Urban-escape Ford Transit camper van with mobile office surfs the waves and web
Tired of staring at the paper-littered wall of your off-white office cubicle? Perhaps a mobile office is the solution. At least this one is. This ultimate work/play off-grid adventure van escapes the 9-to-5, packing a multifunctional interior complete with an impressive productivity and multimedia suite centered around a foldaway office with integrated iMac. Whether it's a holiday or workday, you can cruise the city, coastline and wilderness without worrying about falling behind at work.
Having read through some of our camper van coverage, UK-based New Atlas reader Matt Clarke decided to let us know about his own home build. And we're glad he did because the 2012 Ford Transit-based conversion is quite different from the average commercial camper, designed to untether the digital nomad from the urban grid while still supporting him or her with a full connectivity suite.
As Clarke describes it, the van was created to be used as an "off-grid, surf, live and work stealth camper van," and that usage is summed up quite nicely in the picture below, showing a surfboard secured over top a compact foldaway office. The computer cabinet face drops down with the help of struts, revealing an integrated 27-in iMac work station. The storage cube below the office cabinet un-bungees from the wall to double as a desk chair, and the worktop can also be cleared of the keyboard and used as the dining table.
The van stays connected via three roof-mounted antennas: a 3G/4G MiFi antenna for connecting to the web, a 2.4/5-GHz antenna for grabbing local Wi-Fi signals from cafes, campgrounds and the like, and a TV antenna with booster. A wired-in router shares Wi-Fi across multiple devices, while the accompanying audio system mounted above the computer cabinet pairs a Pioneer receiver with Cambridge stereo speakers.
That mobile office is sure to be power-hungry, and for all those trips that don't include a shore power hookup, Clarke wired in a full electrical system with 200-watt roof-mounted solar panel and three 115-Ah batteries. An external 240V hookup allows for shore power connection, and a series of 240V and 12V outlets allow for easy plug-in of onboard equipment and accessories. Along with solar and shore power, the batteries charge off the van alternator while driving.
Next to the office and below the surfboard rack, the convertible sofa slides out via runners, creating a sleeping surface measuring roughly 76 x 48 in (193 x 122 cm). The sofa frame includes integrated storage, and a medium wardrobe behind the kitchen provides additional space for clothing and other essentials.
Moving back from the office, the neat, compact kitchen block combines a dual-burner stove, sink, Thetford Spinflo Duplex oven/grill and 80-L Dometic compressor fridge/freezer. The sink is fed by a 90-L fresh water tank and Truma boiler. Clarke also squeezed a wet bath into the rear corner, providing a shower and cassette toilet with external-access waste removal door.
The main camper floor is made from 18-mm solid oak screwed into Line-X-coated plywood over top a layer of foam insulation. The remainder of the van cabin relies on a combination of foam and rock wool insulations. The van itself is a long-wheelbase Transit powered by a 123-hp 2.2-liter diesel engine. It started its conversion life with 135,000 miles (217,250 km), and if we're to guess, it's since tacked on some serious road trip miles.
Given the rise of #vanlife and the digital nomad lifestyle, we like to see multifunctional office/road trip vans and campers, focusing not only on living and recreating but also working on the road. Such vehicles really provide what you need to ditch the standard home and office life and live and work on the road for as long as your wanderlusting heart desires. Clarke has done a nice job giving this particular conversion a fully functioning office without limiting its ability to feed, sleep, wash and play.
Clarke says he built the van out over the course of four months, initially planning it as his own personal getaway rig before changing circumstances pushed him to sell it. A lucky buyer picked it up for £15,000 (approx. US$19,350), without the iMac, which is about what Clarke put into it, not counting four months of labor. Looks like a steal from where we're sitting.