Perhaps it’s thanks to Instagram or maybe it’s because millennials now make up the largest generation of campers, but #VanLife is hotter than ever. You can’t drive down a mountain road in Colorado, Utah, or Oregon without admiring camper vans both big and small. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
But within the camper van craze, you’ll usually see three major types of vans: the Mercedes Sprinter, the Ram ProMaster, and the Ford Transit. Other vans are out there, of course, but these three dominate both DIY builds and custom conversions. That’s why the latest van to cross our desk is so striking.
Seattle-based Rydawell Woodworks is a design-build shop that uses carpentry skills to create custom vans, built-ins, and cabinetry. We’ve covered some of their vans in the past—like this van with foldaway furniture and another with a Japanese-inspired Shoji screen—and their most recent conversion of a Mitsubishi Delica is extremely unique.
Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has been making the Delica since 1968. Originally based on a cabover van and pickup truck, the van was never sold on the US market. Over the years, the Delica has developed something of a cult status, revered for its four-wheel drive (first introduced in 1982), durability, and the ability to work both as a gear hauler and daily driver. It’s still a rare vehicle to see on U.S. roads, but the Delica is becoming more common now that it can be imported under the 25-year import rule.
A client approached Rydawell Woodworks with the goal of building out their 1993 Mitsubishi Delica 4×4. As the third generation Delica known as the Star Wagon, the van had been imported from Canada by way of Japan, and the owner wanted to find a more convenient way to camp during surf trips to the Pacific North West.
The simple design prioritizes storage and keeps the Delica’s cool features intact. When driving, the rear area works as a couch with a long aisle in the center that can hold surf boards or gear. Pull-out walnut drawers store supplies and clothes, and the couch lets you work on your laptop or relax. An independent power system features a 50AH lithium battery bank with an 110V inverter to power laptops and devices.
When you’re ready to sleep, the entire rear area transforms into a large bed made from lightweight plywood. At night you can stare up at the stars thanks to the Delica’s unique, Back to the Future-esque sun roof. Overall, the design is clean and straightforward, prioritizing functionality. Like vintage Westfalias or even this rare midcentury camper, it’s cool to see a fresh take on van life.
Want to learn more about the Mitsubishi Delica? Head to Delica Forum for everything from advice to vehicles for sale.