While we were camped the second night at Great Smoky Mountains N.P., we met Mick, the owner of a newer Tiger RV. He reminded us that the Tiger factory is in Columbia, South Carolina. We were going right thru there on our way to Savannah, GA so we called ahead and spoke with Kay who said it'd be fine if we dropped by for a visit!
In this modest building, some of the greatest expedition vehicles on the market are being built.
And our goofy little LeTigre is a predecessor to these awesome rigs!
When we arrived at the shop we met Kay in person who had arranged for Joe to take us on a tour of the shop!
This is one of the Tigers undergoing construction before it gets married to the truck chassis.
Even Kipper was invited along so he didn't have to wait in the van! Joe toured us thru the factory and explained every step of the process that goes into making these awesome vehicles.
This is a brand new truck being prepped to receive the Tiger conversion.
Nearby was a unit nearing completion. Almost ready for paint...
A completed "Bengal Tiger".
This model has a higher roof than the standard "CX" model for buyers who require more headroom. These rigs are built to go anywhere in comfort. They can't really be called "motorhomes" anymore because that doesn't really convey what they can do and where you can go with them. Joe refers to them as "adventure vehicles," which is much more appropriate. Check out the gallery on their website and check out the "Travelin Tortuga" blog and you'll see that their customers are taking these vehicles into every corner of the globe.
The new rigs have evolved to the point that they don't have much in common with the old Tigers, like our LeTigre, except for some hints at the original shape and the interior layout. However, the current owner, Mark, has really embraced the company's history and even has the first Tiger ever built in a corner of the shop! Luckily, the original owners called him out of the blue when they decided to sell it and Mark bought it! In addition to that, all over the lobby there're old photos, newspaper articles, and reviews about the older models, like ours. There's also an annual rally held in June where Tiger owners new and old get together and share stories about their travels in these great vehicles!
Mark even took the time to look over LeTigre and help me suss out a charging issue we're having with our 12-volt system. We've met several new Tiger owners during our travels and have heard repeatedly that Mark is a great guy to deal with and he really listens to his customers.
Technically LeTigre was built in the original location outside Denver but we considered this a homecoming for her and were so impressed with the facility, the vehicles, and most of all, the people. Angie and I won't be in the market anytime soon on our meager travel budget for a new Tiger (although we aspire to own one!) so we were truly flattered that the people at Tiger Adventure Vehicles took the time to show us around. Thanks to Mark, Kay, Joe, Bill, and everyone at Tiger.
See you down the road!