Converting Vehicles for Fun, Profit and the Planet

Auto mechanic courses

Just because a vehicle is old, doesn’t mean it’s lost its purpose. Repurposing old vehicles gives them a new life, and can also save the owner money, help save the environment, and save the scrap yard some space. For all the automotive service technicians who’d like to begin their own auto project this summer, here’s what’s popular right now in the world of vehicle conversions.

Electric Vehicle Conversion

Given the huge emphasis today on electric and hybrid vehicles, it is no surprise that many professionals with training from mechanic colleges have taken up electric vehicle conversion. When an old gas guzzler hasn’t yet died, but the owner wants a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation, an auto mechanic can switch the gas engine for an electric version.

Of course, it’s not just that easy. The mechanic must first decide between lead or lithium batteries. Many electric conversions traditionally use lead batteries, but lithium is becoming more favourable for its light weight. A steel box is also typically installed to keep the battery secure. And, for the most difficult and costly conversion of all, the motor speed controller has to be changed to suit the new electric motor.

Truck to RV/Motorhome Conversion

It’s has been popular since the 1970s to convert old vans into campervans – but now large industrial trucks are on the market for conversion as well! Companies may ditch their trucks if they go out of business, or are overhauling their old fleet with new vehicles. This provides an opportunity for a massive conversion project for professionals who have taken auto mechanic courses. Turning an old transport truck into an RV requires installing an electric, plumbing and lighting system, beds, tables, a kitchenette and a bathroom. Some conversion mechanics have even gone so far as to install solar panels on the roof for some extra energy. Overall, the cost of a big truck conversion like this is around $200,000 – still less than what you would pay for a fully-equipped RV.

But of course we can’t exclude the ever-popular campervan. Popular base vehicles for campervan conversions are Bedford vans, Ford Transits and Volkswagen vans. Today’s campervans may be installed with:

  • An electric grill
  • Beds
  • A microwave oven
  • Television with satellite
  • An external awning

While these vehicles are not as intricately equipped as a truck-to-RV convert, they certainly are cozy, and are much easier to drive in the city.

Busses and Ambulances

Service vehicles have become a common base for auto conversions. While it can be uncommon to get a hold of an old bus, the sheer size offers an amazing opportunity to explore new innovative motorhome architecture. For a cool example of what can be done with a bus, check out the website hankboughtabus, or watch the video below:

Ambulances seem to be a little easier to find than a bus, mostly because these life-saving vehicles must be constantly replaced by top of the line models. Conversion experts suggest that the first task should be to remove the heavy and unnecessary air bag suspension system which is installed in most ambulances.

The unique rear opening doors means that the owner can be creative when designing the interior of the motorhome. To get an idea of what others have done with their ambulance conversions, take a look at this Newfoundland couple, who are bringing their ambulance motorhome on a South American journey:

What type of vehicle would you use for a conversion?

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