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We take a look at adventurous campers who’ve gone above and beyond pimping their vans and created travelling homes that stay within legal boundaries.

Pimp your own van with these creative campers

Pimp my van?

The movies are full of famous vans – think the A Team, the Mystery Machine in Scooby Doo, the Mutt Cutts Van in Dumb and Dumber, or the VW Camper in Little Miss Sunshine.

In the “real world” too, vans have become something of a leisure, and novelty, item – inspired by TV programs like Pimp My Ride. It’s been over a decade now since ex-BBC Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood left screens when Pimp My Ride ceased production.

Responsible for some of the most daring, decorative, and mechanical designs the world has laid eyes on, the show, which came to life in 2004 in America, took old rust-buckets and turned them into hi-tech wagons.

Car fans tuned in to watch drastic transformations that method actors such as Christian Bale could only be proud of! 24-inch spinners, a champagne cooler, and flip-up mini-televisions were a staple addition to each and every car which rolled out the doors of West Coast Customs.  

The show may no longer be on the airwaves, but the world is still littered with body shops willing to spray vehicles any possible color and mechanics ready to fit massively oversized Eibach springs.

Unfortunately – hopefully we’re not ruining too many memories here – many of the cars featured on the show weren’t actually deemed roadworthy. That said, with the aptly named “staycation” on the rise, we’ve taken a look at some of the slightly more adventurous campers who’ve gone above and beyond pimping their rides and created travelling homes that stay within legal boundaries.

Road Racing

Having spent years on the road committed to his passion for road racing, Northern Irishman Darren Gilpin got to the stage where he’d had enough of sleeping in the back of his van. Unlike other motorbike riders who were supported by major sponsors and teams, Darren was self-funded, which meant he didn’t get a race truck or double bed.

With a few thousand pounds in the bank going into the 2013 season, he bought a dilapidated MAN horse box. Transporting his bikes to and from the race track was the priority, so he built a partition wall in the rear of the truck. In the back he built a full workshop with a tail-lift and ramp that could negotiate four full-size bikes.

In the front, Gilpin built one double bed on the ground, two-fold singles which fell from the ceiling, a full kitchen, and the piece de resistance: a fully stocked bar complete with various optics. Hey Darren: don’t forget to ensure the camping gas cylinder is full if your baked beans are going to be eaten warm!


Many living in the hustle & bustle of modern life never take the time to sit back and indulge in everything the world offers us – particularly the night sky. In most instances due to light pollution, we simply cannot do this. Bill & Beck Goddard are here to provide you with that opportunity.

The Goddards, who reside in Herefordshire, UK, combined their love for textiles and woodwork, developing numerous campervans – and they’ll do the same for you if you want to get away from it all and travel.

One of the Goddards’ recent stand-out projects is a Mercedes Sprinter which has been completely renovated. Taking a shell, they fitted various storage spaces, a full oven, space for four sleepers, and an awning. Pick your spot in the country, kick back, and simply enjoy your surroundings, stargazing the night away.


Quite unlike anything else you will see, the Peugeot Boxer is just one van by Quirky Campers that exists as a simply breathtaking piece of art. The designers describe the 2013 van as “having just stepped out of a fairytale”.

Complete with a full-sized wood burner, you’ll never have to be concerned about a chilly night. Originally renting out their van Bella, when they volunteered in Africa, husband-and-wife team David & Lindsay managed to create a collective of staycation delights right through the UK, including options available for Glastonbury Festival.

Going it alone

The few examples above are just a pick of some of the ideas created in the UK to assist your staycation journey, whether it be designing a campervan for you or simply renting you one.

However, that’s not to say you couldn’t do it yourself. Take inspiration from travel enthusiasts Katie and Ben who built their dream camper in a week. The couple, despite being on a budget, still managed to add all the necessities required. Katie notes how “Luxury wasn’t present, but we had everything we needed – it was cute, functional, and comfortable.”

The staycay can be done today – you just need to decide which way you’re going to sway.

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