By: IOL Motoring Staff
This is the Glaarkshouse, literally a home on wheels for Jennifer (36) and Peter Glas (41), a German couple who got married in April 2013 and have lived in it ever since, on an open-ended honeymoon adventure that has so far taken them across 14 countries - Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sri Lanka and India - with no end in sight.
Right from the planning stages they decided that if any vehicle was to take them to the roof of the world - the primary target was Nepal - it would have to be a Unimog. And it is - a 1986 435-Series U 1300 L, with a 5.7-litre Mercedes-Benz diesel delivering 93kW and almost enough torque to tilt the world on its axis.
ALL MOD CONS
The custom-built box body has a floor area of just seven square metres, but includes a sleeping area with a full-sized double bed, a kitchenette with a double gas burner, a fridge-freezer and a sink with hot and cold running water, a shower cubicle (also H + C) and a chemical toilet.
Solar panels in the roof provide sufficient 12 and 24-volt DC to power the house without running the engine when camped, while under the floor there are two 140-litre diesel tanks and a dozen jerry-cans for a total of 540 litres, 180 litres of fresh water and - unbelievably - just one spare wheel, which they have only needed once so far.
STEEP, ROCKY TRAILS
Fully tanked, the Glaarkshouse is self-sustaining for off-road trips into the wild blue yonder of several days. By off-road standards it's big - six metres long, 2.3 metres wide and 3.45 a lofty 3.45 metres high - and it weighs 7.5 tons fully loaded but, thanks to the 435's three differential locks and the vast ground clearance provided by its portal axles, they've never yet got stuck, whether in the rocky Anatolian highlands or on the endless beaches of Oman.
The steep, rocky trails of south-eastern Turkey were no more than a shake-down; the sand dunes of the Dasht-e-Kavier desert in Iran posed a somewhat greater challenge - but even more impressive was the reception they got from the locals.
Iran is Mercedes country, especially the super-tough Gelandewage - but the Unimog, originally designed, like the Land Rover, as an agricultural implement, was in a class of its own. Wherever they stopped, Mercedes fans took the opportunity to look under the chassis and, if possible, under the bonnet.
Much the same awaited them in Oman, where they really put the Glaarkshouse through its paces, much to the delight of the desert savvy Omanis - especially after they pulled a number of stranded SUVs out of the sand!
As of February 2014 the Glas' were in India, where for once the Glaarkhouse's towering presence was actually an advantage in terms of good visibility on India's chaotic roads, with the roof of the world - Nepal, Tibet, China and Mongolia, next on the itinerary.
Sounds easy when you say it quickly, doesn't it?
And the name? It's a combination of their surnames: Glas and Parks - Jennifer's maiden name.
Follow their progress on the Glaarkshouse website.