Introduction: Roof Top Car Camper

About: I love design, tinkering and making.

A fold able camper that attaches like a roof rack.

Step 1: Parts

I made this project a long time ago (before digital cameras) therefore I do not have any step by step pictures. I will try to make up for it with my descriptions.
What you will need:
The really hard parts to find:
2 fiberglass roof top shells from a Volkswagen Westfalia (Caravan for the UKrs) (They used to be fairly easy to find at the wreck yards I got mine for $30 a piece)
2 pop up spring bars from a VW Westfalia (They are the 2 pieces that hold up the roof top and then fold in half to close it)
2 slide hinges from a VW Westfalia (They are the crossbars that slide the roof top open in the front)
1 Canvas set form a VW Westfalia (The fabric that goes around the roof when it's open)
Other easier to find parts:
1/4" plywood for the oval back
extra canvas for the entrance
long zippers for the entrance
latch lock to lock the back when closed
piece of sheet aluminum for the front
4 pieces of metal bars to re-enforce the bottom fiberglass shell
1 pair sturdy roof rack
4 u-bolts to tie the whole thing down to the roof rack
closed cell foam padding for sleep surface
glues, canvas needle and thread, nuts and bolts

Step 2: Assembly

- 1 of the fiberglass tops has to be lowered on all sides by about 4" (This is so that the 2 roof tops will close into each other neatly) (I used a skill saw to cut off the sides)
- attach the 2 front hinges to the existing holes that are already there
- attach the 2 back folding uprights to the original holes at the top, on the bottom you will have to attach them at 90degrees and drill new holes (now you have your basic shell structure)
- close the shell and flip it upside down
- attach the reinforcing bars running lengthwise (this is to add rigidity to the bottom shell)
- align the roof rack to how you want it to sit (I spaced it evenly to distribute the weight)
- drill holes through the reinforcing bars and the bottom shell for the 4 u-bolts (it is critical that the u-bolts go through the fiberglass bottom shell, the reinforcing bars and joint the roof rack, this gives a lot of strength to the whole works)
- flip the works right side up, make a paper outline of the back hole while the 2 shells are closed, transfer it to the 1/4" plywood
- cut the back plywood and attach it to the top shell with 3 bolts
- open up the camper, attach the canvas with staples, put in the back zippers and door canvas
- up front attach a piece of aluminum sheeting to cover the front
- attach the lock to the plywood and bottom shell for security
- measure, cut, and glue down foam pieces to the bottom shell
- put on car, throw in some sleeping bags and pillows and you're ready for the mountains

Step 3: Final Notes

The reasons I made this camper:
- I was tired of setting up my tent at night while it's raining taking anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, and sleeping on hard rocky ground
- The camper sets up in 30 seconds, is mostly waterproof
- oh yeah, and the bears have a much harder time getting in
- I'm not ready for a motor home/big camper trailer
- storage is easy, 2 pulleys attached to my garage ceiling joists and 2 people taking the unit off in 5 minutes, it hangs there when not in use

After additions:
- added a small ladder for easy of getting in and out
- added ceiling padding for warmth and cut down on the condensation
- a small LED light powered by car battery
- 2 vent holes at top to cut down on the condensation
- car bra on front of camper to hide the ugly aluminum sheet

I know this instructable lacks good "while making" pictures and that it isn't as detailed as I would like it to be. If you are seriously considering making this project I can guide you with further details. Before I decided to do this I was considering buying a roof top tent made in Italy for $5000 U.S., but because the sale representative was an arse I decide to make my own for about $300 Cdn.. This style of camper is used in expeditions that go into hostile environments and are on off road vehicles.
And yes it's quite comfortable to sleep in for 2 people as the hot woman I live with (wife) can attest to.