Tempo Traveller Vanity Van. Photos are below the text.
Bob did this vanity van project for his friend and film actor Mukesh Khanna, who was at the peak of his career in the mid-90s. Mukesh wanted a van that he could use for his outdoor shoots and his brief to Bob was that it should have a comfortable bathroom with shower; a sofa cum bed and also a captain’s chair; a wardrobe and cabinet to store crockery and cutlery; a fridge and oven to reheat homemade food; a TV and audio system; intercom to speak with driver, etc.
As this was one of the first vanity vans to be built in India, it was hard to get any of the equipment locally so most of it was specially imported. Bob not only did what all Mukesh wanted, but he also fitted an awning and created external storage to carry a couple of chairs, a table, carpet, picnic box and so on, to enable Mukesh to also sit comfortably outdoors, whenever he was on a shoot.
The couple of things Bob is really proud about are the efficient space utilization in the interior and its practicality. The balance between function and form was also achieved as the entire interior looked elegant and classy. Sadly most of the interior photographs showing the tasteful woodwork, wall paneling, sofa, captain’s seat, and so on, have been misplaced. But the popular home design magazine House Layouts featured this vanity van, and you can click on the link below to see some of the interior.
One of the highlights for Bob is the use of roof mounted solar panels to charge the on board batteries. Remember this was in the 90s when use of solar panels in vehicles was very rare. But Bob mounted two solar panels on the roof and connected them to the two batteries via a complex electrical system that included many relays and circuit breakers.
It took a lot of experimentation to get this system to work efficiently and eventually the two onboard batteries could be charged by either the large capacity alternator fitted to the engine, the two solar panels and even from an external power outlet when the vehicle was stationary.
This vanity van became very popular and started the trend of our film actors getting one for their personal use. Ironically, this is the only vanity van designed and built by Bob, because soon after finishing it, he shut his small customizing venture and took to full time editing of auto magazines.