The Stealth Van Studio Project

Halfway through 2010 I became obsessed with the idea of building a stealth van: something I could camp anywhere in, and also compose music in, without people knowing about it. I found a number of people who’ve built stealth vans to camp in, but havent found one with an inbuilt recording studio yet!

There were a number of reasons for it, but I dont feel like I should make them public. Suffice it to say that I dont mind doing things a little differently, and I love a good project to soak up some creative energy that otherwise builds up and sends me bonkers.

So, first I did hours and hours of obsessive research. Then I saved a bunch of cash. Then I bought a van. Initially i was going to get a Ford Transit, and got so far as to test drive one. But Im damn glad I didnt: instead I got something smaller and more manageable:

a Toyota Hiace, the Unkillable Donkey of the van world!

Now when I do a project I do things properly. Sometimes this is to my detriment, and I spend hours obsessing over it. But I did end up with a bloody nice van, something Im proud of, and I want to show you how you can do the same.

In a way, all that effort of research and head scratching, measuring 5 times, cutting three times, and binning two, wont go to waste if a few extra people can make use of my ideas too!

So the rest of this entry is going to take the form of a step by step,

How to build a Stealth Van with Facilities for Day to Day Living and Music Producing

A Teaser...

Now there are a number of steps to the project

Buying the Right Van

Preparing the Back



The Fold Out Bed



Other Tips

For those who just want to see the finished product, scroll down and just gloss over all my hard work, no worries!

1) Buying the Right Van

Now, one thing you will need is money. Not a lot, but get some together. Get a job as an archaeologist and get paid sweet FA while alternately sweating in the desert and staring at a computer screen, is the route I chose, but the specifics are up to you.

Once you have some coin saved up, its time to go test drivin. The only real option here is a white windowless van. They are inexpensive, roomy enough in the back, and most importantly they are a very common sight on almost any street, as they’re used by all kinds of tradespeople and other businesses. Having no windows means that you can sleep, make love, or compose music undisturbed when in your van. It is also a major plus in van security. And when you want a more open feel, you can just open the back door, preferably when facing the ocean or similarly awesome view.

There a many different makes: Mitsubishis, Mazdas, even Mercedes, but I went with a Toyota for reliability. These have by far the best reputation among the Japanese vans, and you don’t pay much extra for one. Also, I like the look a little more than the others!

You have the choice between short or long wheel base models. Mine was advertised as a LWB, but unfortunatley I think it is only a SWB. However, the point is, you can get away with even the short wheel base, it just means you spend a little less on materials, and have to keep things a tiny bit more minimal, not a bad thing at all.

Desirable features are:

-low mileage
-good tyres
-no oil leaks
-not too noisy
-and you should like the feel of how it drives

I picked up my Toyota Hiace for less than $5000 AUD, and its going strong.


Stay tuned to see how I did the rest of the Stealth Van project!


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