Slick Spacecap fiberglass RV is peak 70s truck camping, made for today
The 1970s had their fair share of seriously regrettable design, but some fiberglass truck campers of the era still look better than anything being built today, half a century later. We thought the post-pandemic RV frenzy might bestow upon us something equalling the bold big-boaty smoothness of a classic Ford/Starcraft American Road or the neatly integrated, body-matched subtlety of a Chevy Blazer Chalet or Toyota Chinook. But instead, we continue to see the endless march of huge, over-designed and exceptionally expensive truck campers, all completely lacking that effortless 70s flair. Ohio-based startup Grumpy Bear Campers is ready to bring truck camping back to the glory days in the simplest way possible, converting commercial fiberglass pickup toppers into delightfully simple, sleek mobile abodes.
During a recent trip to a truck dealership, I should have been laser-focused on the Toyota Tundra I ended up driving off the lot that same day, but something kept clawing at the corner of my eye and distracting me. It was a stack of Spacekap Diablo commercial service bodies, glistening subtly under the loud show floor lighting. It was hard to concentrate through the endless paper trail of a truck purchase without daydreaming about one of those Diablos riding in back, converted into a capable little camper with delightful throwback looks.
We've seen one or two impressive homebuilt Diablo camper conversions floating around the internet, but Spacekap itself does not offer a camper of its own. So we were delighted when we stumbled upon Grumpy Bear. At first its Koda camper looked like a carbon copy of a Diablo, but as it turns out, Grumpy Bear starts each conversion off with an actual Diablo sent from Spacekap HQ in Quebec, benefitting from the fiberglass body construction already proven by business and industry.
Spacekap bills itself as North America's leading manufacturer of slide-in fiberglass commercial service bodies and sells the bodies as an alternative to vans. America's highly popular pickup truck market tends to evolve much more quickly than its sluggish van market, incorporating new technologies that can boost performance and efficiency and save money. And service bodies can swap from one vehicle to the next as fleet trucks age and retire.
Worth mentioning, Spacekap was founded in 1972, right back in the golden era of fiberglass truck campers.
Grumpy Bear, then, becomes a camper van converter with a different medium, a 6.5-foot (2-m) Diablo that can easily slide in and out of a truck model of the buyer's choosing. The company fills the bright-white shell out with a cozy floor plan that includes all the necessities – foam insulation behind interior paneling, two beds, a kitchen, a dining area, an indoor/outdoor toilet, a deployable shower and loads of storage.
One of the things that we've always admired about the Diablo is its short, little above-cab alcove with three-window array. While it looks great from the outside, it doesn't create quite enough room for the usual high, above-cab bed inside. Instead of taking up valuable floor space by dropping the bed down, Grumpy Bear installs an extendable double bed that slides out for a 74 x 58-in (188 x 147-cm) sleeping surface at night, pushing in out of the way during the day to keep the floor plan clear.
Below the bed on the driver's side, the longitudinal dinette centers around a table atop a telescopic base, set between two bench seats. The table drops down to seat level so the dining space can double as a small single bed at night, good for a child or dog. The dinette also packs a third function, hiding a portable toilet below the bench – not the fanciest, privatest solution, of course, but loads better than tooling around with a Pact Lite poop kit in the dead middle of an icy, pitch-dark night.
The other half of the bathroom doesn't quite fit inside, so Grumpy Bear slides it outside. A shower curtain rod attaches to the two open rear doors, hanging what appears to be a roughly 3/4-height curtain. The height pictured looks like it might be a little drafty, and perhaps not quite as private as some would prefer, but assuming they're primitive camping well away from the nearest human neighbor, it probably won't dissuade anyone from a much-needed hot shower supplied by the Excel tankless on-demand water heater.
The split-bathroom layout doesn't include a dedicated sink, but the single-burner stove/sink combo atop the passenger-side rear corner kitchen delivers easily accessible hand washing. A 79-L Dometic fridge provides food storage between the kitchen block and bed.
In terms of utilities, the Grumpy Bear comes stocked with a 100-Ah Battle Born lithium battery, 56/30-L fresh/gray water capacity and a 16,000-BTU furnace. Add-on options include an air conditioner, dual-battery system, 3,000-W inverter and solar panels.
Grumpy Bear lists Koda base weight at 1,650 lb (748 kg) and says the camper is designed exclusively for full-size pickups. It is currently accepting built-to-order reservations with a $1,000 deposit on the $36,000 Koda base price.
Source: Grumpy Bear Campers