This Baffling Airplane RV Was Built By An Escaped Convict

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Photo: Craigslist (Other)

One of the weirdest things you can do to a car is bolt the fuselage of a plane to it. (I am always saying this.—ED) This 1979 Fleetwood Pace Arrow motorhome for sale on Craigslist wears the body of a Convair CV-240, but that’s only the beginning. It was also built in-part by a fugitive on the run.

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A reader originally sent me the ad for this thing about a month ago. Back then, the ad only had three small pictures and not a whole lot of information. I asked the seller for more details, but they deleted the ad hours later. Now, it’s back, reposted with more information and glorious pictures. Buckle up because this flight may get a little turbulent.

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Photo: Craigslist (Other)

The ad says that it’s called Andromeda and it has quite the origin story. According to the Santa Barbara Independent, the Andromeda was built in the 1980s in Isla Vista, California, by friends Tony Tosta and Jason Von Straussenburg. The Andromeda name comes from the Ethiopian princess of Greek mythology, which is fitting for a project like this.

The Independent article also mentions that Straussenberg had a secret. The name Straussenberg was merely one of four pseudonyms and his real name is Roger Lee Crona.

Why did Crona have a made-up name? In 1972 he went to prison in Michigan for forging license plates and registrations. He then escaped the prison in the same year by simply walking off of the property. He made his way to California with a new identity.

At some point, he and Tony started with a retired Convair CV-240, removed its undercarriage, bolted it up to an unnamed heavy duty truck chassis and filled it up with parts from a 1979 Fleetwood Pace Arrow RV.

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Photo: Craigslist (Other)

It’s noted as having an International diesel engine, but it’s not said which. It’s also registered as the Pace Arrow that donated its guts for the project. But the madness of this build didn’t just stop at combining three vehicles into one.

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The front of the RV features an intact flight deck and yep, it can be driven from both sides.

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Photo: Craigslist (Other)
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The RV appears to have its acceleration and braking tied to the pedals that would normally operate the aircraft’s rudder. It’s unclear what indicators and gauges still work, if any, but it would be cool if some of the original instruments were adapted to the plane’s road-based new life.

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Aft of the cockpit are bunk beds and an open area with a big sound system. But this is more than a small space to break out your best dance moves.

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Hidden under the floor is a hot tub! This rock star RV is built to party.

According to Santa Barbara Independent, Crona and Tosta actually filled the hot tub using a fire hydrant.

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If you’re wondering how well a filled hot tub does on the road, it doesn’t, from Santa Barbara Independent:

“We stepped on the brakes, and an eight-inch tsunami flowed over,” Tony laughed.

Continue walking back from the hot tub and you’ll see a full RV kitchen, complete with oven, microwave and a fancy dining area.

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The rig wraps up with a bathroom and an epic berth hanging off of the back. The person sleeping in this area gets a roof that opens up so they can sleep under the stars.

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Illustration for article titled This Baffling Airplane RV Was Built By An Escaped Convict
Photo: Craigslist (Other)

Crona and Tosta remained great friends over the years, enjoying shenanigans involving the Andromeda. According to Santa Barbara Independent, Toad the Wet Sprocket used the RV as a relaxation space in the 1990s when they played in Santa Barbara.

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Unfortunately, the fun didn’t last forever as Crona was found and arrested in the summer of 2008. He was released in December, but his health was failing and he died in 2009, reports Daily Nexus.

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This is where I’d normally say that there aren’t any other vehicles like this, but the Andromeda was actually one of four aircraft-based ground vehicles in California built at around the same time. Another was the Douglas DC-3 turned into a kitchen dressed up like a Space Shuttle.

The Andromeda has fallen into a sad state in recent years. Its exterior is looking a little worse for wear and while the interior is a great time capsule it’s rough in places.

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That hasn’t stopped it from showing up in auctions for $180,000 and now for the much lower price of $27,995 on Craigslist. Each time it comes up for sale it’s in a little worse condition. The seller says that it’ll do 65 mph on the highway and has everything you need to camp off of the grid, but it’s unknown just how much work it’ll take to get it there. I don’t care, I’d daily drive this thing!

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H/T - Mark and Opposite-Lock!

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

DISCUSSION

smalleyxb122
smalleyxb122

“I need to lay low for a while, do you have any surplus airplanes I can mount to a truck chassis?”

I suppose it’s easy to get cocky when your daring prison escape consists of “walk out of prison”... and it worked.