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DIY camper conversions are still hot in the streets. Despite coming down from the COVID camper boom, these little mobile homes are still multiplying. With their multiplication, the prices for campers are still high and going higher. So seeing one artist’s take on a wacky DIY camper built for only $9K gives us hope that the path to camper ownership is still possible

Camper conversion in the middle of the desert
“Wilbur” | YouTube: Tiny House Giant Journey

How much does it cost to build a DIY camper?

Campers are like anything else these days; if you want to spend a million dollars doing it, there are more ways to do that than you could imagine. However, most of us can’t or don’t want to spend that much money on a camper. For those more frugally-minded, the DIY camper world can be quite friendly. 

The lovely pink camper we see here was built by a visual artist named Rita. She lives in the homemade pink camper that she named “Wilbur,” after the pig from Charlott’s Web. During COVID, Rita, like many of us, spent her time tooling around the countryside outside of Dallas, TX. As a graphic designer, her work allowed her to travel and be more flexible with where she spent her time. She eventually began living out of her Jeep with her two dogs until she decided to upgrade her living situation. 

DIY bus conversion 

Rita bought a retired shuttle bus and spent five weeks and two days converting the bus into something better suited for the van life. She built the camper into an art studio/apt. Wilbur can not only support her life and job but also tows her Jeep behind to have a set of wheels wherever she lands. 

The total cost of the conversion was $9K. Unlike what it costs to buy anything with the title of “RV” or “camper” these days, $9k might as well be free. According to Motor1, that $9k covered the conversion materials, the cheery pink paint job, and the Haynes manual for repairing heavy-duty Ford trucks she used as a guide. Rita says that the manual was the key to giving her the confidence to build the camper van and also to continue its maintenance and repairs herself. 

DIY camper perfection 

An artist and her DIY camper
“Wilbur” | YouTube: Tiny House Giant Journey

The interior of Wilbur looks more like a 1970s Malibu bungalow than it ever did a bus. The former shuttle bus now uses all of its parts and features to build a vibe. For example, the pair of back doors once used for making the bus handicap accessible are now French doors that open up to reveal a lovely open-air den. Through these doors, you’ll see curtains, wood, color, and art, making this place a proper home. 

The living space includes a shower, seating, a bed, and even a coffee bar. There is also a dedicated workspace where Rita works as a graphic designer and freelance painter, and muralist. 

It’s not hard to see why an artist might like to live this way. The movement, the views, the freedom… it’s all very open and suggestive. Inspiration, as well as experience, must come in bucket loads living this way.