Converting a Dodge Sprinter into a Camper Van
Written by Matt
This weekend we bought a VAN!! Not just any van, but our new home on wheels for the next 6mo or more, who we have adoringly named Clifford. He is a 2006 Dodge Sprinter high top van with an extended bed. We opted for the biggest version we could find for a few reasons. 1). I’m 6’4” and while I still… won’t be able to stand up straight in the back of Cliff, there is a big difference between a 2-3” slouch and a 8-10” humpback position. We’ll see how my posture fairs through the next 6 mo or so. We wanted the extra length just so it’s nice and roomy inside. It gets about the same mileage as a shorter sprinter and provides us a lot more flexibility.
So Why a van?
Me and Allison are quitting our jobs in a month. If you want to read more about that decision check out our other post. We are traveling the US for at least 6mo to try and find our forever home when we decide to settle down and have kids. We figured the best way to do that is to bring our house with us.
We had been scouring the internet looking at RVs and already built camper vans…. Nothing seemed to quite fit our personality and our desires for what we wanted in a tiny home on wheels. Sure, I would love to roll down the freeway in a 35ft class A motorhome with more than enough space to bring an additional small family on board. But we felt that while this arrangement would probably be a bit more comfortable, it didn’t really fit with our idea of what we wanted out of our new minimalistic lifestyle. Not to mention the inherent damage to our bank account and the environment as we bounce down the road at an anticipated 6-8mpg!
We decided we wanted something smaller and nimbler that we could easily drive and park. That we wouldn’t have any restrictions on what parks we could go to or where we could drive (some state parks limit you to less than 30ft). We wanted something that had all the features we wanted and nothing extra that we thought we didn’t. We wanted something that got good mileage so we could drive to our heart's content and never feel stuck because we didn’t want to spend the money to move. We wanted to only have a single vehicle without an additional tow car.
So we started our search for a small Class B or Class C camper. We arrived at a ton of these:
V10 fords that somehow… while being 10+ ft shorter than our Class A example, still only managed to squeak out 10mpg headed downhill with a tailwind. I then found the Diesel sprinter RVs. This was my first introduction to the Mercedes sprinter and I loved them. Unfortunately the cheapest one I could find was 10+ years old and was still $60,000. I also found a brand new Diesel Ford Transit that was pretty appealing for $55,000. At least if I’m going to spend the money I’ll get something new right?
This was our plan, It really was, up until about a week ago. We ventured into the #VanLife section of YouTube and got hooked. Alli was enthralled by the idea of having this simplistic, minimalist lifestyle all housed inside of a van we could easily drive and park anywhere. We could stealth camp in the city if we wanted to and it all just seemed like such a nice little package.
I immediately started the research and watched 20+videos of other people’s van tours and van builds. There is a wealth of great information out there and vanlifers are super passionate about their lifestyle witch pulled me and Alli in even more.
So in a week’s time we went from just waiting until we quit, to put the money down on a $55,000 RV, to saying F@*K that we are doing it ourselves… We are DIYers already and I think it fits with our personalities and our future lifestyle even more to construct our own van conversion. I will detail the whole experience here and you’ll see the whole cost breakdown of how we did our conversion, the plans, the equipment, the things that I break, or mess up and have to do twice. You’ll see it all.
Let us know what you think about Cliff and our Van life plans! Leave us a comment below!