Consumption & Production
Box Truck Conversion: 6 Interesting & Popular Examples #Vanlife!
Have you ever seen a box truck conversion?
You see box trucks on the road every day. They are chassis cab trucks with an enclosed cargo area and are a staple vehicle of suppliers and delivery services. They come in all shapes and sizes for a variety of different tasks.
Because they lack a trailer, have good fuel efficiency, and are highly maneuverable, box trucks are well adapted for last-mile delivery, delivering goods from central hubs to individual customers, and handle well on tight and congested roads.
However, businesses aren’t the only ones who realize the handiness of box trucks. The vehicle has become trendy among do-it-yourselfers who enjoy modifying them for a variety of alternative uses.
In this article, we’ll take a look at five popular and interesting box truck conversions. While Mitsubishi Fuso doesn’t endorse modifications, we recognize the freedom and creativity of vehicle owners. The popularity of modifications has led manufacturers to cater to demands for alternate uses, as you will see.
1. Box truck RV conversion
Believe it or not, box truck RVs are a thing! A simple “vanlife” Google search will bring you nearly 7.5 million results and a plethora of how-to videos.
It’s not hard to see why. Box trucks are rugged workhorses built for punishing use and are extremely durable. However, they are relatively inexpensive compared to RVs. A quick search on eBay Motors lists several options under $5,000 USD.
Perhaps one of the greatest appeals is the DIY aspect. Those blessed with an aptitude for tinkering have made some truly stunning box truck conversions!
Box truck RVs also appeal to digital nomads who consider living in a van less conspicuous than a traditional RV, especially for overnight parking.
However, one challenge with making DYI box truck conversion is that they may face insurance challenges. Providers have been known to decline coverage for self-modified vehicles.
Due to their popularity, some truck manufacturers began producing expedition vehicles.
Daimler Truck, Mitsubishi Fuso’s parent company, also responded to the demand. In China, through Mercedes-Benz Trucks, they’ve developed an RV product from a truck chassis called the Arocs series for what they describe as an “upsurge of the luxury caravan market.”
2. Mobile restaurants
Retired box trucks are also increasingly finding a second life in mobile food services. One reason is that starting a food truck business is much cheaper than a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.
One small business expert estimates the average cost of starting a food truck business to be roughly $55,000 USD. However, that amount will vary widely between country and region depending on the permits, insurance, and modifications needed to the vehicle.
Food trucks are rising in popularity and are a common site at street fairs or as roadside bistros. Accordingly, the industry grew by almost 14% from 2017 to 2022. While the pandemic impacted the business, mobility proved a key advantage over traditional restaurants since they could relocate and adjust.
American moving truck company, U-haul even featured one of their retired units converted into a mobile café on their blog.
For its part, FUSO featured a Mitsubishi Canter owner through its social media channel who converted his vehicle into a café. The kicker is that it transforms into a bar in the evening!
3. Mobile art exhibits
Online international art platform Colossal featured a curious article dedicated to a 14-foot box truck transformed into a mobile art exhibit.
Artist Caledonia Curry transformed a box truck into a diorama-style outdoor sculpture that traveled around New York. The box split open into a gorgeous representation of a house, complete with an exterior stoop, a sofa, and stairs that lead to a triangular roof.
The exhibit, titled “The House Our Families Built,” featured portraits and live performances of people in domestic scenes.
In a less extreme example, U.S.-based photographer Kevin Dowling rapidly set up a mobile art gallery with a rope, clips, and lights in the back of a moving truck. He hung prints and parked the truck in front of a popular bar with the aim of selling some of his work.
As luck (and ingenuity) would have it, he wound up selling $20,000’s worth of photographs!
4. Greenhouse box truck conversion
One box truck underwent not one, but two unique conversions. A potato chip delivery truck retired and found its second life as a mobile art gallery with large windows installed in the box. When the project ended and the vehicle went into disuse, the large windows caught the attention of agriculturalist, Justin Cutter.
He thought they would make for an ideal greenhouse. So he bought and transformed it, adding garden boxes and plants. He drove the mobile greenhouse around the country to teach at-risk youth about farming.
Agricultural company, AppHarvest, also converted a box truck into a mobile greenhouse. Using it for promotional purposes to introduce people to the company, they felt it was a unique way to educate people on the benefits of indoor farming and the possibility of bringing farming inside of cities.
5. Box truck concert hall
Two pianists, Nick Luby and Susan Zhang, launched the Concert Truck in 2016, converting a 16-foot jet black box truck into what is described as “a fully functioning mobile concert hall, complete with lights, sound system, and piano.”
The goal of the project was to make music accessible to everyone. Concert Truck has delivered musical performances in a variety of locations across America, including streets, schools, festivals, neighborhoods, and parks.
“Most people want to play in Carnegie Hall. We want to put it on wheels,” Nick says in a promo video. “We take classical music out of a hall and bring it to everyone. The Concert Truck brings people together from all walks of life over the shared experience of great music.”
6. Earthquake simulator
Japan is famous for many reasons, and earthquakes are unfortunately one of them. Japan is one of the most active seismic areas in the world.
After the great Tohoku earthquake in 2011, earthquake simulation vehicles began popping up. And they used, you guessed, box truck chassis! The idea was to allow people to experience earthquakes firsthand. These mobile simulators are able to tour around the country to promote preparedness and disaster prevention.
Did we miss any great box truck conversions? Let us know! Do you know any interesting ways to utilize trucks in creative or sustainable ways? We want to hear from you! Drop us a comment below.