Here's Why You Should Never Live In A Van At The Detroit Auto Show

A few months before the Detroit Auto Show, our former boss, Matt Hardigree, told us we’d be living in vans in the auto show. “Oh, uh, sure,” I remember myself saying, thinking it was another one of his many hare-brained schemes that never comes to fruition. It turns out I was wrong. And it broke us.

Or, it broke me, at least.

Forgive my skepticism for why this would ever happen. First off, the idea is completely absurd. Not that that’s unusual in any way—we have lots of absurd ideas all the time. You lot just never hear about a lot of them, because they tend to fall apart some way or another.


“Oh, you want to turn a school bus into a submarine?” “Oh, you want to see how many SUVs you can jump in a LaFerrari?” “Oh, you want to actually live in vans in the Detroit Auto Show?”

These schemes are usually halted by a concerns from our legal department, lack of funds, a lack of brainpower, or a lack of cooperative victims, in most cases.

That’s what we expected with this one, honestly. This idea was so insane, it’d never work. Every automaker we asked about vans either didn’t have them, or wasn’t interested, but when we asked Ford they replied “How big of vans do you want?”

And so Ford kindly hooked us up with a Transit and a smaller Transit Connect. And my esteemed colleague Raphael Orlove and I lived in them for days, deep inside Detroit’s Cobo Center, all while the show took place around us.


Initially we counted on the people at the Detroit Auto Show and the Cobo Center to turn us down. Not only did they not do that, they actively encouraged our shenanigans.

And thus, we were living in vans. Reporting from vans. Sleeping in vans. Bathing in the bathrooms. They were our homes, our bases of operation for show coverage, our sources of warmth and rest. (But barely.)


See, Ford’s vans weren’t the problem. While not ideal for living spaces, they worked surprisingly well. The big Transit was positively cavernous inside, providing for three separate “rooms” which I am very definitely sure impressed everybody who saw them. The little Transit Connect was a cozy little hidey-hole away from the show, where it very definitely did not disturb everyone who had the misfortune to gaze inside it.

It was everything else that happened around us that made the situation kind horrible, from start to finish, as you’re about to see.


Now watch our descent into the deepest depths of auto show van-hell.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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Since Cobo is next to the Detroit River, you were LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!