Having always been attracted to compact living spaces on wheels and having been stranded several times in VW Westfalias, I decided to start off with a basic solid vehicle with reliability, safety and small size in mind. The challenge of fitting as many desirable features in a limited space attracted me greatly. Found this 2017 Ford Transit Connect passenger van with 16K miles for 20K dollars here in the Bay Area.
Essential for me was being able to stand up and a sense of spaciousness. Hence the rear-hinged pop-top, purchased from England. Cutting it to size was a bit of a pain, a local welding shop made the strengthening frame, the rest was pretty straight forward. A single flex solar panel and a ceiling fan just fit on the 6″ top. The bed slides forwards and backwards to max 6′3″, while still allowing standing space to cook and stretch. A 200ah battery and 1K watt inverter is sufficient for blender, 150-watt space heater, movie screen etc. Slightly larger size tires and a yet to be installed 1″ lift kit gives it a bit more clearance. The van took 8 months to complete, gets 32 mpg at 65 mph on level road. Inadvertently the additional weight gives it a smooth ride while retaining enough power. The six speakers and good seats makes this a perfect rig for my travel needs and stealth camping. My pup Bella agrees!
Note: Rolf’s bus “Old Red” is featured in our new book Rolling Homes on pp. 204–205.