The Street Sleeper looks and feels like a king-size four-poster bed. Underneath, however, it packs a Volkswagen engine, hidden by a dust ruffle. Guided by a steering wheel artfully concealed beneath the duvet, it glides along at 45 mph on four standard car wheels. China, 30, who handles the driving, charges $300 for a three-hour tour of two top sight-seeing spots. Pj's are optional. Says China: "We embrace the funny side of life."
With 10,000 miles on it, the bed has earned China $21,000 since 1999. "You're comfortable, and he's a superb driver," says London pastry chef Adam Aldous, fresh from a birthday jaunt. "It's really funny seeing tourists fall all over themselves on the sidewalk."
The son of aerospace engineer John, who died in 1975, and homemaker Ruth, 54, China, an auto repairman, found his calling in 1989 when he created a Volkswagen Beetle from junkyard parts. Then came the Street Sleeper, which he built for $40,000 (for parts, labor, pillowcases).
"People thought it was loony at first," says China, who's single and lives in Farnborough, southwest of London. Although the Street Sleeper violates no laws (it even has seat belts), it does draw the attention of the police. "They've made it plain," he says, "they'd prefer I not drive it on the highway."
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