Converted Ambulance Becomes One Man's Traveling Home-On-Wheels (Video)

Exterior of an ambulance converted into an RV
Ian Dow

Many of us are becoming familiar with van conversions these days: these tricked-out homes-on-wheels that are often done in high-top Sprinter or Ford vans that allow you to stand up tall in them. Heck, we've even seen impressive conversions of regular vans too.

But perhaps the most out-of-the-box conversion out them all might be the one by life-long travel enthusiast Ian Dow, who recently transformed an ambulance into a gorgeous home. Here's a quick video tour showing how brilliantly it's been done:

View inside the ambulance showing counter and storage space
Ian Dow

The Inspiration for the Project

As he tells ABC, Dow's story of how he decided to go with an old life-saving vehicle is a pretty serendipitous one:

I’d been searching for a van to convert and was blinded by the Sprinter fad. After getting burned by a Craigslist seller — he backed out after I drove 12 hours to buy his Sprinter — I was depressed and I crashed my motorcycle. Then I had an epiphany. I was in pain and needed some emergency help. Sitting on the couch that night with a busted shoulder, I searched eBay for ambulances, found a cheap one, and even Google Earthed the charity listed as the seller, finding the ambulance parked right outside.

Dow paid USD $2,800 for the 1994 Ford E350 Dually Type ll Osage ambulance, a bargain considering used Sprinter vans can cost much, much more just for the shell itself.

The ambulance RV parked at an overlook
Ian Dow
View out the open side door of the ambulance, overlooking a canyon
Ian Dow 
Ambulance driving down sandy path between two bodies of water
Ian Dow

The Layout of the Ambulance Home

By not buying a Sprinter van, Dow was then able to spend more money instead on kitting out the ambulance's interiors, which includes a cleverly designed seating area that can transform into a bed, or workspace, or an L-shaped sofa. There are teak floors, durable wooden surfaces, and a space-efficient, tile-lined kitchenette in one corner with a stove, sink, magnetic knife holder, pull-out cutting boards and a trash porthole. There is plenty of storage and fold-out furniture all over the inside, and there's even an indoor surfboard rack to hold Dow's gear.

Interior view of ambulance RV with man relaxing in the back
Ian Dow
Dog sleeping on back bench in the RV
Ian Dow

Outside, on "Ambi's" rear is a rack to store Dow's motorcycle, and on top, there's place for an umbrella and to pitch a tent under the stars.

Astroturf top on the RV with a tent pitched on the back
Ian Dow
Split view of exterior and interior of the RV
Ian Dow
RV parked outside at night under a starry sky
Ian Dow

The conversion has brought out the best in Dow's adventurous spirit, allowing him to see new sights, travel with kindred spirits (including his dog, Dino) and meet new people. The build-out has challenged him on many fronts: he's learned how to do his own mechanical work, lock-smithing, woodworking, metalworking, electrical work and even sewing his own upholstery.

As Dow notes, one of the few drawbacks to the ambulance conversion is that it is heavy and therefore it can't go too far off the beaten track, but that's why he has a motorcycle. So far, Dow has travelled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala in his ambulance home, and has plans to continue further afield. To see more, visit Ian Dow's YouTube and Instagram.