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  • Nate Murphy

Max and Mona's Cosy Self-Built Fiat Ducato Van Conversion

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take our living space for granted. While van life is (quite rightly) associated with outdoor adventures, the van that you come home to is also extremely important. For Max, Mona, and their four-legged friend, the upgrade from a cramped Volkswagen Multivan California to a Fiat Ducato L3H2 couldn’t have come at a better time.

About Max and Mona

Max and Mona are German-natives, and this is where they begin all of their adventures. They are van-life novices, having previously lived in a Volkswagen Multivan. So why did they upgrade?

Well, around two years ago, Max and Mona were travelling around Albania when they were hit by a huge storm. The bad weather was forecasted to last 5 days straight, which completely sabotaged their plans. Instead of canoeing, surfing, and hiking as they planned, Max and Mona were stuck inside their little van. To make matters worse, they were accompanied by their huge pet dog.

To put it simply, Max and Mona soon realised how small their van actually was. It satisfied their basic needs, i.e. somewhere to eat and sleep, but wasn’t comfortable or cosy like a home should be. So they decided it was time to upgrade to something bigger.

After their Albanian road trip, the pair purchased a Fiat Ducato L3H2. Its huge dimensions make it a popular choice amongst full-time adventurers. The vehicle lends itself to conversions very easily.

Max and Mona have since taken a gradual approach to conversion. The initial fit-out took around one year to complete. Now, the pair are consistently upgrading the van as and when their budget allows. One of the latest additions to the van is a 180-watt solar panel, which allows them to be completely self-sufficient. In the future, they hope to add a roof rack on top of the van to store their canoes and surfboards.

Specifications

  • Fiat Ducato L3H2– This is their second van, previously they were living in a Volkswagen Multivan California. The Fiat measures 6 meters long and 2.05 meters wide.

  • 2.3-litre engine

  • 135 horsepower

Kitchen and Appliance

  • 65-litre fridge

  • Sink and tap- Their faucet is connected to a pressurised pump, which means it works like a standard household tap.

  • Steel splashback– To protect the walls of their van from splashes food debris, Max and Mona installed a steel panel in their kitchen. For added pizzazz, they decorated it by soaking it in vinegar to create an oil-spill effect.

Sleeping

  • Collapsible bed– Unlike a lot of van-lifers, Max and Mona opted for a buildable, rather than static, bed. This allows them to have more space during the day when they’re cooking, lounging and working. The bed base is formed from the dining table, which must be lowered from its standard position. From here, the couch cushions are re-arranged to form the mattress. Once complete, their bed is the size of a standard queen bed.

Power and Electrical

  • 12v system– Max says this is enough for their needs and they never struggle for electricity.

  • 180-watt solar panel– This is one of the newest additions to the van. It means that whilst they’re off-grid they can be completely self-sufficient.

Heating and Cooling

  • Water heater– This is connected to the sink and the external shower outlet. It means they can access hot water on demand.

  • Gas tank

Water System

  • 100 litre water tank

Storage

  • Wardrobe

  • Chest of drawers

  • Lockable drawers– The cupboards and doors in the van are fitted with a child-lock system. This ensures that their contents don’t fly about whilst the van is in motion.

  • Overhead cupboards

  • Leather handles– All of the cupboards in Max and Mona’s van have leather handles. This is because Max’s grandfather owns a leather factory, so the handles serve as a nice reminder of home while they’re on the road.

  • Wooden shelves – At the back of the van in the lounge area there are a few wooden shelves. These were built by Mona’s father, who is a carpenter. Much like the leather handles, Mona wanted to incorporate something familial into the van to remind her of home.

Comfort

  • Open design– Max and Mona opted for an open design with their van. That is, the front cabin is not separated from the back living space. They opted for this design as it makes the van seem bigger, and gives them greater flexibility.

  • Curtain– For privacy purposes, Max and Mona fitted a curtain rail across their front cabin. When they’re sleeping or simply want privacy, they can pull the curtain across and prevent outsiders from peering in.

Exterior

  • Garage space– When you open the double doors at the back of their van you’re greeted with a storage cupboard. The cupboard contains three pull-out drawers in which Max and Mona store their shoes, tools etc.

  • 1 x BBQ outlet– This allows them to connect an external BBQ grill to their van and use the vans gas supply.

  • 1 x shower outlet– This is connected to the vans internal water heater. It means that they can come back from long days adventuring and have a hot shower.

  • 1 x 230V outlet– If Max and Mona are parked at a camping site, they can connect their van to an external electricity supply.

Special Features

  • Heated seats– The front driver and passenger seats both feature heated seat cushions. Max and Mona splurged on this luxury as they often travel around cold climates, so they figured that heated seats would make their journeys much more enjoyable.

  • Air suspension– Max and Mona’s van is complete with air suspension, which allows the back end to be adjusted up and down to ensure that it is level. This makes all the difference when they’re parked and sleeping off-road on bumpy terrain.

  • Outside terrace– At the back of their van in the storage cupboard, Max and Mona have a pull-out deck. This serves as an additional seating area. It’s perfect to sit on while reading, snuggling the dog, or watching the sunset.


To see the full van tour, check out my YouTube channel:


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© 2019 Nate Murphy

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