The Ford Crown Victoria is a legend in the car world. It’s a dirt-cheap, reliable, body-on-frame, V8 cruiser that has proven itself in damn near every environment, including the race track, golf course (?), and even off-road trails. The car’s versatility knows no bounds, a fact proven yet again by this amazing camper for sale on Craigslist.
Among the many things I love about American car culture are dirt cheap gas and a lack of rigorous safety inspections—two ingredients more-or-less required to keep this heavy, V8-powered, homemade “2008 Ford Crown Vic P71 CAMPER CAR Mini RV Conversion” in existence.
To learn more, I called the seller, a man named Al who works as a baker in Florida during the winter, and manages a bakery in Montana in the Summer. He told me he’d just built the camper this past year as a way to avoid paying for motels as he takes time off between his seasonal jobs. “I travel a lot am into camping and don’t like paying for motel rooms if I can prevent that,” he said over the phone.
He then described how he went about crafting this glorious machine, and while it definitely sounded questionable in some ways, the results speak for themselves. Look at these magical sleeping quarters:
Al said he took a sawzall to the roof and trunk lid (he noted that the Crown Vic’s body-on-frame construction allowed him to do this without affecting chassis rigidity), and removed the police cruiser’s rear window. “I did it low cost but built it extra sturdy,” he told me, saying that he had no welder and that “[the camper is] all wood on the bottom.”
“It’s screwed and glued,” he told me of the plywood shed gracing the top of this white land yacht, going on to tell me he used “poor man’s fiberglass,” which is defined on the website teardroptrailer build as:
Poor Mans Fiberglass is a process of combining an adhesive like Titebond 2 (sometimes diluted with water) or “gripper” primer that is made to help paint adhere to surfaces, Material like canvas or bed sheets, and outdoor paint. These three things combined are poor mans fiberglass.
In essence, Al told me, it’s fabric that’s glued to the wood such that the three materials become one. Over top, the baker said he used latex paint to seal everything up, and now, he told me, the Crown Vic camper doesn’t leak even a bit. (Which is more than I can say about my own cars).
Notice the 1/4" plexiglass rear window with the nicely relocated center high-mounted stop lamp. The ceiling, not shown in the photos, is apparently graced with a moonroof also made of plexiglass. There’s also apparently a plug-in AC unit for when the car is parked near a power outlet.
I asked Al what this Crown Victorian is like to sleep in. “It’s good...Any vehicle that you can stretch out fully with a comfortable mattress is a bonus,” he told me. “I’m 6'2 and I fit great in it, and sleep good in it,” he continued, before going on to say he cut a twin XL mattress to fit the bunk.
He says the car is meant to fit one or maybe two, but any more, and it’s just not the right camper. “Being so tiny, you’re restricted,” he said.
I asked how the front-engine, rear-drive sedan/camper drives on the road. “It’s not bad. It tracks good. The only thing that you notice is crosswinds on the highway that you do get a little squiggle out of,” he told me.
Though Al says he’s had project cars before, he admits he’s never done one like this. As for how he chose to convert a Crown Vic into a camper, it was pretty simple. He had lots of time and lots of Crown Vic, but not a lot of money. “I saw what I was already driving,” he told me, and then he decided to convert it instead of buying a new vehicle.
Now that it’s done, he’s decided that perhaps buying a different vehicle is the right call, since he wants to take his motorcycle with him from Florida to Montana. If he can’t sell this 153,000 mile, two-owner Crown Vic, which is listed at $3,200, he’ll keep rocking it. “[I] was planning on taking it again, but I really wanna take my motorcycle with me, so I’m looking to buy a pickup truck,” he said.
“If it doesn’t sell, I’ll take to back to Montana back to Glacier National Park and camp out on my days off.”
The Crown Vic can do it all, even Van Life.