Ursa Minor pops the top on the Ford Transit Connect to create versatile mini-campervan
A number of new and established camper van conversion companies are passing right over large, popular vans like the Mercedes Sprinter and Fiat Ducato/Ram Promaster and working with small vans like the Nissan NV200 and Ram Promaster City. Ursa Minor Vehicles brings its expertise in building pop-up roofs for the likes of the Honda Element and Jeep Wrangler to this lively mini-campervan space. Its pop-top Ford Transit Connect weekends as a cruisy two-sleeper made to roam highways, cities, mountains, coasts, and everywhere in between. Close the pop-top and unload the camping gear, and it turns into an everyday driver with seats for up to seven people.
Ursa Minor has developed its first Transit Connect pop-up for the 190-in (482-cm) long-wheelbase Passenger Wagon, which is just longer than the other mini-campervan we looked at this week, the 187-in (475-cm) Ram Promaster City Cascade Camper. The long-wheelbase Connect is still shorter than the all-time reigning champion of camper van conversions, the Volkswagen Transporter, which measures 193 inches (490 cm) long in modern short-wheelbase form.
Long wheelbase or not, the Transit Connect wagon makes for a compact camper van. The Passenger Wagon also makes for a versatile multipurpose van, carrying six or seven people, depending on configuration. Its rear seats fold completely flat to create an 85-in (216 cm)-long load floor.
Ursa Minor takes advantage of the Transit Connect's compact, versatile build in making an adventurous mini-campervan. Its specialty is pop-up roofs, not full interior conversions, so its Transit Connect package isn't a fully equipped motorhome, lacking amenities like kitchen equipment and cabinetry. But it does include the roof bed, so buyers drive off Ursa's lot with a van that can shelter and sleep two comfortably.
The strut-assisted pop-top opens up 6.5 feet (2 m) of standing room over top the folded seats and packs in a 48 x 84-in (122 x 176 cm) double mattress surrounded by water-resistant, breathable Sunbrella canvas. Zippered window screens on all sides keep the air circulating and views of the landscape wide open. Ursa Minor completes the package with low-current interior LED lighting wired to the van battery.
After rolling out of Ursa Minor's shop in their pop-top Transit Connect, buyers can keep it a simple overnight adventure van and hit the road, load it up with loose cooking and camping gear, or perhaps seek out a fuller camper conversion below the pop-up roof. And remember that flat, 85-in load floor? That's longer than Ursa's 7-foot bed. With nearly 4 feet (122 cm) of width between the wheel wells, you could throw a mattress or pair of inflatable pads down and make the Ursa Minor a four-sleeper with little effort at all.
Ursa Minor's composite roof design includes a wind deflector up front for minimizing wind noise and cutting fuel consumption increases to nil. The design also looks pretty cool, and in our opinion, gives the Transit Connect a little extra edge over the stock roof. A surfy paint job and roof rack with surfboard help, too.
Ursa Minor offers its conversion on 2nd-generation (2014+) long-wheelbase Transit Connect Passenger Wagon XL, XLT and Titanium models with standard roofs, not the sunroof offered on the Titanium trim. Prices start at $6,400, including installation, and Ursa Minor has shops in both San Diego and Portland, Oregon. It keeps its conversion simple but offers a few optional add-ons, such as paint to match (or contrast) the base van, a 60-watt solar panel, roof rack systems, and USB or 12V outlets. It also plans to launch a rear vehicle-attached tent and modular storage system early next year.
The first Transit Connect to meet the world was dressed up for Backpacker magazine's 2018 "Get Out More Tour." Ursa Minor then launched the kit more officially in July and showed a van at the SEMA Show, which wrapped up earlier this month. The company is also busy reworking its Wrangler pop-top kit around the all-new JL Wrangler and plans to have it ready in the near future.
Source: Ursa Minor