January 13

5 Awesome Vehicle Upcycles You Have to See to Believe


Upcycling is all the rage in interior design, landscaping, and sometimes, even in fashion. Visionaries are taking existing pieces and repurposing them into something new.

Today, many people are getting in on the refurbishing trend by taking salvage pieces or entire old vehicles and repurposing them by giving them a completely new look and life.

Here are 5 unique vehicle conversions that take upcycling to a new level.

1. A School Bus Into a Mobile Cabin

If you’re going to convert any type of used vehicle, an old school bus is an awesome canvas to start with. That’s what Hank Butitta chose to begin his final dissertation project. He succeeded in converting a school bus into his very own mobile cabin.

Butitta set out with a creative vision and a $3,000 retired school bus. He gutted the inside and replaced the seats with a simple, modular interior that acted as a compartmented living space. He then created dedicated bathroom and kitchen areas. Butitta also set up two other spaces that can be reconfigured depending on the number of people on board.

In the seating area, tables and chairs can be set up for eating. When this space is not needed, they can be folded away. Overnight guests can be accommodated in the same space as the table also converts into a queen bed.

The main sleeping area is at the rear of the bus, which also has varying setup options. Guests can sleep on two twin beds or push the beds together to expand into a queen. While this space is great as a small cabin, it’s also still completely operational as a vehicle and transports Butitta and his friends around the country.

2. An REO Speedwagon Into a Pizza Food Truck

Restaurants and food truck connoisseurs are standing out and taking their industry by storm as they repurpose vintage vehicles and convert them into incredible mobile food trucks and catering businesses. Classic vehicle conversions give these foodies a new type of brand identity and electrifying differentiation among their competitors.

One such company is Nomad Pizza, a pizza chain based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They’ve put their catering business on the radar with a stunning refurbishment of a 1940s REO Speedwagon as their mobile pizza truck.

At the heart of the truck is a classic wood-burning brick pizza oven that churns out fresh, organic Neapolitan-style pizza. Nomad also installed professional-grade restaurant equipment in the truck, including a refrigerator, two sinks, a hot water system, prep tables, and more. Today, the truck is the centerpiece of their thriving catering business.


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3. A Mass Transit Vehicle Into a Mobile Tech Classroom

City buses also make great vehicle conversion projects, which is exactly what Alex Jacobson and Ryan Kalb discovered when they purchased a mass transit bus for an ambitious project. Jacobson and Kalb, both computer and electrical engineering students at Oregon State University, agreed on an idea to convert a city bus into a mobile tech classroom.

Thanks to the spacious nature of city buses, the team has a ton of options on how best to equip their mobile classroom. Jacobson and Kalb started their project by removing all traces of the bus’s seating and former life from its interior, creating a fresh, blank canvas. They’ve been working on adding components to their mobile tech classroom, like video screens, monitors, and networking capabilities.

They initially began the project to help promote education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or STEM – fields. The idea is that with a mobile tech classroom, the team can bring digital resources to schools and districts that may not have the supplies or capabilities to further their students’ tech skills. When complete, the bus will bring learning for the 21st century to schools all throughout Oregon.

STEM bus
To learn more about Project M.E.L., follow them on Facebook.

4. An Ambulance Into a Travel Camper

Their dream of creating a travel camper with a unique, vintage look became a reality when the Lindner family bought an old ambulance on eBay. After completely stripping the truck of its original interior, the Lindners went to work, creating a living space they could take with them on the road.

The vehicle’s classic 1960’s-style exterior was preserved and incorporated into the completed camper van’s interior furnishings. Chic white paneling was installed throughout the inside of the van, giving the living space a fresh look.

Seating benches in natural wood and pale blue were added to accommodate the family’s 4 children. Thanks to the van’s former working life as an ambulance, there is plenty of room for adults to move around inside the living quarters.

The family plans to take their new rig to various caravan parks throughout the UK.


5. A Fire Truck to a Rugged RV

Off-roading enthusiast Jan van Haandel was searching for a way to exercise his passion for adventure with a recreational vehicle or mobile home. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he decided to create it. His solution? He purchased an old fire truck in his native Netherlands and began an ambitious project to design a perfect off-roading RV.

The truck had plenty of space and unlimited potential for an interesting vehicle upcycle project. Van Haandel started by removing the truck box and replacing it with one of his own design. He then added a bathroom, a water system, a working kitchen, a dining area, an entertainment center, and a sleeping space.

Once his truck conversion was done, he could finally satisfy his craving for comfortable off-roading with his one-of-a-kind RV.

A vehicle upcycle project is a great way to show off your imagination and take your ideas to the next level. All you need is a vision and a solid, working used vehicle to get started on making your dreams come true.


ambulance, bus, fire truck, refurbish

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