Last Updated on September 14, 2023
Whether you want to appeal to customers or friends, tailgates are a great time to party, look cool, and even make money. But what’s a tailgate without a vehicle ready for tailgating? Perhaps, you want to find one, or make one, but you’re not sure what automotive options to add to your list or what each option would even have to offer. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a look at the ultimate tailgating vehicles: a comprehensive guide.
What are your Tailgating Options?
What you ultimately choose to buy as a tailgating vehicle, or convert into one, will depend on both your budget and particular needs. Each will have its own set of perks and drawbacks. Now, let’s look at what’s available.
The truck, especially a pickup truck, is a symbol of American tailgating parties. They offer ample cargo space for grills, coolers, chairs, and all other necessary gear. Plus, the tailgate (the back part of the truck) provides an ideal seat to kick back and enjoy pre-game festivities. If you’re looking for a comfortable and covered tailgating party experience, trucks with bed covers or camper shells are excellent choices. These covered spaces not only offer shelter but can also be set up as cozy spots to escape from unfavorable weather conditions. Some truck models even feature built-in speakers to elevate the party atmosphere. One drawback is that the cost can sometimes be prohibitive, making used trucks a better investment for those working on a budget.
Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
RVs are also great for tailgates as they take comfort and convenience to another level. They’re essentially a home on wheels, with a more extensive range of amenities than trucks. That includes a bathroom, kitchen, and sometimes even a lounge area. Of course, this all comes at a higher cost. Though, the convenience and comfort factors make an RV worth considering. Imagine pulling up to the party in one with access to everything you need without ever leaving your vehicle. Whether you’re traveling cross-country or just down the road to a local game, there are so many models available and budget-friendly options too.
Vans are often overlooked for tailgating, but they offer a good blend of space and comfort. They provide ample room for all your gear, and the back can be converted into a comfortable lounge area. Not to mention, vans can be more economical than a truck or RV, saving you money in the long-run. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also customize your ride with awesome features like a mini-fridge, upgraded speakers, or even a small grill. Even better, vans are ubiquitous, making them readily available on the used vehicle market or at vehicle auctions.
Upcycling Old Vehicles: Buses and Ambulances
With a bit of imagination and elbow grease, you could have even more options for your next tailgate. These include school buses, city buses, even ambulances.
A school bus is practically a blank canvas. It has an abundance of space, all of which can be tailored for specific needs. Imagine a lounge area on one side, a bar on the other, and speakers all around to play music. Similarly, city buses are fit for conversion with their wide aisles and tall roofs. There is ample room for sitting and other things. That being said, transforming a bus requires time, effort, and a budget. However, the end result can undoubtedly be worthwhile!
Similar to buses, ambulances can take on new life after serving the medical industry. The compartments that once held medical supplies can be converted into storage for food, grills, coolers, blankets, and other tailgating essentials. The electrical capacity of the vehicle can be useful for charging devices or installing a television, especially if you’re trying to entertain customers or friends before a big game.
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Eric Lahti won an ambulance in Massachusetts and turned his ride into a masterpiece. His conversions amazed both him and other residents.
“I had this crazy idea that I was going to mount the grills to the stretcher. Everybody thought I was nuts, but right now it’s the whole showpiece of the whole parking lot.”
“Mechanically, I can do just about anything. I’ll figure it out. I’m a car guy. Grew up doing cars. So, I had that advantage.”
“I put a plan together because they’re all different. They’re different seating arrangements. Mine sits eight people. Two in the front, six in the back. That was important to us because we take six people all the time, sometimes eight.”
“An ambulance is one car space, right? So, you pay for the one pass space. It’s only the $50 bucks. You bring a bus, it’s $150 to park. I never really thought about that, and to do the work on the ambulance was fairly simple. We did it in three weeks. I think if I did a bus, I’d probably still be working on it.”
Building Your Tailgating Masterpiece
The very notion of repurposing an ambulance into a tailgating vehicle brings a unique charm and curiosity factor. Here are some perks you can expect after converting your ambulance, bus, or whatever vehicle you choose.
Unique Charm and Space Efficiency
It’s not every day you see an ambulance used for something other than medical emergencies, but this aspect can make your tailgating party the talk of the town. You’ll definitely be a unique landmark in the parking lot. The same applies to being in a bus.
Moreover, the design of both takes into account space efficiency. Ambulances are designed to accommodate medical equipment, staff, and patients in a streamlined manner. Buses are designed to transport many people, providing with space to stand and sit. You won’t need the space for traveling, but plenty of legroom will boost your reputation as a good party host.
Built for Power and Durability
Ambulances are built on durable, robust chassis designed to handle intense situations and varied terrains. That means you can count on their sturdy construction to withstand multiple seasons of use, use in different locations, and travel. Moreover, ambulances are equipped with powerful engines to ensure fast transportation in emergency scenarios. This power allows for smooth handling when your vehicle is packed.
Buses are not designed for emergency transportation, but their engines are built for extended periods of use. You won’t need to consider refueling for some time and you can feel comfortable keeping your ride idling.
Most ambulances come with air conditioning and heating systems, ensuring the comfort of patients and medical professionals. In a tailgating scenario, this can be a boon during hot summer or chilly winter games, providing a nice refuge from extreme temperatures. Buses will not provide the degree of air control, but systems can be added and there are multiple windows to modify to your liking.
Furthermore, many ambulances have pre-installed inverters, making it easy to power your gadgets and appliances while inside. A normal city bus or school bus won’t have this feature, but if you converted a party bus, then you would.
Cost and Availability
Used ambulances are often available at reasonable prices at government auctions, especially compared to RVs or custom-made tailgating rides. Before you start browsing though, keep in mind that they do come with challenges. For instance, their previous emergency work might have put a lot of wear and tear on the engine and other components. Be sure to have a professional check over it before purchasing.
The same applies to buying a bus. Transporting a ton of people, constant stopping and going, and idling can cause plenty of wear. Do your due diligence to ensure that after buying a vehicle, you won’t also have to spend additional money covering unforeseen repairs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best vehicle for tailgate parties?
The best vehicle for tailgate parties depends on your specific needs and budget. Trucks are a classic choice, offering ample space and a traditional tailgate. RVs provide unrivaled comfort and amenities, while vans offer a budget-friendly option with plenty of room. If you’re looking for something unique, consider customizing a vehicle or repurposing an old bus or ambulance.
What are the parking space costs for tailgating?
Parking costs vary widely depending on the venue and event. Some venues offer free parking, while others may charge anywhere from $20 to $100 or more. The size of your vehicle, such as an RV or bus, might also affect the cost. It’s recommended to check the venue’s website or contact them directly for specific parking information.
What should you have inside a tailgate vehicle?
Inside a tailgate vehicle, you should have essentials like a grill, cooler for drinks, comfortable seating, a good speaker system for music, and a canopy or tent for shade. Depending on your vehicle, you might also have amenities like a bathroom, kitchen, or lounge area.
So, are you ready to join the tailgating party revolution? Go ahead and browse vehicle auctions for your ultimate tailgating vehicle. It’s an investment that guarantees a good time, every time.
The beauty of customizing an ambulance, bus, something else, is that it gives you the freedom to build your tailgating party experience from the ground up. You have the liberty to add features that cater specifically to your needs and preferences. You can install a state-of-the-art speaker system for the ultimate party playlist, set up a grilling area for those pre-game barbecues, or even create a mini sports bar right within your vehicle.
Embarking on this endeavor will require time, a budget, and a clear understanding of what you want. With those things in place, your possibilities are limitless. If you ever think that converting a bus is too much to do on your own then consult a professional and learn the practice through online tutorials. You’ll be surprised by what you can do on your own.