50 years NEOPLAN Skyliner: A yacht for the road
A 46 year old NEOPLAN Skyliner is the basis for an exclusive travel vehicle // Roadyacht with a roof terrace for up to 25 people
The Roadyacht, a superbly converted NEOPLAN Skyliner from the 70s, is one of its kind, simultaneously an old-timer, a modern holiday mobile, a presentation platform, a promotional vehicle, a tour coach, a DJ stage and a dream of freedom.
It must be down to the NEOPLAN Skyliner’s unique charm that it has inspired so many extraordinary conversions in the 50 years since its launch. One of them is the Roadyacht.
From March to October, the Roadyacht and its six sleeping berths can be hired as a holiday home. Stationary, parked in its “home port” about ten kilometres from the eastern shores of Lake Maggiore, holidaymakers in rural surroundings can enjoy an incomparable panoramic view. But Italy is just one of the options. If you want, you can drive the Roadyacht to your dream destination: smart coastal promenades, quiet forest lakes, towering peaks, or perhaps you prefer the pulsating metropolis? Whatever the location, this comfortable motor home demonstrates its advantages as a mobile holiday villa: its fittings and materials fulfil the highest expectations. The panoramic windows of the sleeping lounges offer fantastic views of the day or night sky. Elsewhere there is also plenty of daylight and everything you could wish for: “mess and galley, along with permanently installed toilet and bath between decks. The rooms can be separated by sliding walls or curtains. While stationary and with the rear roof open, the Roadyacht offers up to 25 seats. In traffic it is licensed for eight persons plus the driver. The NEOPLAN Skyliner, lovingly converted and hand crafted over a period of years, is a genuine eye-catcher: “When you’re at an event, such as a roadshow or a corporate celebration, it’s an immediate topic of conversation. Some people assume it came from America and then I can proudly say: ‘Oh no, I built it myself!’” says Günter Erhart, creator of the Roadyacht. Athletes, artists or bands who travel a great deal also find the Roadyacht eminently suitable. Its chill-out qualities make it an excellent retreat and exclusive VIP lounge. The top deck has already been used as a special kind of fair booth, an exclusive meeting room and a DJ cockpit at open-air events. The Roadyacht’s unique roof construction makes all this possible and at the same time ensures a pleasant atmosphere inside the bus.
Even as a boy, Günter Erhart was mad about cars and completed railway vocational training as a motor vehicle mechanic. He learned his craft working on buses, and then became an engine driver. But Erhart’s passion for vehicles remained, so he spent his spare time making old cars and trucks fit for the road. In 1981, in the north of Germany, he came across an eleven-year-old NEOPLAN Skyliner, built in 1971. Erhart had always liked them, he says, “because they were simply more individual than other cars”. The bus was on sale for 3,000 marks, and was in a miserable condition: damaged engine, fittings ripped out, cable harness in shreds, windows broken, alternator and compressor stolen. But the bodywork was impeccable.
Years of intensive renovations followed, right up to 1986. Erhart cut away the top of the body and built up the roof structure himself. He replaced the ruined engine with a Henschel engine. In the early 80s, when a new Skyliner model came on the market, Erhart got the spare parts he needed from NEOPLAN’s stock. Even aside from that, the manufacturer’s experts were ready to advise and assist him, and were even curious about his ideas. When the bus was completed as far as the waistrail, it passed the TÜV inspection. Erhart could now have sold the empty shell of the Skyliner at a profit, but he continued to dream of his Roadyacht. The driving experience on his own test drives thrilled the vehicle fan so much that he determined to keep it. The chassis had already been overhauled as far as humanly possible. This care and the vehicle’s winter sojourns in Italy, protected from salt, certainly explain why the chassis has now been in perfect condition for 30 years.
The Roadyacht is many things. An exclusive luxury liner, a remarkable example of German engineering, a cynosure, a place of encounter. For Günter Erhart, it is the fulfilment of a dream. Just as it is for those who hire it from www.roadyachting.com.