The Scarbo Vintage SV Rover is the Closest Thing We Have to a “Hyper Truck”

Scarbo Vintage

If you had a blank check and the brief to build “The closest thing to a life-like R/C car that you could,” what would it look like? While the outcomes of such a thought exercise are myriad, I’d bet many of you would end up with something that looks an awful lot like this creation from California-based design firm SV Vintage.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover exterior side profile studio
Scarbo Vintage

Meet the SV Rover, a purpose-built desert racing truck that pushes the boundaries of what an off-roader can do—so much so that the company is boldly proclaiming it to be the world’s first “Hyper Truck.” The SV Rover is loosely based on the design of a classic Land Rover Defender, but to say the two share anything in common is like saying my 75-lb Golden Retriever is “loosely based on” Mystik Dan, the thoroughbred horse that took home this year’s Kentucky Derby.

This two-seat, rear-midengined monster truck wears carbon-fiber bodywork that shrouds a fully bespoke, custom-fabricated tube chassis and space frame with all sorts of neat engineering tricks. In fact, in the walk-around video below, founder and CEO Joe Scarbo explains that the original goal for the SV Rover was to build a truck that was compliant with the Trophy Truck regulations for the SCORE international off-road racing series. It just so happened that once the truck’s development phase was complete, the thing could be legally driven on roads—in California, at least.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover exterior front end studio
Scarbo Vintage

The SV Rover first debuted at the F.A.T. International ice race in Aspen, Colorado, earlier this year. If the Scarbo Vintage name sounds familiar, recall that the outfit is also responsible for a Corvette-engined mid-60s F1 tribute car, aptly named the SVF1, as well as the bonkers SV RSR 911 restomod race car.

So what all is hiding beneath that bodacious bodywork? The magic really starts with the suspension, arguably the most important system for an off-road vehicle. The SV Rover boasts inboard pushrod suspension at both ends enabling 30 inches of wheel travel at each corner. The ride height is fully adjustable thanks to a four-corner air-ride system that compliments the massive, remote reservoir dampers. The system enables you to optimize ground clearance for rock crawling, where you want as much space as possible between your vehicle and the earth, and for off-road racing, where a lower center of gravity is better suited to desert hijinks.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover rear suspension component details
Scarbo Vintage

More than just the damper system, though, the brilliance here is in how the suspension works with the chassis—or rather, as part of the chassis. The front and rear differential carriers are both chassis nodes, meaning that the suspension components bolt into those carriers rather than to other points on the chassis. This technique is common in R/C cars and gives the resulting machine increased wheel travel and articulation—Scarbo cites the Traxxas Revo as a big influence for this design.

Unlike those R/C cars, though, the SV Rover had to make room for actual passengers in the interior. To accommodate the added packaging constraints, the front dampers are positioned ahead of the inboard rocker arms instead of behind them, like you’d see if you popped the bodywork of one of those Traxxas cars.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover engine and exhaust details
Scarbo Vintage

On the other side of that little passenger compartment, you’ll find the business end of this brute. Scarbo Vintage will build you an SV Rover with your choice of two very distinct powertrains. Your first option is an 1100-hp supercharged V-8 setup with a 65-gallon fuel tank positioned beneath the cabin area. If you’d rather, you can also spec your SV Rover with a 750-kW EV powertrain that draws from a 75-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that, conveniently, sits in that same protected enclosure below the floor. The V-8 will get an 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission, while the EV variant does without a dedicated gearbox. Scarbo says that for the V-8 configuration, the total weight for the SV Rover will still ring in below 4500 lbs, which is pretty impressive.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover exterior rear three quarter lights on
Scarbo Vintage

Both powertrains will propel the SV Rover in two-wheel- or four-wheel-drive, selectable by the driver. The two-speed transfer case is divorced from the transmission and positioned in the front in both configurations, but the choice was made specifically to accommodate the EV drivetrain. The front and rear differentials are selectable locking, depending on your crawling or cruising needs.

Despite all that capability, the interior of the SV Rover looks like a fine place to spend some time. The fully digital cockpit incorporates two screens—a 12.3-inch unit ahead of the driver and a 12.8-inch unit off on the center of the dashboard for multimedia duties. There are even a few comfort amenities such as power-locking doors and windows, and climate control.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover interior dashboard detail
Scarbo Vintage

So, what will all this goodness run you? Unsurprisingly, it won’t come cheap. Pricing starts at a heady $1.5M, though each vehicle is configured for a specific client, so the final price tag could ring in a bit lower or much higher, depending on what the buyer wants. At least it’s not a lump sum payment, however; Scarbo Vintage says each build will take about 10 months to complete. A deposit of $500,000 is due upon completion of your order, with another $500K due when the rolling chassis is fitted with the suspension and drivetrain components. The remaining balance is due when a client takes possession of their SV Rover.

Scarbo Vintage SV Rover interior from driver's door steering wheel detail
Scarbo Vintage

Be sure to check out the walkaround video below, where Scarbo reveals all sorts of interesting tidbits about what went into building such an audacious machine.


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    There are lots of things in terms of suspension and the V8 variant that sound quite interesting but $1.5 million is a crazy number. Touchscreen in the dash, oh boy not a great idea for an off road vehicle to me.

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