How’s your social distancing and all that crap going? Great, right? Are you at the stage yet where your seclusion and increasingly weird diet has transformed you into a superhuman, capable of achievements never before dreamed possible? I think I may be there, friends. I say this not out of a desperate plea for attention and help, but because I had a vision. A vision of a new kind of truck/SUV. I call it the Flipback.
It’s certainly possible this basic idea has been proposed before, but my painstaking and exhaustive nearly 26-second Google search didn’t show anything close, so I’m going to boldly shove on ahead. If this somehow already exists, great, we all win.
The fundamental concept behind this is really quite simple, and the goal is to finally find a way to combine the utility of a pickup truck with the comfort and enclosed cargo protection of an SUV/crossover/wagon.
Traditionally, there’s been a number of solutions to this problem, the most common of which is the pickup truck camper shell. Camper shells are effective at converting trucks into sort-of SUVs/wagons by enclosing the cargo bed, but they’re a pain to take on and off, and when off they need a lot of room to store, suspended in a garage or on a stand of some kind, or just on the ground, even.
Other solutions like the Chevy Avalanche or Toyota bB OpenDeck only partially address the issue with their folding midgates and seats. The Flipback design can incorporate the folding seats and midgate, but can provide the greater flexibility of the pickup truck camper shell option, without the installation and storage issues.
It’s all explained most easily in a simple animation:
See that? Essentially, a Flipback truck has an integrated camper shell that rotates 180 degrees to form the interior truck bed. Ideally, there would be a mechanism to automatically raise, rotate, and lower the shell/bed unit, but, really, a properly designed shell/bed could be built that could be removed, flipped, and replaced manually, and even sold as an aftermarket truck accessory.
Really, the idea is extraordinarily simple: just shape a camper shell so it can fit in a truck bed as a bedliner, and build it out of materials appropriate to both uses. Yes, the actual shape would need to accommodate wheel wells, but I think there could be ways to design this and still have it be effective, especially if such a system were designed from the start with the vehicle.
If you’re concerned about the windows getting damaged or the lack of refinement and comfort that such a solution would have, I have an idea for that, too, if you’ll forgive the quick sketch:
The shell’s inner ceiling would be made of a pair of panels with insulated, padded, headliner material on one side (maybe some dome/map lights as well?) that could be flipped to the sides, exposing a rugged bedliner side that would protect the windows and side trim of the inside of the shell. A similar panel would be provided for the rear window area, which would now be by the cab of the truck.
Under the two panels would be a ruggedized bedliner surface suitable for the truck bed.
I know my goofy model there shows a VW Vanagon with the Flipback system, but chock that up to my own stupid fetishes and know this could work for, really, any truck or SUV or even wagon design. If it has a cargo area that could work as an open bed or a covered wagon, this could work.
Unibody crossovers could use it in conjunction with fold-flat rear seats and folding midgates to go from family hauler SUV to pickup with ease. Body-on-frame trucks could use it to convert from exposed to enclosed cargo hauling needs, for cargo weather protection, normal camper shell use, passenger carrying options, or, if using a mechanized raised/lower/rotate assembly, could even be employed to keep oversized cargo contained or make a sort of double-decker load area.
That’s just an added bonus for hardcore cargo use, right there.
I’ve also convinced myself that a mechanism like this really wouldn’t have to be any more complex than, say, any modern hardtop convertible system or even the Tesla Model X’s Falcon Doors—in fact, the mechanism should be substantially less complex, as it just needs to raise on one axis, rotate the shell, and return back down. Easy, right?
And, again, even if it is complex, this is the sort of thing that could be sold as a manually installable, flippable camper top-to-bedliner product.
Of course, I’d most love to see a full-implemented, mechanized version catch on, especially on something like a small wagon that could transform in to a Subaru Brat-like vehicle, and then back to a wagon.
Actually, Subaru, are you listening? This could be the next installment of your Brat/Baja legacy, if done right! This should be an option for Jeep Gladiators or the upcoming new Bronco!
Automakers, you know how to get ahold of me. Just please try to be patient, as I expect I’ll be taking many, many calls.
Man, this staying at home bullshit may just pay off, after all. I mean, aside from not spreading the Covid-19 virus. That’s important, too, I guess.