The Winter Olympics in Sochi have been full of all kinds of ugly realities. But there's been one deeply ugly unreality there as well; a white behemoth that's been prowling around the Olympics. This colossal, bizarre-looking RV. What the hell is it?
I'm not the only one wondering. That picture up there came from the Twitter feed of none other than Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova:
Maria brings up an excellent point: what's the story behind that ridiculous thing? Well, fortunately for us, this particular ridiculous thing has wheels and an engine, which means it's my job to get to the bottom of this. And bottom I have hit: it's called an eleMMent (that's their spelling, I didn't sneeze while typing) Pallazo, and it's made by Austrian bonkers-shit-crafting firm Marchi Mobile.
Here's what Marchi Mobile says about themselves:
People never fail to notice innovation; but rarely does the excitement for it last. The passion for the new found extraordinary fades, fascinating for only the moment.
That is how it began for us. But now – after many years of development – we sparked a fire in luxury mobility. Marchi Mobile as an automotive brand represents exclusivity and extravagance that requires no explanation.
I'm leaving the weird use of a graphic for the "eleMMent" text so you get an idea of the sort of people we're dealing with here. People who care enough to make a dramatic design statement for visionaries that are "stylistically at ease," which I guess is the Austrian direct translation of "have no taste whatsoever."
The eleMMent Palazzo is, basically, an insanely expensive mobile home. It usually seems to be described as a "land yacht" thanks to its incredible opulence and massive size. Also, possibly, because of how much it resembles some sort of bloated sea creature.
The luxo-RV is based on a truck chassis, the Dutch DAF XF 105, and is powered by a 530 HP 4-valve/cylinder 6-pot turbodiesel. That actually doesn't seem like all that much for the sheer amount of weight and ugly this thing carries around, but Marchi Mobile says it's
truly sportive with more than 500 hp, a unique carbon-fiber rear diffuser and double tube sport exhaust.
... so who am I to argue with how truly sportive it is?
These things come in a variety of formats, from mobile home to VIP shuttle to mobile store, a trailer-ready version, and more. They're all phenomenally expensive, with prices of around $3 million expected, but since they're all built to order, that number could easily be higher.
Marchi Mobile has outfitted a couple of these things and painted them up in Sochi 2014 Olympic livery to attract Russia's famously ostentatious and taste-unburdened billionaire elites, which seems a pretty smart move on their part.
The list of amenities in these things is impressive: 40-inch TVs, two floors, expandable walls, a couch that turns into a bar at the touch of a button, fireplace, rain shower, extendable rooftop deck, kitchen, internet access and probably a tank for your piranhas that you can slowly lower James Bond into once you catch him and explain your whole plan.
The front cab is probably the most striking part of the design, with its completely round primary windshield (and that awesome 3-blade rotary wiper setup) and robotic-catfish-laying-on-the-hood-of-a-Vector look. The design is from German designer Luigi Colani, and while I love weird car designs more than anyone I know, this thing is just overwrought and deeply, deeply ugly.
So, Maria Sharpova, allow me to answer your question: that ridiculous thing is a multi-million dollar RV for wealthy loons who fetishize robotic catfish, want attention — any kind of attention, and can't bear the idea of traveling anywhere without a rainfall shower.
I hope that helps.