The origin of tailgating has yet to be agreed upon. Do we have early Ivy League sporting events to thank? Or the much darker tradition of Civil War families settling down with picnic baskets to watch soldiers get massacred? (Yikes.)
Regardless of its strange beginnings, tailgating has not only become an American pastime, but a booming industry. The Tailgating Industry Association (yes, that’s a real thing) has estimated nationwide spending to be around $20 billion for party necessities. And that number continues to rise every year. Furthermore, it appears the tailgate is becoming the destination itself, with revelers having no actual intention of ever entering the stadium. Around 35% of tailgaters to be exact, according to a National Geographic series on the future of food.
So, why would someone drive to a parking lot to host a party you ask? Well, have you seen some of the vehicles showing up at these things? We have! You may want to consider upping your tailgating game because these are the best of best party vehicles to ever grace a stadium parking lot.
Seattle Seahawks’ Beast Bus
Who wouldn’t want to party on a rig named “The Beast”? The 12th Man, a group of Seattle Seahawks super fans, shipped in a 1984 Double Decker bus from London and transformed it into an extravagant tailgating machine. Holding more than 50 people, The Beast offers a full bar, multiple TVs and speakers, and original seats from the Kingdome. But the best part? The thousands of dollars they raise at tailgates is donated to help kids with autism. Drinking for a cause? We can get down with that.
If you find yourself in the great state of, um… New Jersey, you may want to pop over to Rutger’s University and check out the Rutger’s Jitney. This custom tailgating machine began its life as an Atlantic City jitney, a public transportation minibus. When the city upgraded its fleet, a group of Rutgers alumni plucked one from the bunch and transformed it into their personal party rig. With TVs, a kegerator, and even a custom grill, it’s no wonder this ride won the 2012 Bold Tailgate Award for best vehicle and was inducted into the tailgating section of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, GA. If that doesn’t make it worth getting off the Turnpike, nothing does.
Looking for something a little more opulent for your high brow tailgating tastes? Maybe this is more your speed. Just outside the gates of the University of South Carolina stadium are 22 stationary train cabooses referred to as Cockabooses. Purchased in 1990 by a Columbia, SC real estate developer, the Cockaboose cars have been retrofitted with air conditioning, kitchenettes, bathrooms, and a deck. You better have your wallet ready, though, as these babies have sold for as much as $300,000 a pop. Although, for significantly less, you could just buy some quality craft beer and befriend someone who already owns one, right?
If you’re a Florida Gators fan and find yourself suddenly faced with the quandary of needing to comfortably transport 12 people who very much enjoy alcoholic beverages, you’re in luck! The infamous and rascally-named MasterGator Tailgating Bus is available to rent for your next tailgating party. The retrofitted 1992 Ford B700 Bus boasts a covered back porch, Gator-decorated interior, stereo, TV, and even an on-board bathroom. Forget the game, didn’t your fiancé mention something about wanting you to “get more involved” in the wedding planning? Check bridal party transportation off your list.
Next up is the Baylor University tailgate ambulance. We’ve already discovered that retrofitted ambulances make great conversion vans, but it appears they also make excellent party wagons. This particular tailgating machine started as a 2002 Ford E350 ambulance to which its owners added pigskin seats, new tires, three TVs, and a solar-powered battery charger. As of April 16, 2018, this beauty was still up on Craigslist for $15,000. I guess you can put a price on fun.
TCU Garbage Truck
While you’re enjoying Texas, head north to TCU and check out the garbage truck-inspired tailgate rig from Progressive Waste Solutions. Complete with a sound system, multiple TVs, an on-board bar with custom upholstered stools, skylights, and an awning, this ride is ready to party. A locker room-inspired interior makes you feel like part of team (without the usual smells), and a Traeger wood fired grill out back serves up delicious tailgating essentials. They even have a dumpster that has been transformed into a free-standing bar. Talk about attention to detail.
And for those who want to take the party beyond the parking lot, maybe “sailgating” is the way to go. On an episode of Flipping Ships, former Clemson football player, Will Merritt, and his family saw their old pontoon boat transformed into a new wave pregame rig. Decked out with custom upholstery, old stadium seats turned fishing chairs, two TVs, a grill, an ice machine, and even astro-turf from the field, this boat has seriously upped the ante. Looks like the tailgating industry in seriously starting to diversify.
So, how does your tailgating rig compare? Let us know in the comments what kind of party accessories you can’t live without!