Clever DIY pull-out extensions transform ordinary van into mini-camper (Video)

Frank Persson
© Frank Persson

The van is the quintessential practical vehicle, whether it's for hauling things, kids, pets and going on camping trips. We've already seen great DIY conversions of vans into full-time homes, as well as self-built rear kitchens for better off-road cooking. In this clever conversion by Frank Persson, a retiree from Sweden, we get a bit of both: the pull-out kitchen morphs into an actual extension that includes the rear hatch door, closing off the interior into a comfortable camper. See it transform:

Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture

Dubbed the Berlingo House, the conversion is made from a Citroën Berlingo that can transform from a ordinary-looking, road-worthy van into a full-blown camping set-up with stove, sink, tables, storage, and interior benches that convert into a bed. The Berlingo House can transform in stages: first, one opens the hatch, pulls out one side of the extension to form the "outdoor kitchen". Extra custom-made panels which close off the whole thing are progressively added, and are stored in a cargo bin on top of the van.

Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture

Then the second stage involves pulling out the other side of the extension, setting up steps and panels for the floor and door to form the "day house." The hatch forms a skylight here. Inside, upholstered panels will form sitting benches can be set up around a removable plexiglass panel that serves as a table.

Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture

For the "night house", one adds some extra supports to create an interior bed that's made with more upholstered panels. One rolls down some curtains, and voilà, a private sleeping area inside a van, with easy access to a kitchen!

Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture
Familjen Persson / YouTubeFamiljen Persson / YouTube/Video screen capture

Persson told us that he spent around 50 to 100 hours and USD $1060 on the conversion. It's mostly built with 6-millimetre plywood. He and his wife chose to go this route as mass-manufactured campers are "too clumsy and much too expensive," while vans are smaller and "flexible to drive, and cheap to buy". It only takes 5 minutes to set up, and can also be converted back to a regular van once everything is taken out. Says Persson:

The reason for me to build this camping car was that my wife and I very much like to travel round by car in Europe, and we think that camping life gives us the optimal freedom. We don't have to make reservations in advance. We don't need to have a detailed route plan, we can plan day by day.

So far, the couple has traveled to the Baltic Sea, Poland, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania, as well as touring around Sweden and enjoying a well-earned retirement. We're seeing so many different clever rebuilds, but this one in particular is a delightfully ingenious creation that shows van conversions are limited only by the imagination. More over on YouTube.

Tags: Camping | Sweden | Transportation | video

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