A white picket fence and pristine front lawn are many people’s idea of paradise. But while the stability of a suburban home is nice, some crave adventure and creative problem-solving. That could be why Steph and Sarah decided to ditch their neighborhood in favor of this 2003 Ford E-550 shuttle bus, converted to a luxury motorhome on wheels and taking house power from batteries repurposed from a Nissan Leaf electric car. While much more spacious than the Versa "RV" we saw recently, it's still interesting to see compact Nissan ingredients in such a large machine.
“One day we were walking our dogs, in our cookie-cutter house in our cookie-cutter neighborhood,” Sarah says. “Stephanie had just quit her job and I had just lost my job … and here we were, two people just living the dream unemployed in America. And we just said maybe we need to do something else, something different.”
From that newfound flexibility, the couple decided to convert a bus. After sleeping on the idea for two weeks, Steph and Sarah found a medium-duty Ford E-Series airport shuttle and set about creating their dream home.
Although the build was only supposed to take three months, it ended up lasting eleven. However, the end result is stunning. The RV boasts many unique features, including an ultra-compact woodburning stove that reportedly heats the space up quite nicely, as well as a denatured-alcohol marine stove burner. There’s an indoor marine toilet and a deployable outdoor shower, as well as a spacious deck stretching out behind the bus. Rooftop solar panels on the Ford help keep the four-in-series and two-in-parallel Nissan Leaf batteries charged.
As with any small living space, storage solutions were key, and Steph and Sarah’s design has them in spades. The toe-kick underneath the counters slides out, and just about every overhead panel has a storage binnacle in it. Even the television tucks away into the built-in desk, rising at the push of a button.
It helps that the clever problem-solving is hidden within a design that is stylish, modern, and luxurious. A teak countertop lends a very sophisticated air to the motorhome, with coordinating wood accents found throughout the space. The roof beams are wrapped in leather to hide the joints, likewise the grasscloth wallpaper on the plywood ceiling. The interior sports attractive reclaimed wood. Copper hardware and fixtures tie the whole thing together very nicely. It's not the only updated Ford E-Series out there, but it certainly is one of the most luxurious.
Gallery: Ford E-550 Shuttle Van Camper
Now, the couple travels through the US, using their campervan as a home base. Not only does it enable travel, but the big Ford is also the mobile office for Project Blue, an initiative that Stephanie and Sarah run to facilitate productive conversations surrounding mental health. It’s a job they take very seriously, and it makes them appreciate their comfortable, custom RV even more.