Incredible Vintage Ford Camper Van Proves Van Life Ain’t Nothing New

The obsession with RVs doesn’t seem to be slowing down, even as the world begins to open up again. As we start seeing glimpses of a post COVID world, many people are still trying to snag a camper van and bug out of town. Even though camper vans blew up during COVID lockdowns, craving the openness and freedom of van life is nothing new. You know the VW hippie van, of course, but are you familiar with the incredible vintage Ford camper van, the Thames 400E Dormobile? 

This vintage ford camper van is called the Thames 400E made by Dormobile campervans
Ford Thames 400E Dormobile campervan | Car & Classic

This vintage ford camper van is way too cool 

 The Thames 400E was an instant classic for anyone who craved the carefree living that camper vans offer. The Thames was a popular one for modifications because it was a body-on-frame van instead of the more common unibody platform. 

According to Silodrome, this body-on-frame design allowed for many more customization options for different body types, which led to the camper van builders, Dormobile, to take a shot at it. 

What is Dormobile? 

Ford Thames interior pop top hammocks
Pop top hammocks | Cars & Classics

Silodrome says that Dormobile’s roots go way earlier than camper vans. Hell, it goes back over 100 years before the car even existed. Dormobile started in 1773 as Martin Walter, a company that made tack for horses, like harnesses and bridles. Harnesses turned to carriages and carriages into coachbuilding for early car makers. 

After many twists and turns, Dormobile built its first camper van in 1952. It was known as the “bedroom on wheels” and people loved it. By the early ‘60s, they were dominating the English camper scene. Dormobile was upfitting Land Rover campers, VWs, and of course the vintage ford camper van conversion, the Thames 400E. 

Check out the Dormobile Thames 400E

Ford Thames 400E parked on an empty street
Ford Thames 400E | Cars & Classics

The vintage ford camper we see on Silodrome was built from a new Ford van in 1965. It was outfitted by Dormobile and sold to a man in Dublin, Ireland, as a fully-converted pop-top camper van. 

This vintage ford camper van only traded hands one time, from the original owner to the current owner. The Thames 400E also got a full body restoration. The original paint was stripped to bare metal so that the sheet metal work and needed fabrication could be done properly. 

Along with the body restoration, the original engine was swapped with a more powerful replacement, a high-compression 1,703cc unit rebuilt by Phoenix Rebore. Now that the work is done, the Thames 400E is ready to rock summer vacation yet again. 

The interior is still laid out in the original configuration. The cabin features seating for four that converts to make two beds. There are also two cot/hammocks in the roof, which are usable when the top is fully open. The rear of the vintage Ford camper van is home to a tiny kitchenette and cupboards for kitchen storage. It even has a sink with running water. 

This vintage Ford camper van could be yours

After only two owners, this vintage Ford camper van is ready to find its third adventure-seeking owner. It is currently on the auction block in the UK at Car & Classic. The current bid is £6,600, but the reserve is not met. There is only a little more than a day left on the auction. 

This quirky classic proves that van life is nothing new and is unlikely to go anywhere any time soon. 

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