While I was writing this article, strong Santa Ana winds had caused...
Minivan. Most of us cringe at the term, since it often indicates an emasculated beige 4-cylinder vehicle filled with sippy cups, crushed Cheerios, and screaming children. That, or a psychedelic '70s ride with shag carpet and a sweet dragon mural. Fortunately, there's still hope for the minivan, and OPTIMA Batteries proved it with the burly Ford Econoline van parked in their booth at SEMA 2015.
That's right, this is no ordinary family hauler. This rugged van was built by MG Metalworks in conjunction with OPTIMA Batteries, and it's based on a 2013 Ford Econoline Super Duty. The 4-wheel-drive V8-powered van rides on a lifted suspension and large all-terrain tires, and its armored bumpers and winch show it means business. We could probably do without the flashy glowing headlight halos, but HID projectors and LED light bars provide plenty of visibility at night.
Out back, you'll find another armored bumper, more LED lights, a spare wheel, a toolbox full of Snap-On tools, and a dual bike rack. On this bike rack are two Motoped Survival motorized bikes outfitted with off-road shocks, knobbly tires, and jerry cans full of spare fuel. In fact, these bikes are worthy of their own feature article, so keep an eye out for that in the future. The Motoped bikes are perfect for a vehicle like this, since they allow for quick supply runs and errands while the van is parked.
As interested as we were in this van's exterior, we really wanted to get a peek inside. The Econoline's interior was custom-built by MG Metalworks, and includes a fridge, microwave, stove, coffee maker, sink, and a power inverter with several outlets for other electronics. There's even a pop-up roof so you can walk around inside the van comfortably.
OPTIMA themselves originally stated that the van's official purpose isn't a bug-out vehicle: “The rig will essentially be converted into a “4×4 Limited” mobile office, paddock and off-grid video capturing headquarters. The van will not be a bug-out vehicle, but it will have the capability of going just about anywhere and staying there in comfort.” However, with everything we see here, we'd say this would make an excellent bug-out rig. Either way, it's one mean minivan, and it was one of our favorite vehicles at the SEMA 2015 show.