autoevolution
 

Sled Zeppelin Is the Mother of All Skoolie Conversions, an Awesome RV and Toy Hauler

When kids dream, they dream of growing up to be like their favorite dolls or superheroes and sometimes like their parents, the more realistic real-life heroes. If school buses could dream, they would fantasize about the Sled Zeppelin.
The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler 13 photos
Photo: Sled USA (Composite)
The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy haulerThe Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler
With the increase in the number of digital nomads, we've seen more – beautiful or downright insane – conversions than we could count even if we wanted to. Thanks to social media, video-sharing platforms, and the goodwill of many people online, anyone with a basic set of tools, a decent budget, and enough time to spare could build their dream mobile home, whether a van, a bus conversion, or anything in between.

But, truly, there was never a bus conversion quite like the Sled Zeppelin.

The Sled Zeppelin is a fully custom rig that's both an incredibly fancy, comfortable motorhome and an awesome toy hauler, so no wonder it's described as the "ultimate" rig you could get your hands on. It's true, we tend to overuse "ultimate" even in casual conversation, just like we overuse "epic," "awesome," or, in our particular field of interest, "bonkers."

The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler
Photo: Sled USA
That doesn't change the fact that the Sled Zeppelin is all these things, and all of them at the same time. With a sleeping capacity for six people and an oversize garage that can carry whatever toys you need on your adventures, it's the perfect outdoor companion, crafted almost from the ground up with exquisite attention to detail.

The Sled Zeppelin started out as a 1990 Blue Bird bus. To be more accurate, it started out with a call snowmobiler Ryan Phillip got from a friend, asking, "Hey, you wanna buy a school bus?" He paid $500 for one that had just 23,000 miles (37,014 km) on the odometer, so he knew he'd get a solid base, even in case he'd have to change a few things here and there.

Those few things ended up being all of the things. Ryan and his friends started working on the Blue Bird, thinking they'd make one of those skoolie conversions they'd use for their rides out in the mountain. Since it doesn't look like they were working by a specific plan, the project snowballed into something else – something that would become, after many 14-hour workdays, the Sled Zeppelin.

The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler
Photo: Sled USA
Because much of the stuff on the bus was either broken down or in need of repairs, Ryan decided to gut it. He removed the windows, and then the frame, and then everything else until he was left with the chassis. That wasn't good either because he imagined building a conversion that would provide enough living space and, just as importantly, enough room for a garage.

He bought an axle extension that would add 10 feet (3 meters) to the bus from a totaled Freightliner, welded everything together, and worked his way up from there.

The Sled Zeppelin ended up having 43 feet (13 meters) in total length, which rendered the 5.9-liter original Cummins engine underpowered. So Ryan added an 88-mm industrial injection turbo water-methyl injection system and a Mad Max-style intercooler that peaks out the front end because he still wanted to keep the school bus front.

The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler
Photo: Sled USA
The body is also unlike anything you might see on a Blue Bird. There's a loft-style bed over the cab, two slide-outs that expand the interior living space, a bedroom at the rear, a full (but wet) bathroom with a rainshower and stone-like tiling, and a sizable lounge and kitchen area in there. As many as six people can sleep or ride in the Sled Zeppelin, including on the sofa in the living room.

Finishes are impressive, as well. You have marble countertops in the kitchen, upgraded flooring, and leather. The passenger seat in the cabin is a particular standout: it's more of an oversize leather armchair and sits on a platform that allows you to have it floating in the middle of the space or retire it snugly against the wall when you need more room to move around.

Other standouts include the fold-down TV set in the bedroom, the professional-grade audio system, AC and heating, and the off-grid capabilities. Sled Zeppelin comes with 600W of solar, battery and inverter, but also a generator and RV-style hookups, so it's ready wherever adventure might take you.

The Sled Zeppelin started out as a '90 Blue Bird bus, is now the "ultimate" toy hauler
Photo: Sled USA
All that said, the highlight of this rig is the garage. It's a 16-foot by 8-foot (4.8 by 2.4-meter) space, heated and prepared for all your machines and gear. It has everything from a power ramp to hooks, racks, and shelves, fold-down benches and work benches, a drying rack, and a 100-gallon/378.5-liter fuel cell between the wheel wells, so you can fill up in between outings.

The Sled Zeppelin comes with two 80-gallon/303-liter diesel tanks, a 100-gallon/378.5-liter freshwater tank, and separate tanks for gray and black water (90 gallons/341 liters and 45 gallons/170 liters, respectively). Even though the project was completed some three years ago, the odometer reads only 29,000 miles (46,700 km).

As of earlier this year, the Sled Zeppelin is on the market, looking for a new owner with $100,000 to spare.

But admiring from a distance is free of charge, trust us.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
Full profile

 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories