Project Van: Building a Removable Bed

Update by Tom Suddard to the Ford E-250 project car
Jun 30, 2019

We’re working on turning this $2000 van into a do-it-all machine that can tow a car to the track, then serve as a mobile workshop and hotel room for the weekend. 

Up until this point, we'd been using an old futon as our bed in the van. It worked pretty well, but it had a fatal flaw: Because it sat directly on the floor, it greatly limited our cargo capacity. 

So, we decided to build a better bed. First step: Start measuring. Here's what the van looked like to start:

We realized that the van was six-feet wide at its widest point, meaning we'd be able to lay sideways. Turning the bed sideways would give us more room inside. We used 2x4 hangers and sheet metal screws to attach everything. 

Then, we cut down a piece of plywood to fit on top:

Success! Here's what our sleeping area looked like when finished:

It also increased our cargo-carrying capacity significantly:

We used this bed setup for a few months, visiting some pretty cool places while camping in our van:

But we couldn't kick the feeling that it could be improved. After all, those 2x4 hangers were pretty chintzy, and it was a pain to install and remove the bed when we wanted to carry larger items. So we went back to the drawing board. The key to improving our mounting system, we realized, was E-track, so we ordered a box of it and went to work:

We installed 30 feet of E-track in our van, finally giving us enough tie-down points for cargo and a solid base to mount our revised bed.

We ditched the 2x4 hangers and instead used special E-track 2x4 mounts, which are way stronger and easy to remove or move when necessary.

An added bonus: The E-track is mounted higher than our old bed was, giving us more room for cargo. 


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View comments on the GRM forums
noddaz SuperDork
6/30/19 12:20 p.m.

Nice upgrade.  And I thought you guys and gals always stayed at 5 star hotels.

californiamilleghia HalfDork
6/30/19 5:07 p.m.

will it break down so that you could put something BIG in the back ?

GCrites80s Reader
6/30/19 10:57 p.m.

In reply to noddaz :

Well, ya know, those are pretty thin on the ground near racetracks

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
7/1/19 7:29 a.m.

One of my proudest moments was showing up to Road Atlanta to co-drive with FCP Euro, who were basing their effort out of a professionally-run semi-truck transporter. They asked which hotel I was staying at, and I pointed across the paddock to this old van with 2 wheels up on leveling blocks and magnetic screens slapped over the windows. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
7/1/19 8:02 a.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

True.  The only track around here with hotels reasonably close is Watkins Glen.  However, since they mainly cater to the winery crowd who hardly acknowledge the car events ("Oh, there's a race track near by? Interesting..."), those rooms often aren't cheap.  Pocono seems to have a few not too far away.  Lime Rock is essentially a hotel desert. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
7/1/19 10:08 a.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Yes, it comes out with a few screws in about 10 minutes. 

joey48442 PowerDork
7/4/19 7:09 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Did you make your screens or buy them somewhere?  We’ve tried to make some but they don’t usually turn out well. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
7/4/19 2:00 p.m.

Screens came from here and they’re awesome:

joey48442 PowerDork
7/6/19 2:28 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Thanks!  We have tried to make our own but haven’t been able to come up with much. Our e250 is a 2010, but the rear doors are identical back to 1992. So I pulled a pair of pop out windows from the junkyard and installed them in the back doors. They work great with our roof fan set to blow out, but we need a way to keep the Michigan state bird (mosquitos) out. 

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