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The Ark II and the Roamer were both built by the Brubaker Group, not Dean Jeffries as has been reported elsewhere. The reason for this confusion is that Jeffries designed a similar vehicle for the movie Damnation Alley and for years, people assumed the two vehicles were the same.
The Ark itself was build on a garbage/dump truck chasis and the main body was fiberglass modules over a welded steel frame. It was more of a prop than a vehicle. In show mode (i.e. fully assembled, as seen on-screen), the actual driver of the vehicle was not in the cockpit, but instead sat underneath and in front of the cockpit, in the "underbelly" of the front section. In reality, the driver could only see out through an opening at the top of the front boarding ramp and a small rectangular hole in the side. To overcome this problem on location, the fake driver (in the cockpit where Jonah usually sat) would have to give the real driver directions for manuevering. This was okay for location shots in the California desert areas, but not for getting to locations requiring actual road use!
So that the vehicle could actually be safely driven on the highway, the Brubaker Group designed the whole nose section to be unbolted so that the driver could see. When unbolted, legs would fold out from the nose so it could support itself. The, the driver could simply pull out and back up so the nose re-bolted on to the rear of the vehicle, with actual working turn signals and tail lites already inside the nose section's grille! The enabled the driver to be out in the open with a clear field of vision to drive on the California roads.
As in the show, the vehicle did have a fully-functional rear ramp for the Roamer so that it could be moved to a different location at the same time as the Ark, using only one driver.
When the Filmation people arrived to take possession of the Ark, it was the first time they had actually seen it, so the nose was installed for presentation. They then proceeded to put a driver in it and drove it back to Los Angeles in show mode! It hadn't even been licensed with the DMV at that point. The people at Brubaker said, to their knowledge, the nose was never taken off the front by the Filmation people and installed on the back. For all they know, FIlmation drove it around "blind" the entire time they had it!
The fact that the Ark's "body" was made out of fiberglass modules goes some way toward explaining how the front section got re-used when it came time to build the life-size mock-up of the Seeker spacecraft on Space Academy.
The Roamer was a modified "Brubaker Box" (which was what is called a "kit car", or a car one could buy as a kit and assemble themselves). This car was based on a Volkswagen Bus chassis.
Although a Brubaker Box, the vehicle had some modifications: it was shortened, had a "T-top" cut-out roof, fold-down half door on the right side (rather than a full-size sliding door), a "futuristic" dashboard and it also came with automatic transmission. The reason automatic transmission was added is twofold: one, because the young Jose Flores was not considered a "good" driver and two, due to the scenes where Adam, the chimp, was supposed to be driving and when the car was driving itself by remote control. Of course, the car did not drive itself and the monkey didn't drive, either. The scenes were accomplished by having a stunt driver hide behind the dash and operate the wheel and controls. This would have been practically impossible with a manual transmission.
At one time, the people at CodeOneAuto.com
Article comes from information submitted by Mike K. and newsgroup postings by J. Steven York.