Building the Dream Machine: Converting A Car into a House

To spend the summer by the sea/in the woods/free as a bird, you need a house that is mobile.

In the past my road home has usually been a backpack…

Living out of a backpack makes you feel both cool and confused, embodied well in this photo.




Occasionally it has been a bicycle…

I bought this bike for $50 and strapped my backpack to the provided rack with a bungee cord. Unsurprisingly, I got about 3 flat tires a day. Fixed for 10 cents in whichever village I was in.




For this trip, I wanted a car I could sleep in. Mostly so in unpredictable northern BC I could pull into any random roadside and crash for the night with no fear of strangers opening up the fly of my tent (I may have been reading a lot of crime books recently…).

SO! Time to buy a car. My enterprising dad found one used for cheap (he has a knack for these things). Bought it at 8pm on a Friday and left for a festival 5 hours away that very night! Arrived at 1am, rolled my mat into the backseat and I was all set. The backseat is exactly the length of my body from head to toe!


A rolled out mat with the seats folded down was not good enough for my big brother’s little sister though. My brother, a genius carpenter, outfitted the back with a folding bed that fits 3 giant totes beneath it, but folds up to keep a useable backseat if needed. (read the photo captions for more info or message me if you want details to build it yourself!)



To sleep in it, I have 2 options:

If I feel safe and secluded, open all the windows and sleep under the stars without bugs getting in! I bought a magnet door screen for this – it is exactly the width of the windows, and comes pre cut in two pieces for each side of the car. I use a set of earth magnets (I already had them, you could use any magnets) to hold it onto the car with more strength than the cheap ones that come with it. This screen rolls up tiny for storage beside the seats and is unrolled and slapped on in 10 seconds! (gotta be quick before the mosquitoes get in!)

My brother, sister-in-law and dad (not pictured) figure out how to put on my bikerack.

If I feel more sketched out (at any random roadside stop, for example), I can go ultra-stealth mode with full window coverage. This has the added bonus of full light blocking, for sleeping in brightly lit rest areas, and of insulating so I am always perfect temperature. I bought reflective insulation stuff for $1/foot from Rona and cut it to fit.

Plus it looks like a space car.

I easily fit everything I need in there, and the sleep is great! I’ve driven about 3000 km so far and it’s been a dream. Freedom on wheels!



One Comment Add yours

  1. Nice I’m thinking of doing the same in a couple of months around Australia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s