Ingenious Good Life VW camper van kit transforms with Murphy bed
Despite the innumerable Volkswagen Transporter camper vans already out there, upstarts still manage to rearrange VW's midsize van interior in ways we've never seen before. Good Life Vans' take comes in the form of a modular kit with indoor/outdoor kitchen, Murphy bed with available frame artwork, portable toilet and plenty of storage. The multifunctional van that results carries bikes to the trailhead, offers queen-size toss-and-turn space at night, and lets campers lumber out of bed for a midnight pee without having to dodge critters in the pitch-dark outdoors.
The Good Life Module One kit centers around a unique fold-and-slide bed design. During the day, the bed stays folded away neatly behind the cabin-length kitchen console. At night, it folds out in seconds to fill out the full width of the van. As the bed folds down, the driver-side console slides to the center of the van to serve as a support.
The bed's placement atop the kitchen block puts it up around the point at which the curved van sidewalls are at their widest, so Good Life is able to fit in a 63 x 78.7-in (160 x 200-cm) Froli spring-topped bed platform that's 3 inches (7.6 cm) wider than a standard residential queen and just over an inch (2.5 cm) shorter, a tradeoff an average-height duo will happily make. The 3-inch-thick (8-cm) multilayer foam mattress shares that same length but measures in just a touch narrower at 61 in (155 cm), still offering just better than queen-size elbow room.
The feat of fitting a full queen bed inside the VW Transporter becomes more impressive when one compares it to the 45 x 77-in (114 x 195-cm) folding bed in VW's own California 6.1, the 59 x 78.7-in (150 x 200-cm) bed of the simpler California Beach 6.1 with mini-kitchen, or the 43 x 75-in (110 x 190-cm) folding front bed in the Westfalia Kepler Five. And Good Life's bed is certainly more straightforward than another queen-size transformer we've seen.
During the day when folded, the bed base becomes a backsplash wall behind the kitchen. In a creative touch, Good Life offers the option of covering it with various colors and artwork, including a blown-up photo of the buyer's choice, whether from their own collection or Good Life's available photo options. In this way, the folded bed becomes a 79 x 28-in (200 x 70-cm) piece of structural artwork that spruces up the van cabin.
Good Life builds versatility into its left and right modules, giving adventurous van lifers the flexibility to adjust as weather and circumstances change. The rear of the driver-side module houses a portable dual-burner gas stove that can be used inside or pulled out for outdoor, under-tailgate use. That puts the stove at the opposite end from the 42-L fridge at the front of the module, but a clear center aisle makes it easy enough to get from one to the other, especially if the cook needs to stop off at the sink in between to wash up veggies or cooking tools.
The passenger-side module serves as a bench to complete the eat-in kitchen. It's also an extra-long storage chest that holds furniture, like the available multi-position table that attaches to the module's exterior wall to serve as an outdoor workstation or dining surface. That Lagun table also swings around to work with the swivel driver seats (sold separately) or rear bench. The frontmost passenger-side module compartment houses the portable toilet.
Good Life's two-box layout may be a little more simplistic than other camper van floor plans, but it brings a major advantage in keeping a full-length aisle open for storing bikes, surfboards and other long, large gear. Tie-down track helps drivers secure everything, and an available adapter works with the Lagun table mount to hold a bicycle steady.
The final component of the Good Life build is the base plate that secures to the van floor tie-down points to hold everything together. The company says that the adaptable design of the base means it can be installed in a variety of midsize vans. So not only does the Good Life kit create a versatile VW T5/T6.1 camper van, it transforms a full list of vans, including the Ford Transit/Tourneo, Mercedes Vito and Renault Trafic. Buyers can also pull the kit out if they want to return to a stock van interior or sell only the van while keeping the Good Life kit. So instead of losing their entire camper when the van gets to the end of the road, they lose only the base vehicle.
Good Life's versatility makes us wonder if we might see an American version. With the American camper van market finally gaining some traction, an impressive, versatile conversion like this for under US$20K seems like it could become a popular, affordable alternative to the six-figure camper vans that dominate the market. It also creates a more complete camper van than many other camper-in-a-box kits.
Most of the vans with which the Good Life One is compatible are not available in the US, but Mercedes does offers the Vito as the Metris in the States. The Ford van pictured in Good Life's materials is the Transit Custom, which is not offered in the US, but the kit's adaptability makes us wonder if it could be adjusted for other US van models.
For now, though, the Module One is a European kit that starts at €11,490 (approx. US$13,600) for the short-wheelbase version and €12,490 (US$14,750) for the long-wheelbase model. Available add-ons include an electrical system, swivel cab seats and an outside shower. As a conversion partner of Volkswagen, Good Life also sells complete, brand-new T6.1 camper vans, starting at €49,900 (US$59,000) for the most basic "Pure" model with Module One kit or €79,950 (US$94,500) for a four-sleeper Pure+ with factory pop-up roof.
Source: Good Life Vans (German)