The Cold War produced some very strange machines designed for specific purposes. One of the weirdest is the LeTourneau TC-497, an off-road tractor used to pull an overland train. Built to meet logistical needs, it was 572 feet long and holds the record for the longest all-terrain vehicle.
Looking like the cross between earth-moving machine and post-apocalyptic vehicle in a sci-fi movie, the TC-497 Overland Mark 2 would make a fantastic all-terrain RV. It is air-conditioned and includes an open-plan kitchen straight out of a 1960s studio. The general chef’s kitchenette includes a sink, stove, oven and fridge. Next to it, a table with stools offers space for two people.
At the back of the kitchen are six bunk beds. The layout has the feel of a ship or submarine and is a very basic military spec. Like the kitchen, the sleeping area is a time capsule straight out of this period, down to the light green color of the walls and furniture.
The TC-497 had no engine. He had a the engine room. Three Solar 10MC gas turbines generated electrical power for the train’s electric propulsion, all housed in separate motor cars. A fourth turbine powered the cabin and powered the vehicle’s air conditioning and electrical systems. Each turbine weighed over 1,650 pounds and produced 1,170 horsepower.
But perhaps the most impressive feature is the incineration toilet. Instead of wasting water, creating compost, or functioning as a cat litter box, incineration toilets burned waste leaving a small amount of ash. Next to it is a fold-down sink with hot and cold running water. Like everything else, it’s straight out of the 1960s down to the soap, toilet paper and paper towel dispenser.
Standing over 30 feet high, the control cabin offers an unobstructed view. Like everything else, it has a nautical feel and includes space for an operator, train commander and navigator. The speedometer tops out at 30 mph. Video footage shown at the Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center where the vehicle is located shows it moving at a walk.
We’ve seen some pretty amazing land campers made from military vehicles, like the M1087 military tactical vehicle, this 1954 Dodge military truck, or more recently, this M1078 known as the Expedition Nugget. But a TC-497 Overland Mark 2 motorhome would beat them all.