While searching for this week’s Dopest Cars finds I came across a creation that made me drop my jaw and rub my eyes. Once I confirmed that my vision was indeed functional, I clicked on the ad and flipped through the pictures. This 1999 Ford E-450 for sale started life as a box truck, but now it’s a tall cabin that actually looks pretty cozy.
Former commercial vehicles are my favorite kind of custom RV builds. They touch on reusing a vehicle that might otherwise have been disposed and they let the builder’s creativity run wild. Some of these are box trucks that get turned campers that still look like a box truck outside. Others, like this 1999 Ford E-450, toss the cargo box for something completely custom.
According to the ad, the vehicle was built by Carpenter Owl, a company out of Bloomington, Indiana that makes tiny houses. It’s called Concert Car and would have served as both a show home and tiny concert venue had it not been for the pandemic. The seller also calls it an RV and it’s registered as such.
The living space bolted onto the back is said to be constructed of a mix of wood and metal with sheep wool insulation in the floor, walls and ceiling:
The floor box and ceiling are framed with 2x6s and the walls with 2x4s. The walls were designed with a rain screen system consisting of Blockit house wrap, cedar purlins, and poplar tongue and groove siding. The rafters were cut from 2x12s to create the curved ceiling and arched roof. The roof is made of 12 gauge galvalume sheet metal laid over 1/4 “ ply topped with Grace’s Ice and Water Shield rubber membrane.
Its interior is a similar story with a variety surfaces consisting of white pine, elm, maple, cedar, poplar and walnut. The Concert Car seems to have most of the necessities with a kitchenette featuring a sink, stove, toaster oven and refrigerator. It also has a bathroom with a soaking tub and composting toilet.
As a home or RV there really isn’t much space for people to sleep. It has a loft with a bed for two and that’s about it. The rest of the space is used for a sitting room and for the concert stage.
Oh yeah, you can open the curtains in the kitchen and remove several of the boards from the loft to make a small concert stage with a seating capacity of 20 people. Concert Car was built in part so that artists could have small performances.
This rig is probably not that great of a choice for cross-country travel. If you’ve driven an old E-450 van you know that these sort of suck to drive for too long. There’s a 7.3-liter Ford Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 under the hood, and fuel economy will be squarely in the mid-teens, if not lower. But for local camping trips or something to park on some land for the summer?
It looks so cozy. I could see myself curling up in one of those chairs reading a book, covered in a blanket.
The other downside is the price. For the asking price of $80,000 there are multitudes of other RVs or even tiny houses out there. You could get an older Prevost coach, or that school bus with a rooftop fire pit. Still, it would be pretty cool to have this as something to spend the weekend in.