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The Bufalino Camper Proves Even a Three-Wheel Piaggio Ape Can Serve as Motorhome
The fundamental principle behind downsizing is that complete freedom can only be achieved when you rid yourself of most possessions, keeping only the bare necessities. The less clutter, the more intense the feeling of freedom.

The Bufalino Camper Proves Even a Three-Wheel Piaggio Ape Can Serve as Motorhome

The Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introvertedThe Bufalino camper, the perfect recreational vehicle for the introverted
Downsizing isn’t for everyone and, it goes without saying, it does not solve all your problems, whatever they might be. In recent years, as a means of opposing consumerism and capitalism, and against the background of heightened environmental awareness, downsizing has become more of a thing. Even so, few would imagine taking it to such extremes as to turn a tiny, utilitarian three-wheel vehicle into a motorhome.

August is Travel Month here on autoevolution, and we’re celebrating it with a virtual party honoring some of the most awesome, original or downright weird means of transportation while on vacation. The Bufalino falls in that last category: the three-wheel tiny motorhome that never was.

Bufalino (meaning “baby bufallo” in Italian, in what we assume is meant as irony) is the creation of German industrial designer Cornelius Comanns. The reason why you never heard of the Bufalino, the tiniest and cutest motorhome to ever exist (*a relative statement), is that it was never brought into production. Introduced in 2010, it only lived in Comanns’ imagination, in renders and a few production mockups. Even so, to this day, you will find it included on many lists for the strangest RVs in the world, accompanied by a variety of expressions of regret at not having been made.

The Bufalino is based on the iconic Piaggio Ape, the Ape 50 model. Introduced in 1949, Piaggio Ape was also known initially as the VespaCar or TriVespa because it was a tiny vehicle just like the Italian scooter, but with utilitarian functionality. In this particular case, Comanns chose it for its fuel efficiency: while the sub-micro van was never particularly fast or sturdy, its 49.8 cc engine was very fuel efficient.

So, Comanns came up with an idea that, he believed, would add freedom to the lone traveler, or maybe even deliver the ultimate experience for the introverted one: he turned the Piaggio Ape into a motorhome. Despite the tiny size, he was able to cram inside it all the bare necessities, including a bed, an office, a kitchenette, a sink, and plenty of storage. Moreover, he covered the walls in plaid and added matching touches, like a light fixture hanging overhead and a matching paintjob, for a touch of sophistication as well. The Brits know this too well: you can make any outfit look just a tad more sophisticated if you throw in plaid.

Not that the Bufalino needed sophistication when it had so much practicality. The interior included two seats, which meant that you could actually bring a passenger along. They would have nowhere to sleep when the seats converted into a bed, but that’s a different story. On the left side, Comanns added a sink (a bucket) with a tiny water tank, a burner, a refrigerator, and storage for all “the kitchen stuff.” He even put in a clothes rack and a nightstand. 

The driver’s seat was replaced with Comanns’ own design. He made it flatter, so as to occupy very little space, and pivoting, allowing the driver to cook while sitting. To the driver’s left side, on the door, he placed a tiny table that could serve as office or dinner table.

Comanns replaced the rear door with one that opened on three sides, so whoever was crammed inside could choose how much air they wanted to get in. He even included drying racks for laundry on the part of the door that opened upwards, in what was a clear sign that he had, indeed, thought of it all. Except for the toilet: he never mentioned that.

“My aim was to give people a better understanding of the country, the surrounding, and the range they have traveled,”
Comanns told DesignBoom at the time. “The traveling vehicle is always with you like some kind of a base camp, while also being used for moving on in an easygoing and spontaneous way.”

With so little possessions and even less living space, he was right about the easygoing part.

While the Bufalino never made it to the real world and will live permanently in our collective imagination, other similar projects do exist in reality. We’ve covered some of them, like the Solo 01 rickshaw home, the Elektro Frosch camper, or the Z-Triton electric tricycle slash boat slash home. What they have in common is that they’re all tiny campers that surprise by their originality and complex functionality, especially in such a constrictive footprint.

 
 
 
 
 

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