FOR THE FAMILY
You can have fun with the sports car or perhaps the limo. But with a whole family to move, the rich and famous are turning to the luxury van.
In 2011, reigning pop princess Beyoncé famously swapped her luxury Maybach limousine for something a bit roomier – a super deluxe luxury van. She was, after all, a new parent at the time, which may explain the extra US$1 million (HK$7.76 million) that was put into customising the van and making it family friendly – Beyoncé style. The added accessories included a full bathroom, with shower, sink and toilet, as well as hand-stitched leather and super comfy amenities. Her husband Jay-z, of hip-hop fame, also had some input, with US$150,000 going to an inbuilt audio-visual system. When it comes down to it, when you want to
cruise in total comfort, it’s hard to find a limousine that will match a van, at least in terms of size. And we all know that when it comes to families, size matters.
There’s been no shortage of interest in such vehicles and as a result, specialty firms have even sprung up to help modify large vans and turn them into travelling caravans of luxe. Among the firms in the market are Brabus and Klassen, both based in Germany and specialising in Mercedes-benz vans, and newer UK company Senzati. Buyers tend to hail from extremely wealthy families (possibly with security concerns), royal families and the entertainment industry. Designs can allow for family and friends to get in and out of the vehicle without having to “crawl” over each other. Projects can range from a simple luxury version of a standard van model, all the way up to custom flooring made to resemble that of a superyacht. Indeed, Brabus also does interiors for private jets. For its part, Klassen, which has been in business for 15 years, offers an online configurator that lets buyers start to think about the look and feel of their customised van. Interiors can be bright and airy, or dark and have the feeling of a nightclub lounge. Rear and forward view cameras can be installed, with the feeds going back to the main passenger area, adding some extra security. Toyota offers a specially designed cystem, which lets a driver push a button, engaging a microphone that lets the driver be easily heard by the kids in the back. So there’s no more need for yelling into the backseat over the noise. Extra armour can be added as well, in case you worry about safety. Larger luxury vans can even have a special door added, with room for a host or hostess to provide a kind of “in-drive” service. Among the more popular models is the Mercedes-benz V-class (formerly Viano), which seems to be a common starting point for firms that specialise in conversions and customisation. Entering into the market is the Land Rover Range Rover, which offers an extended wheelbase for added seating and legroom. Once new family members come into the picture, buyers may find themselves wanting a curious combination of luxury, amenity and flexibility in one vehicle. The customised luxury van may be the way to get kids to school and mum and dad to work.