How the Tide rolls now: in a $200,000 Nick Saban Signature Mercedes-Benz Sprinter tricked out with three televisions, hardwood floors, high-grain leather upholstery and seats that give University of Alabama football fans backrubs.
The legendary coach collaborated on the design of the limited-edition luxury van designed to coddle tailgaters who overrun the Tuscaloosa school’s campus on football weekends. It was introduced this week at the automaker’s Birmingham dealership, which Saban co-owns.
Saban, whose Crimson Tide has won three national championships since he began at the school in 2007, has a contract worth $7 million per year and a statue outside the stadium. He’s the subject of adulation unseen in Alabama since the 1983 death of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, whose flinty visage gazes from shrines in homes and businesses.
The 15 Sabanmobiles were devised by McSweeney Designs, a division of McSweeney Holdings in Trussville, Alabama, which also builds armored luxury vehicles for buyers in Africa and the Middle East.
The coach’s signature is stitched in red on the vehicle’s headrests, and it has a high-end audio system and massage chairs, according to his daughter, Kristen Saban-Setas, who is in charge of marketing it.
The special Sprinter “is truly an exquisitely custom-tailored vehicle,” she said in an e-mail. “The ultimate tailgating experience.”