The following is a report by the Huntsville Times on the “ultimate tailgating RV” – Red Bay, Ala.-based Tiffin Motor Home’s new Phaeton coach.
He stands in the forward section of the cabin, and with one flick of a switch begins to beam like a proud papa.
“You’re in a ‘Batman’ movie now,” Jerry Williamson says with a smile.
Actually, we’re in a Phaeton, the best-selling vehicle for Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.
And it’s expanding.
When in motion, on highways across the good ol’ US of A, the width of the main area of the 40-foot RV is 8 feet. When parked, it can extend another 6 feet in a matter of moments.
On fall weekends, on campuses across the Southeast, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable way to take in a football game.
Before, during or after.
It’s like a home on wheels. A “Parade of Homes” kind of home.
Which makes this beast the ultimate tailgating RV.
“There’s always stuff we haven’t thought of,” said Williamson, the company’s director of sales. “We raise that bar every day, every year.”
From the looks of things, it’s already set pretty high.
The Phaeton got its name from president/founder Bob Tiffin, father of Alabama kicking legend Van. The elder Tiffin is a classic car enthusiast, and back in the day – in this case the late 1890s – the Phaeton was the cream of the crop of horseless carriages.
In this $260,000 version, the four horses that powered the original could ride shotgun.
First things first, seeing that it’s a tailgater’s fantasy come to life. There are four flat-screen TVs on or in the vehicle. A 32-incher in the back bedroom, a 32-incher in the dining area, a 32-incher (think miniature drive-in movie) on the outside and a 37-incher in the front overhead above the driver.
There are two optional satellites receivers, meaning four different football games (or perhaps an NL or AL playoff game) can be watched at one time.
Second things second, there’s enough food, drink and accessory space for a Waltons family reunion. A 22-cubic foot residential style refrigerator with a triple-door freezer and icemaker in the bottom has become a mainstay on the Phaeton. There also are 84 drawers, doors and storage areas, the drawers being set in solid wood.
All drawers are built to slide in and all the way out. Shelves are adjustable and can be removed completely.
That helps preserve what’s most valued on any RV.
“The woodwork and the number of drawers we have is really the first impression people get,” Williamson said. “We’re unique in Tiffin has its own mill department, so we build all of our own doors, drawers and cabinetry. Everybody else in the industry is going to be around half (of what we offer).
“Women have a lot to do with the buying process. They see this and they notice the high-end quality. There is so much usable work space, it really does make it the perfect tailgater.”
It doesn’t end there. The tile floor is clean enough to eat that wing you just dropped on it. There’s an extended island counter top for chips, dips and napkins.
In the kitchen, there’s a three-burner gas oven. Above it is a convection microwave.
“You have the ability to bake anything you would in your own kitchen,” Williamson said.
And eat as if you were at your favorite diner, thanks to a four-seat booth. Or, if you want to kick back, try out one of the two ultra leather recliners.
The rotating driver and passenger chairs and a couch – which folds out into a queen bed – offer more comfort if escaping the heat proves necessary.
Inside, the Quiet Air Cooling system with return air has numerous ducts in the ceiling, keeping things quite comfortable on the hottest late summer day.
“That can be important on those early days of the football season,” Williamson said. “Ours is a residential style system. Everything over here is the return air.
“The typical system will have return air (in front) and one in bedroom. It’s trying to pull hot air every 10 feet. We get it every two feet, which makes it feel more like you would at home.”
UV rays are kept to a minimum thanks to the dual shades on every window. Outside, more protection is available with another flick of the switch – and another action-picture moment – bringing an awning over the flat-screen TV.
Below the viewing area, there is pullout storage that can hold multiple canopies.
Talk about having it made in the shade.
“You just hear a lot of oohs and aahs when people see it all,” Williamson said.
Everything, really, has been thought of, dreamed up and considered. There’s a half-bath just past the kitchen for commercial breaks, and a full one in the bedroom suite.
Face painters are in luck, because there is a stand-up shower. If mustard from a hot dog drips on that favorite national championship T-shirt, throw it in the stacked washer and dryer.
A generator powers everything, from the continuous hot water heater to the air conditioning. With its 100-gallon water tank, the Phaeton could be parked in the middle of nowhere and still be fully operational.
“Bob talks to our customers all day long. He has a notepad and is writing down all of these things they’re telling him,” Williamson said. “He wants to make sure when they communicate to us, we do something with it. It doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”
From the looks of things – and there are a lot more things and not enough room to list them – the folks at Tiffin Motor Homes are listening.