Cologne-based company Orangework has specialised in the upgrading and conversion of all-terrain trucks into self-sufficient residential fortresses for long journeys. We looked at three of the hefty juggernauts in detail, the most spectacular of which is surely the MAN KAT.
With its military roots, the KAT's considerable reputation within the off-road scene precedes it. Rightly so: there are up to four driven axles, which – completely atypical in a truck – are suspended on compression springs. This not only makes the KAT noticeably flexible, but is also very comfortable when off-road. And it's practically unstoppable – there is probably no other wheeled vehicle that exhibits similar assertiveness on the roughest of terrain. The low silhouette is achieved on account of the fact that the engine is positioned behind the driver cabin – in the case of the Orangework KAT, an eight-cylinder Deutz with a 12.7-litre capacity and 355 HP.
The conversion specialists made use of the standard, low cabin construction to house additional sleeping quarters above the driver cabin. At the same time, this creates a relatively fluid transition to the huge rear boot.
Extreme, more extreme, MAN KAT
Orangework converted the 6x6, three-axle monster into a rolling hotel with a complete overhaul. Four beds, a kitchen, bathroom and living room are realised with a tasteful design. Porcelain WC, underfloor heating in the bathroom, walnut floor covering – some German apartments are more sparse.
The modern alternative to the KAT is, again from MAN, the TGM in the 13-tonne version as converted by Orangework. Thanks to all-wheel drive and modern mass production technology, the medium-weight series from MAN is not only very popular in the local government and the construction industry, but mobile home builders are increasingly discovering the all-rounder, available with various driver cabs and engines delivering up to 335 HP for themselves.
Modern luxury in the MAN TGM
The van body, with its GRP sandwich construction, is equipped with an access hatch into the 1.5-size driver's cab. The contact with the chassis is realised by means of an additional four-point bearing, which compensates for the torsion of the frame during off-road use. Those travelling in this 286 HP land yacht with its total length of 8.3 metres do not have to forego comfort. A dishwasher and washing machine provide the desired luxury, even in Timbuktu. The TGM is also self-sufficient: it can carry 600 litres of clean water, while the waste water and sewage tanks each hold 150 litres. The power supply is provided via an 840 W solar system and when the sun isn't shining, a 6 kW generator takes care of this job. A diesel-powered heater provides hot water, while there is also underfloor heating and a heated towel rail in the bathroom.
The cosy rubber flooring and an electrically height-adjustable dining table made from solid oak ensure a homely atmosphere. Almost like home: there are separate bunk beds for the children, while the parents sleep in a double bed to the back beside the wardrobe.
While there is of course not quite so much room in the U 1300L-Unimog, at the end of the day it is more than two metres shorter than the TGM. However, the crew are not left wanting. Of course much of the expensive luxury from the two larger vehicles is missing, but the van body extension is anything but uncomfortable. Here too, a solar system (260 Watts) ensures free recharging of the power while stationary. An combined, independent diesel heater provides heat and hot water. Cork flooring provides a wonderful living environment, maple wood also used alongside laminate panels.
The completely differing conversion concepts in the three Orangework trucks show how individual the scene is on the whole. As with any vehicle modifier, the customer specifies what he/she wants – just like when having a house built. In this industry the sky is the limit - you can easily pay half a million Euros for a holiday home with such high off-road capability. So they are not for everyone – but everyone knows that it costs nothing to dream. In our photo slide show we present the three individualists to you in detail.