This past weekend I had the opportunity to do what few others get a chance to. I drove a 45 foot, completely optioned out, half-million dollar motor coach. I left Friday morning and made a 650 mile run down to Concord, NC to Tom Johnsons Camping Center. Now, this was no little car lot, but a facility that deals in some of the finest luxury motor coaches in the industry. Rigs ranging from $30,000 to well over a million. It’s also located right at the entrance to the ZMax Dragway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. This will be a multi-part segment as there is just too much to write about in one post.
When we first viewed the coach I must say I was a bit overwhelmed. At 45 feet long it’s the size of a Grey Hound bus, has one heck of a footprint, and lets everyone know you are now King Schwing of the parking lot. The lines are crafted just as those of a fine automobile and no detail is left untouched. The bus, odd as it may seem, actually had a sporty feel to it.
I knew these things were supposed to be nice, but upon entering I was blown away by what I saw. Marble floors, corian counter tops, beautiful crown molding… seriously, this sucker was nicer than most NYC apartments. It also packs a lot of space in the way of around 800 sq. ft. This thing truly was a home away from home. Here is a quick breakdown of the luxury amenities: two flat panel TVs – a 52″ and a 34″, two leather couches, full-size double door refrigerator, heated floors, two-burner gas stove, kitchen sink, stacker washer/dryer, king size bed, full bath with marble tiled shower, 3 separate air conditioning units, fully integrated security system with 6 cameras, full power sunshades, 4 expandable sides that virtually double the interior space, a gas BBQ outlet to hook up a grill, air compressor, adjustable air suspension… and when I tell you the rest of the features would double the above, I wouldn’t be lying.
Now it was time for a quick road test. We fired up the generator, hit the starter and cranked the behemoth to life. The sales rep then eased it out of its parking space utilizing all six cameras, then put it in drive and hit the gas. With something this big there really is no drama as it weighs in at around 44,000 lbs. A 600 HP Cummings diesel provides propulsion and with a nice press of the throttle we were off. Looking out the big flat panel windshield provided one hell of a view. I mean you can see everything. We cruised on the interstate for awhile and just relaxed as the coach chewed up some miles.
After a quick drive I was motioned into the drivers seat. I have driven just about every type of car out there, from the greenest of the green to some crazy exotics, but I have never, ever driven anything this big before. Oddly enough though, you don’t need a special license to pilot these. This concerned me as the thought of an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of one of these seemed like a death sentence for other motorists. They continued to try and get me behind the wheel until I finally conceded. “Ok then”, I said… welcome to MR. ANGRY’s Big Bus of Death. Getting behind the wheel was daunting and an experience that I will not soon forget.
Once underway though everything changed. The bus, as big as it was, really wasn’t too hard to drive, in fact it was quite easy. Acceleration was nice and smooth as was the stability. There are some things to keep in mind though. First and foremost is that aside from the occasional tractor trailer, you ARE the biggest thing on the road. This means factoring in a little pre-planning before you do things. Check and double check your mirrors when changing lanes, give yourself 7-10 car lengths of room and always, ALWAYS make sure you are aware of the other vehicles that are around you. No joke, I could knock a Hyundai off the road with this sucker and would never even know it.
Driving the coach was an amazing experience and one that will most likely be repeated in the upcoming months as we have some big plans for this thing. So, with that being said, just keep an eye out as I’ll be getting much more detailed about this baby in future posts.