If you’re like me, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist looking at vehicles you could buy only if you sold your first-born or a nonessential organ. Occasionally you may just run into something weird. Maybe the find is a mystery Isuzu with a 4.8kW engine or some outrageously expensive exotic that nobody should ever think about buying or selling on Facebook. This is one of those weird things.
I love myself a large vehicle. I’m so familiar with them that the idea of towing my parents’ 12.19 m travel trailer sounds absolutely exciting. I sometimes commute in a school bus just for the fun of it (please stop calling the cops on me) and I have more than once tried to buy a shorty International flatbed to use as a pickup truck. But sometimes even I find a big vehicle that just stops me in my tracks. This 1996 Mauck MSV 1120s is one of them.
The MSV 1120s is… a vehicle. It’s hard to classify exactly what this thing is. It’s part bus, part RV, part limo. I suppose you could say that if you were willing to hand $US200,000 ($283,020) to Mauck Special Vehicles in the mid-90s, they’d make an MSV 1120s anything you wanted it to be.
The vehicles are constructed by hand, combining fibreglass panels with a bespoke steel frame. Later examples saw improvements like the frame materials being upgraded to stainless steel, and the company even attempted to make a more proper commercial bus version. The Mauck name comes from the vehicle’s creator, Andy Mauck. Custom Coach Corporation, based in Columbus, Ohio, constructed the 1120s using parts from various manufacturers. Headlights came from the Ford Aeromax commercial truck, the taillights are aftermarket units for a first-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee, fog lights come from a Dodge Viper, the wipers are Toyota-built, etc. When spec’d with a gas engine you even get this neat GM gauge cluster!
Your flavours of engine for the 1120s were a GM 454 Vortec V8 or a Cummins 5.9 diesel straight six. The Vortec came married to a 4-speed 4L80E automatic with overdrive, and the Cummins bolted up to an Allison transmission driving the rear wheels. If you cared at all about fuel economy, the Cummins would have been the choice, but at least the owner of one example crammed a supercharged 8.1-litre crate engine in back.
I’m trying to imagine a massive RV with a supercharged V8 and the thought is hilarious. I wonder what the 0-60 time of the beast is. Most vehicles of this size gently propel you forward, this likely kicks like a horse!
That particular example saw an astonishing $US800,000 ($1,132,080) overhaul that appears to have brought it into the modern day. And if you’re curious about what an $US800,000 ($1,132,080) overhaul looks like on the outside, check it out:
And no, those doors weren’t added on during the overhaul. All MSV 1120s examples have these doors. Thankfully, the black MSV1120s in this ad is a whole lot less than the price tag of the silver example above.
If you’re thinking there can’t be too many of these on the road, you’re correct. Mauck produced 100 examples over a four year run. Most Maucks are built into luxury limos and RVs for the likes of boxer George Foreman and NFL commentator John Madden. One of these machines even appeared in the movie Bicentennial Man as a delivery vehicle.
The MSV 1120s for sale here doesn’t have a celeb connection, but it’s still wild. It appears to have been used as a party bus and features a bar and a sink.
The ad does claim that is has a super rare hidden tag axle, but from what I can tell, at least 68 examples had them. It would appear not having the tag axle is actually the more rare option. When in operation, the tag axle drops down and provides additional load support for the vehicle, saving wear on suspension components. Such axles also provide better highway stability, especially in windy conditions.
You can get all this vehicle and turn it into whatever you want for $US27,000 ($38,208). That’s steep depreciation for a machine that the original owner paid over $US200,000 ($283,020) for just over two decades ago.
Mauck’s latest designs are less ambitious luxury custom coaches for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cutaway-chassis vans dubbed Mauck 2. They retain some of the MSV 1120’s quirky exterior design, but leave behind trick features like the butterfly doors. Here’s an example:
Personally? I would definitely have a MSV 1120s in my fleet. I’m a big fan of vehicle designs that stand out rather than blending in. You could tow your car out to the track and sleep in something that looks futuristic even today.