9 Amazing Step Van Conversions for Van Life
Considering a Step Van Conversion for Van Life?
With tons of interior space and affordable pricing, step vans are a good option.
But which step van is best? And what are the downsides of converting a step van?
In this post, we’ll find out.
9 Amazing Step Van Conversions
With square walls, plenty of overhead room, & tons of living space, step vans provide a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?
Here are 9 of the coolest step van conversions ever:
#9: Step Van Build with Shower, Large Fridge, and Custom Roof Rack
- Highlights: This DIY step van build has a large cozy bed in the back, and a small kitchenette complete with a full stove and oven, a sink, and a large 12 van fridge. The owners installed a custom roof rack on top for storage and to mount solar panels.
- Van: 1989 Grumman Olson Kurbmaster
- Owner: @_adventuregalley_
#8: No-Build Step Van Conversion with Custom Painted Exterior
- Highlights: This simple step van conversion has a couch that slides out into a bed, across from some desk space and a kitchen area with a sink. Simple plastic storage bins are used for organization throughout. The owner custom-painted the exterior of the van.
- Van: Chevrolet Step Van
- Owner: @tashtmblweed
#7: Professional Vintage Step Van Conversion
- Highlights: This 60’s Chevy milk truck has had a total makeover. Inside, it has storage cabinets, a crate fridge, and a versatile convertible bed. The kitchen slides out from under the bed at the rear, and comes with a sink, stove, and storage.
- Van: 1965 Chevrolet Step Van
- Owner: @captain.camper
#6: Two-Level Boho Step Van Conversion with Stained Glass Windows
- Highlights: This non-mobile tiny home bread truck conversion has two separate floors. The bottom is a living area with a couch, kitchen, and fireplace. The top floor has a bedroom. The whole van is decorated with gorgeous stained glass windows and a custom door.
- Van: Step Van
- Owner: @roadhomepdx (more photos at hipcamp.com)
#5: Step Van Build with Rear Bed, Couch, and Bathroom
- Highlights: This gorgeous DIY step van build has a rear bed below a skylight. In front of the bed are a couch and a slide-out table, across from the kitchen area. The front of the van build has a toilet and shower.
- Van: Tool Truck Step Van
- Owner: @_gypsyblood_
#4: Simple Step Van Build with Three Bed Modes and an Awning
- Highlights: This step van build has a creative three-mode bed system. It can be set up as a flat daybed, a couch, or a queen-sized bed. Across from the bed is some overhead cabinetry, and the front of the campervan has a small kitchenette. Outside, you’ll find a roll out van awning for more outdoor space.
- Van: 1990 Chevrolet P30
- Owner: @greenie_machine
#3: Bread Truck Conversion with Dinette and Aluminum-Walled Shower
- Highlights: This practical bread truck revamp has a one-wall kitchen with lots of cabinetry, a sink, and room for a camp stove. Across from the kitchenette is a small dinette or workspace. The gorgeous wet bath has aluminum walls and wood slats over the drain.
- Van: 1989 GMC P30
- Owner: @breadtrucker
#2: Step Van Camper with Rear Twin Bed and Hidden Toilet
- Highlights: This step van build has a small rear bed behind a booth and slide-out table. The front has a corner kitchen with counter space and a stovetop. One bench seat lifts up to reveal a toilet underneath.
- Van: 1990 GMC Gruman Olson Step Van
- Owner: @sylvansecrets
#1: Step Van with Huge Countertops and Hanging Bunk Bed
- Highlights: This gorgeous red and white step van is home to a single mother and her daughter. The rear has a lower bed below a hanging bunk bed. The kitchen area has tons of countertop space and a sink.
- Van: 1985 GMC Step Van
- Owner: @thewilderdiary
10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like Step Vans
Step vans are unique, affordable, and spacious – but are they the best option for vanlife?
Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like converting step vans:
- Inexpensive: Compared to box trucks and ambulances, used step vans are a bit less pricey. Most go for around $20,000, but you can find them for as low as $5,000.
- Reliable Engine: Step vans have pretty beefy engines that are designed to last a long time.
- Better Fuel Economy Than You’d Think: Compared to the size of the vehicle, the fuel economy of around 12-15 MPG isn’t all that bad.
- Room for all the Amenities you Need: Tons of interior room inside of a step van means that you’ll have room for a large bed, full kitchen, desk, couch, bathroom, plus whatever else you need.
- Ability to Tow: These strong engines mean you have the ability to tow. You can tow a smaller vehicle, or a trailer for extra storage.
- Great Vintage Options: There are a good amount of ‘60s Chevy P30 step vans on the market. You may need to rebuild the engine, but these older step vans look really cool.
- You can Stand up Inside: Step vans are designed so you can stand up inside. Unlike a smaller van, you won’t have to do any crouching.
- One-of-a-Kind: In a world full of Sprinters and Ford Transits, you can be sure that your converted step van will be completely unique.
- Custom Doors and Windows: Because you can easily sew into the side paneling of a step van, you can pretty much install any doors and windows you want.
- Usually Come Stripped: Unlike skoolie or ambulance conversions, a lot of step vans come totally empty inside, which means you won’t have to do much demo work before you start your build.
6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Step Van Conversions
As with every vehicle, there are downsides to converting a step van.
Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike step vans:
- Slow: Step vans aren’t made for freeway driving, so don’t expect to consistently be able to drive over 60 MPG.
- Not Great for Long Distances: Step vans are designed for short trips around an urban area, going on long road trips can put a lot of wear and tear on the engines.
- Complicated to Insure: Explaining a step van conversion to your insurance company can be pretty complicated, though, it is possible.
- Difficult to Convert: Because there’s so much room inside, conversions can be pretty difficult. These aren’t ideal projects for first-time builders.
- Loud: Step vans can be super loud inside, especially at high speeds.
Older step vans have issues: Some step vans you’ll see on the market are from the ‘60s or ‘70s. Expect to do quite a bit of engine maintenance on older step vans.
- May be Difficult to Repair: It can be difficult to find a mechanic that is super familiar with step van engines. Be prepared to do a good amount of DIY engine maintenance.
Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy
Step Van Cost
Cost: Step Van vs Box Truck vs Ambulance
|Step Van||$65,000||$21,000||Check Price|
|Box Truck||$47,000||$36,000||Check Price|
Step Van Dimensions
Dimensions: Step Van vs Box Truck vs Ambulance
|Model||Interior Height||Interior Length (cargo)||Interior Width||Ext Length|
|GMC/Chevy P30 Step Van||81 inches||146 inches||74 inches||285 inches|
|Chevy P10 Step van||76 inches||89 inches||72 inches||166 inches|
Step Van Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy: Step Van vs Box Truck vs Ambulance
|GMC/Chevy P30 Step Van||9 MPG||12 MPG||10 MPG|
|Chevy P10 Step Van||13 MPG||15 MPG||14 MPG|
Conclusion: Is a Step Van Right for you?
There are a lot of reasons to like step vans, they’re spacious, super unique, and have huge potential for cool builds – but they may not be right for you.
- Interior Space
- Not Great for Long Distances
So should you get one?
Maybe! We’d recommend step vans for vanlifers who don’t plan on traveling long distances and prioritize space over mobility. Step vans are a great option because they offer maximal space while still being cheaper than box trucks or ambulances.