I note that Spartan no longer builds the mid-engine chassis that was offered a few years back (2007 - 2009). In fact, Newmar stopped building its mid-engine model, the All Star, in 2009, after only three years in production.
I guess that poor sales is what killed this chassis and Newmar product but I wonder if anyone here has any idea why sales were so poor for this chassis, which offered the opportunity to build truly unique floorplans? In fact the Newmar Allstar 4484 is perhaps the most innovative and unique floorplan ever designed for a motorhome.
I've never seen one and know nothing about the chassis.
But, maybe the mid engine location was difficult (expensive) to service/repair?
And, like Cloud Dancer said, the Edsel comes to mind. Maybe the mid engine was too 'different' for most RVers.
Travel Supreme also used that chassis in their mid-engine toy hauler. I believe it was designed to carry a smart car or a couple of motorcycles. Since cars and bikes are relatively easy to tow/carry, it appears most MOHO owners were not interested in a built in garage.
Leyland made mid-engine single-decker buses for many years. The engine was an in-line 6-cylinder diesel, laid on its side just about midway between the wheels. They started out with the layout in 1949. The concept was also used in diesel railcars.
Their first transverse rear-engine single deckers appeard in 1963, after their first rear-engine double deckers had gone into service.
I've seen a few of the under-floor coaches in Europe, converted to motorhomes, but they were seriously under-powered. The stock motor was a 350 cubic inch that only got about 100 horsepower. The rear engine rigs sometimes had a turbo-charged 680 cubic inch engine with around 350 hp. Even the 40' double-deckers could get about 85mph top speed on the freeway express runs. Wake turbulence was quite a deal!
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Mid engine bus chassis bus chassis have been around for decades. Crown Coach started building then in 1948. First with Hall-Scott gas engines, the Cummings diesels in the mid 50's, then Detroits until the went out of business in 1991. I drove a '49, a '55, and a '75 in bus driving job in the late 70's, we also had Gillig busses with very similar chassis.
With the amount of money one dumps for an RV, it is very hard to get the public to be willing to step out of the mold. Think "Cost of non-conformance". In other words, even though the potential for problems were small, the cost of failure would be huge. People don't take perceived "chances" with that kind of money.
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I think the All Star coach from Newmar was designed with the family in mind. It was a great unit for a growing family with bunk beds and two levels of sleeping quaters in the rear. This demograph of people that would be the target market were hit the hardest in the 2008 economy crash. It's just too high a priced unit for the intended market.
Newmar offered a lot of different floorplans in the mid-engine so it wasn't just for families (although I think that was their most popular mid-engine floorplan http://www.newmarcorp.com/uploads/brochu........ive/2009-2010/2009%20ATME%20Brochure.pdf). At the time, the family model was a bit pricy mostly because there really wasn't anything else in the market (other class A bunkhouses available were mostly low/mid end gassers so were quite a bit cheaper).
IMO, the biggest reason for the failure was the timing; the mid-engine came out right when the economy tanked but I think alot of consumers don't like change - they're used to the layout of DPs and don't really want to consider other options but it was probably also fairly expensive to keep up two quite different lines. That said, it's not really all that unrealistic, if you're spending $200k + on a mh, you have to be fairly confident that it will have decent resale value so it's hard to just jump to something different.
As far as servicing, from the reports I've read, sounds like it's easier to access / service than rear engine DPs.
It is a shame that they abandoned it as IMO, they really did have some very good floorplans (Personally I agree with the OP and really liked their reverse floorplans and thought they were a very good alternative to the tranditional DP layout).
* This post was
edited 02/04/13 05:11am by michelb *