The best surf vehicles money can’t buy

There are surf vehicles, and then there are one-of-a-kind surf vehicles. Unique, prototypes or customized within an inch of their previous lives, these surfmobiles do everything but catch the waves for you.

Jeep Chief

Retro surf cool at its most Utah. Photo by Jeep
Retro surf cool at its most Utah. Photo: Jeep
The “surf rated” Jeep Chief, created by the manufacturer for this year’s Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, is a modern take on the classic surf favorite, the Cherokee Chief. A rich coat of sublime Ocean Blue paint perfectly conjures up a ’70s California beach vibe, while the interior takes the beach theme to Hawaii, with floral-pattern seats in pink, blue and white.

Vintage surfer logos are found on the console and the door handles, and a tiki-style shifter handle drives home the point. A surf car for Utah? Why not?

The Brian Conley Hurricane Hunter

Conley's Hurricane Hunter get him to these position like this. Photo by Brian Conley
Conley’s Hurricane Hunter gets him to positions like this. Photo: Brian Conley
The Ford F-350 has always been one of the great surf vehicles for true adventurers. Not surprising, then, that Brian Conley owns one.

The professional surfer had made a name for himself scouring the big waves of remote Mexico and Central America. His F-350 is no ordinary wagon, though. After a year of customization, and a rechristening as The Brian Conley Hurricane Hunter, it comes equipped with a custom-built engine, three-man Hannibal USA rooftop tent, 14,000-pound Pull Pal from Land Rover and a Ramsey winch with 100 inches of Master Pull nylon rope.

“It’s pretty much a never-ending project,” Conley told TRANSWORLD SURF, who estimated he had spent at least $65,000 on the surf wagon.

The Surflite

The Surflite is still futuristic, 50 years after it was made. Photo Grand National Roadster Show
The Surflite is still futuristic, 50 years after it was made. Photo: Grand National Roadster Show
Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was a Southern California artist, cartoonist and custom-car builder who is best remembered as the creator of the 1960s hit cartoon character Rat Fink. In 1964, he built and designed the Surflite, a canary-yellow asymmetrical surf car, built on an Austin Mini Cooper chassis and powered by a 1,269 cc Austin Mini Cooper chrome-plated engine.

It made an appearance in the movie Beach Blanket Bingo, but sadly, though unsurprisingly, never went into production.

The Oakley Surf Tacoma

This set up should get you a few looks in the local beach carpark. Photo by Oakley
This setup should get you a few looks in the local beach parking lot. Photo: Oakley
Unveiled at the SIMA (Surf Industry Manufacturers Association) show in 2011, the Oakley Surf Tacoma came with GPS, space for boards, a cooler, Wet Okole Hawaii custom-embroidered seat covers from wetsuit materials, a shower from the roof rack and a barbecue grill.

Based on the 4×4 Toyota Tacoma, it also had extra benefits under the hood, with an added supercharger bringing 304 horsepower. However, sadly, this supercharged surfmobile isn’t for sale; Oakley uses it purely as a promotional vehicle for their athletes.

Holden Sandman

The two Sandmans, parked 40 years apart. Photo by Red Bull Racing
The two Sandmans, parked 40 years apart. Photo: Red Bull Racing
The Holden Sandman was an iconic Australian 1970s surfmobile that was known for its vast space (either for girls or surfboards) in the back and a massive engine up front. In 2014, Red Bull Racing built a one-off Tribute Edition Sandman that brought the Sandman into the 21st century.

The new version came with a six-speed paddleshift gearbox, a 705bhp V8 engine and, most importantly, a surf rack. “It sounds like a race car and it’s faster than our race cars in a straight line,” said Red Bull Supercar racer Craig Lowndes, “just with the big banger engine.”

Mercedes G63 AMG 6×6

Six wheels good, four wheels bad. Photo by Mercedes
Six wheels good, four wheels bad. Photo: Mercedes
OK, maybe not technically known as a traditional surf vehicle, but if you rocked up to a beach with this military-inspired colossal double-cab pickup, we don’t think anyone would argue. It is the largest and most extreme road-legal SUV ever to hail from Mercedes’ road-car operations, and, produced on a limited basis, costs more than half a million bucks.

For that price you get a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine, a 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic transmission and plenty of room to put your boards in the back.

The turbocharged Volkswagen Campervan

All this VW Campervan needs is a turbo charged Porsche engine in the back. Photo by Volkswagen
All this VW Campervan needs is a turbocharged Porsche engine in the back. Photo: Volkswagen
Any talk of surf vehicles and the VW Campervan has to wrestle its way into the conversation, by sheer dint of surfer miles carried. Since the 1960s, the VW has been the vehicle of choice for any surfer who’s had more time than money, and more money than sense.

However, two years ago at the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon, the most expensive, and fastest, VW surf wagon was sold. It was a 500bhp VW campervan built for a private customer by German auto specialist TH Automobile. While the internal layout is typical of many of the modern VW T5 Campervans, it is powered by a Porsche 997 Turbo motor that sits in the boot.

Top speed? Two hundred twenty miles per hour. Cost? Just over $350,000.

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