Introduction: Hack Your Car to Convert It to a Camper, an Office, ...

It is my second instructables but it is on a topic I really like. Travelling like this is really flexible and ultimate freedom. I saw the contest too late, so will have to write the instructable in one go...

Let's first start with explaining an idea before actually clarifying how to do it.

Every time I visit a car exhibition i am very surprised of the lack of functionality a car actually delivers. Driving from A to B, but that is basically it.

Wouldn't it be nice if a car contained factory installed a sort of open standard board on the side where you could create additional custom made functions? A camper, an office, a transport vehicle, a bike mount, etc...

That is exactly what i tried to do in my peugeot expert tepee. I created a wooden board on both sites with a grid of M10 screws every 10 by 10cm.

Step 1: Hack Your Car

The first step is to install a wooden panel on both sides with a grid of 10cm by 10cm.

I did the build some time ago, so photos are limited. What you do is you remove the sides, that goes very easy. Sorry no photos of that process.

Then you create a wooden plate for the right side. The size and format will be very dependent on your vehicle of choice. Create a grid of drilled holes every 10cm. The idea is to create all required furniture later based on this grid. Then use the wooden anchored nut (don't know the exact word) look at photo 3-5.

We now have to search for five anchor points in the car to mount the plate and fix it thoroughly.

I found two at the back door, one in the middle and two on the back.

For the two on the back door I was able to use screw and spacers. For the three other fixing points we required wire rods to bridge the distance from the frame to the plate. Hope the pictures clarify it better, but it will be a very custom process in your own car.

Once it is finished you can use it as a mirror template to make the lefts side plate.

Install the sides in the car, align them and fix them correctly.

Clean-up and you got yourself a universal modified car ;-)

Step 2: The Van Life: Living Room Mode

After that your car is converted to a multifunctional environment it requires some additional components to sleep and eat in.

But with this hacked environment is becomes very simple. We need 4 plates of 45cm width and the length should just fit between the two panels pre-installed in the first step. In my case they are 122cm long as that is the standard width of the wooden plates you can get here in europe.

So if we go camping you look at the essential 3 functions: sitting, eating and sleeping:

Living Room mode:

  • We screw on both sides a support bar. This remains in as it is also used for the bed.
  • The back of the seat is secured by screwing two m10 screws in the back and front in the grid.
  • We install a cushion for a better seat.

This seat can easily moved back and forward or inversed to accommodate a nice "back door" view.

Step 3: The Van Life: Sleeping Mode

If you want to go to sleep, it is required to:

  • Take the support feet on both sides down.
  • Take the back of the seat and position it next.
  • Take the fourth plate and install it last. ( it is mounted away under the seat).
  • Install the mattress and sleep.

The car is perfectly stealth, so sleeping can happen almost anywhere.

Step 4: The Van Life: Kitchen Mode

Cooking is actually the living room mode with a camp kitchen box.

The box I created was based on this instructions

With a few hacks of course ;-) See if I can make an extra instructable for that later on.

When it rains you eat inside, as you see on photo3-5.

But by preference you take the kitchen box out and create a table for dinner.

Two options:

  • Using one 45cm part and placing it on top of two small chairs.Using the kitchen box separately for cooking.
  • Or connect it to the kitchen box to create a table. One part has hinges attached.


Step 5: The Van Life: Chill Mode

Make the bench longer or sit aside and remove the back of the bench.

Install the matress and relax...

Step 6: The Van Life: Start Travelling

If you want to go camping, we load:

  • the kitchen box
  • a 12v fridge
  • Our sleeping stuff
  • Clothes and food

And of you go.

It has been tested numerous occasions and the flexibility is perfect.

The car is absolutely stealth and can easily camp inside cities. Instead of loading a kitchen and cooling box it would be nice to create a combining furniture element as you can see on the photo, but that is for another time ;-)

What is not described:

After the side frames there is some room left.

So standard we have some umbrellas, small bbq, extension cord, chairs, etc...

There is also a secondary battery of 100AH installed to feet the electronics, some lighting and the fridge. This is charged on the alternator of the car.

Also a 19Liter water container resides behind the side frame.

I will try to continue to complete the instructable further and even load some video to explain the result.

Work in progress for some weeks later.

Step 7: Hack Your Car: Next Steps

Just one hack more, buy from ikea the BASTIS hook, and glue an M10 screw in the back. Now you have a coat rack that you can use everywhere on the grid ;-)


The grid was designed to create a sort of flexibility for all kind of occasions.
There is a solution for:

  • Bikes loaded in the car
  • Working in the car
  • Sleeping in the car when the seats are installed.
  • New solution for unknown occasions...

I am more then happy to document this as well, but it will be for later.

If you like what is created then please vote for this instructables. If there are questions, remarks do not hesitate to comment I will make sure to respond fast.

After studying and trying out numerous van conversions I concluded that ultimately you should not create smart furniture but transformable furniture in order to honour the good principles of camping, one part many functions...

I got some ideas to bring this concept further in larger vans (L2H2-type) but budget is not allowing to buy one just for trying ;-)

Ideally of course we get so far as to make a movement that changes automotive industry so that we can get creative again in the vehicles we purchase ;-) I have no idea how to get started on that change!

Thank you all for reading this far,


#Vanlife Contest

Second Prize in the
#Vanlife Contest