Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dobbertin Surface Orbiter

Back in the early 90's a car builder/adventurer named Rick Dobbertin and his wife, Karen, set about building the ultimate RV.   The Dobbertin Surface Orbiter.  It would travel over land and water on a planned circumnavigation of the world.  

Rick started with a 1959 Heil milk tanker of all things, and went from there.

He hand-built a frame into which he installed a 6.5L GM Turbodiesel (marine converted) engine with a 4sp automatic and 4WD.  

Frame - 910 pieces of 304 Stainless Steel
6.5L GM Turbodiesel engine
For the interior, a full RV type interior was constructed.  The dual controls look more at home in an aircraft than an RV.  The detail work on this vehicle is brilliant.  The build took over 4 years and 14,000 hours of work.  

In the Panama Canal

All images and information are from the Dobbertin Surface Orbiter website.  There is tons more photos and information there.  Check out the rest of his site as well.  Lots of cool and off-the-wall projects he's working on.  My kind of guy.


  1. The DSO is one of my all time favorite vehicles! You have a KOOL sight here. I have an Amphicar you might like and a "home brewed" motothome made from a Peterbilt. (Cactus Pete) see youtube. Thanks again for a fun websight!
    PS I drive amphibious vehicles for a living, check out

  2. It looks pretty awesome. It's like a juggernaut, and a super-car of the future that you'd expect to see in a science fiction story. It's amazing that it can handle both earth and water on its journey.

    Also, the look and feel of the car is not quite steampunk. Dieselpunk, maybe?

  3. It reminds me of a banana boat, only it has wheels. :) Its structure is specifically designed for both land and water setting. If you are to travel somewhere far away, and you will need to cross both land and water, you need not transfer from a vehicle to a boat. This ride is just the thing! ;)

  4. It's a sad thing he could not complete all his project concerning the DSO, but I feel he fail at not including fiber glass and titanium wire, for instance, making the vehicle lighter and more fuel efficient. Those wheels in the back must have weighted a ton! I don't want to sound as a sofa-coach, but the performance on the road and on water requires a common ground, and before that, lots of trimming can be done. Beside that I found the DSO a compelling effort and an exiting dream to accomplish. I would like to see something like that finished around the Globe.


Comments are encouraged. Let us know what you think!