2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

There have been some pretty exclusive vehicles gracing the pages of www.Autos.ca and LuxuryCarCanada.com of late. The Porsche Turbo, Ferrari 599 and Bugatti Veyron come to mind.

Take those noisy, cramped exotics, please. For a paltry US $780,000, a state-of-the-art 2006 Prevost LeMirage XL II custom coach pounds the pavement with 500 hp and 1500 ft/lbs of turbocharged torque, and can pull the ‘g’s with the best of them. As in, “Geez Martha! What the hell kinda bus is that?”

Well, sure, the acceleration may be a tad lacking when compared to those rockets, but you sure as hell can’t mix a martini while watching ‘The Sopranos’ on a 42-inch plasma TV in the Porsche. And how many bathrooms does the Veyron have? None, I bet.

While those supercars explore the outer limits of fast, personal transport, this latest Prevost represents the cutting edge in entertainment coaches – that exclusive breed of polished and painted giants that ply the motorways, carrying bands, crews and celebrities from gig to gig.

Are these mysterious leviathans really the rolling dens of rock n’ roll iniquity that we all imagine? Maybe. Since I’m currently touring with Anne Murray, I’m not the one to ask. But as far as ground based transportation goes, the tour bus is a pretty sweet way to get around.

2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

The St. Claire, Quebec-built Prevost is the bus of choice for this type of conversion. Our bus started life as the Le Mirage XLII Entertainer shell – 45 feet of rolling floor space with independent pneumatic leveling suspension, ABS, and an Allison 6-speed electronic adaptive transmission. Power is supplied by the latest Detroit Diesel Series 60 turbocharged and intercooled 12.7-litre inline six.

Volvo purchased Prevost a few years ago, and the coaches will be using the cleaner Volvo engines in the near future.

This shell was purchased by Kewl Komfort Entertainment Coaches of Scottsdale, Arizona for around $370,000 (US). Texas Custom Coachworks of Pipe Creek TX handled the opulent conversion that took about 120 days to complete.

2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

The typical configuration for a tour coach has the vehicle divided into three “zones”. The front section of this bus holds the main lounge with entertainment centre, kitchen area, and bathroom with shower. The left side can slide out when the bus is parked, increasing interior space. A “slider” adds $50,000 to the price of the shell.

Weird as it may sound, when nature calls for number two, one has to sheepishly ask the driver to look for the nearest service centre or, barring that, a large bush. Yes, this is standard tour bus practice and violators are instantly banished to the rock n’ roll hall of shame.

2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

Pass through a Star Trek-esque sliding door and you’re into the sleeping area. Our bus had eight bunks (there were only five of us travelling) but it can be configured to sleep twelve. Each bunk has two HVAC vents, 110 volt power, a reading lamp and a flip down LCD monitor that can tap into either of the two satellite systems or play DVDs. Sealy mattresses are provided for each insomniac, thank you very much.

Pass through the rear door and you’re into another leather-swathed lounge fitted with the other requisite entertainment centre. Having two satellites is pretty cool. While the lads in the front got bored watching baseball, I plunked my butt in the back and watched Speed channel.

2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

This bus also has wireless internet – a cool feature that makes whiling away the hours a little easier.

Tour bus drivers are a unique breed. Since most trips are at night, their existence is basically nocturnal and nomadic. Smoothness is the key to this gig, as we all need our beauty sleep out here.

Most drivers at this level are very good, although we’ve had a few scary ones over the years. Good or bad, they all have stories from the inner sanctums of rock and roll that can curl your hair. I remember one driver fondly reminiscing about his stint with Motley Crue when Tommy and Pam were an item. Apparently she’d bring him coffee in the morning with nothing on but the radio.

Our current driver had recently ferried Earth Wind and Fire, Lou Reed and No Doubt. Of course, hanging out with us for a few weeks did nothing to fortify his rather impressive arsenal of wild road tales.

2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus
2006 Prevost XLII Tour Bus. Click image to enlarge

“You guys are so easy. No drugs, no booze, no wild parties… no groupies. It’s like being on vacation!”

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Quality of sleep on a custom coach is directly related to which state one is passing through. Texas? Nighty-night. Northeastern US? Might be watching some late night TV in the bunk. The roads are generally winding, beat up, and under construction in this neck of the woods, so even though the bus is worth a million bucks, you never feel that way in the morning. More like a hundred.

As might be expected, the ultimate RV experience doesn’t come cheap. These new Prevosts command a premium. Pricing depends on time of year, number of buses being rented (we had three) and bus availability. If you’re planning the ultimate golfing trip to Florida with your buddies, don’t be surprised if the coach, driver and fuel lighten your wallet to the tune of almost a g-note US per day.

Rock on.

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