing Motorhome World to do the build may seem like a strange choice of manufacturer when there are Russian and European companies specialising in similar builds. Simply put, that decision came down to a combination of cost and experience. Having the rig built in Europe would have cost up to three times as much, while Motorhome World has a vast knowledge of custom builds for extreme conditions.
Our view? They have totally pulled it off, creating the most incredible overlanding machine I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience.
Based on the massive Iveco Eurocargo 4×4 chassis, this 10-ton behemoth has a features list longer than most luxury homes. Climb aboard via the electric step and you’ll find all the comforts of home – including a dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer, oven, full-sized fridge, and stand-up shower. Inside and out, the attention to detail is evident from every angle.
To deal with extreme cold, a complex air circulation system keeps warm air moving around the interior at all times via countless vents behind every surface. The reasoning is that when exterior temperatures plummet, condensation forms on any surface where there is stagnant air. This goes for all the cupboards, and even the double mattress rests on pads above its base with hot air piped underneath. A large air conditioner mounted on the roof helps to keep the interior air dry, and is set to a comfy 22 degrees Celsius no matter the weather.
Powering all the appliances and energy-hungry heating systems is a 220V diesel generator mounted in-board and chugging out 2 800W. In addition, a bank of solar panels on the roof deliver up to 640W of 12V power. Interestingly, when the rig is parked up at a caravan park or campsite with power it can receive either 220V or 110V to charge its batteries; a complex but necessary arrangement that makes it possible to charge up almost anywhere in the world.
For freshwater, a hose can be plugged into an inlet valve whenever necessary to fill up a 330-litre freshwater tank. Greywater is held in a separate 70-litre tank that can be flushed at any time using the rather complex water tank management system. Water is heated using a diesel-powered geyser. For the sake of practicality, the stove is also powered by diesel, ensuring the vehicle only uses one fuel which can be purchased almost anywhere.
The problem with diesel is that in extremely cold temperatures it becomes a jelly and won’t flow. To this end, the fuel lines, engine block, and 600-litre diesel tank all have heating pads on them connected to a power supply to keep the fuel flowing. The Dreamcatcher’s three massive deep-cycle batteries also receive heaters for good measure.
One of the first things you may spot at the rear of the vehicle is the two spare tyres mounted high up on a big steel rack. Weighing in at well over 100kg each, changing a tyre solo would be near impossible. The Motorhome World engineers, therefore, designed a rack that hydraulically raises or lowers the tyres and stands them upright, making a tough job possible. The hydraulic lifters may in the future be converted to hold the owner’s BMW motorcycle instead of tyres.
With its four-wheel-drive system and three differential locks, the Dreamcatcher is truly a go-anywhere family home. At a chunk over R3 million, it’s clear luxury and capability of this order doesn’t come cheap, but the expert craftsmanship on this one-of-a-kind vehicle is absolutely incredible. Even better is that it was built right here in sunny South Africa.
IVECO Eurocargo 4×4 chassis
GVM: 15 000kg
Tare (as Motorhome): 10 260kg
Engine capacity: 5 900cc (in-line 6-cyl)
Max power: 176kW @ 2 700rpm
Max torque: 810Nm @ 1 200-2 100rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Diff locks: 3 (Centre, Front, & Rear)
Transfer box ratio: Low 0.79:1/High 1.62:1
Wheels: 9 x 20” rims, 14.00 x R20 single tyres
Min ground clearance: 300mm
Vehicle length: 8 584mm
Vehicle width: 2 654mm
Vehicle height: 3 900mm
Motorhome body internal length: 5 416mm
Motorhome body internal width: 2 364mm
Motorhome body internal height: 2 008mm
Total fuel capacity: 600 litres
Total freshwater capacity: 330 litres
Total greywater capacity: 70 litres
Electrical system: 220V/110V
Inverter system: 3 000W (220V)
Total battery capacity (motorhome): 675Ah
Total solar capacity: 640W (12V)
Diesel generator: 2 800W (220V)
Anti-Condensation Ventilation System (ACS)
Floor-level RGB LED mood lighting
Diesel burning geyser
Diesel burning air heater
Diesel burning two-plate stove
Water pressure reducing adjustable valve
Water tank management valve system
Water tank automatic temperature regulation
Combination clothes washer/dryer
100-litre Stainless steel drawer fridge
100-litre Stainless steel drawer freezer
Bed 1 950mm x 1 500mm
Four-stage water filter
Stainless steel kitchen sink with drip tray & glass cover
Thetford cassette toilet
Separate shower area with duckboard
Stainless steel windscreen protectors
Stainless steel bull bar
16-ton hydraulic winch
Fiamma entry door handle/security lock
LED work lamps in each corner
Electric three-tier folding entry step
Fiamma 4.5-metre automatic awning (no legs)
DC to DC (24V to 12V) converter
Stainless steel roof protector rails
Heating pads for chassis batteries, water, & diesel tanks
Auto temperature control for heating pads
Hydraulic spare wheel drop-and-place upright system (for two full-size spare wheels)