Sprinter Bus/Shuttle Conversion

The ‘Choosing the right Vehicle’ category is for anything related to the discussions, questions, comparisons, & information about living in different types of vehicles.

I am looking at vehicles and am wondering if anyone has done a conversion of a Sprinter Bus/Shuttle configuration and whether, under the skin, they are the same with the exception of the door.



So, I’ve been working a Shuttle Bus over the last nine months and would be happy to share what I’ve learned. Mine isn’t a “Sprinter” specifically, but looking at the Sprinter Shuttles they are pretty similar depending on the year you go for.

I’d include a link to my build post, but honestly, that thing is so out of date and off from the current situation it’s honestly garbage. Truthfully at some point, I need to redo it.


Pre Purchase Inspection

So my Shuttle Bus is a 1999 Ford E450 with the 7.3L Turbo Diesel Engine, the engine is the primary reason for my choosing the vehicle. 7.3L Ford Engines made between 1999-2003 are one of the most reliable Diesel Engines ever made, often lasting easily to the 500k mark while making it to 800k frequently enough as well.

Personally, I LOVE my Shuttle Bus because of the size. I have a huge amount of room compared to a Sprinter, so much so that I frankly didn’t do much to “minimize” anything. I just put together a layout, and tossed it together, without worry of “taking up too much space” for any one thing. Another great thing about the size, is that while it is bigger than the Sprinter, it isn’t anywhere near as large as an A Class Motorhome. So my fuel usage will probably be around 15mpg or so, which is terrible compared to a sprinter but great compared to an A Class.

When looking for a Shuttle, here is where I messed up. I focused on the Engine WAY too much, and really “technically” got shafted for it. The entire floor was rotted, there was a ton of metal framing on the “Shuttle” part of the Bus that was rusted and rotting away, the roof was full of holes and had several leaks, and a few other issues.

  • Check the Roof, be that person that brings a ladder and looks, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
  • Check ALL of the flooring, even in the corners and especially around the Driver Seat.
  • If you want to have a bad time, get a fiberglass body like I did. If you can wait, look for a metal body instead.
  • Obviously check the engine, ensure it drives/rides nice, check the exhaust, etc etc…

Those were the worst of what hit me when I bought my vehicle, it really wasn’t a big deal because I was willing to do the work and wanted to rip my Bus apart to learn everything about it that I could. But going back, I’d rather just not have had to do the work! :laughing:

Post Purchase - Into the Build and Beyond!

My first mistake was watching too much Youtube/Instagram. If you look in either of those locations to get ideas, just make sure you mute the audio. It is one thing to get an idea from what you see, then use your own knowledge or research to figure out how to make it happen.

But it’s completely different when there is someone trying to convince you that you need to spend $800 on a system for your shower that is so over-engineered even a non-plumber can tell they are just adding parts to make more money off your Amazon cart. Social Media Influencers will bloat the crap out of anything in the hopes that they will earn a commission off of it from you clicking their Amazon link, so while I still occasional look for some cool ideas from those mediums, I don’t listen to a damn word they say as soon as they start pushing any specific product or design.

My second biggest mistake, was thinking that my Bus was a house. It IS NOT a house, it’s closer to a Mobile Home if anything, but 90% of the time “traditional” building/installation methods have not worked for me and only ended up wasting money on unnecessary or unused materials. So when I bought a full on Shower Stall thinking I could make that work, all I really did was burn $500 that I couldn’t get back. It’s not a house, traditional housing type fixtures/structures/etc may or MAY NOT work. In the end, getting creative and thinking outside of the box yielded AMAZING results over trying to do things the “traditional” way.

My third biggest mistake, was using cheap solutions. Not simple solutions, simple solutions are great, I’m talking about just being cheap and trying to get out of having to put a few more bucks into a project to yield a better result. Originally my walls were going to be some thin underlay I thought I could half ass glue on, and then maybe try and “clean them up” with some stain or something. It came out HORRIBLE, and you could just see that I was being cheap/lazy. Eventually I ripped it off, bought some tongue and groove cedar (like everyone else and their brother), and it looks SO MUCH BETTER.

Those are the big things I can think of, the things that have stuck out the most as far as what I’ve learned over the last nine months, so I hope that helps! I’ll try to update my build thread, maybe add some recent photos to this post, so you can see what I’ve got going on if it helps at all. I’ll probably be able to snag some shots tomorrow now that I’m just about done with my “Rain Closet”. (That’s what I call my shower because it’s nothing like a “traditional” shower, the materials and installation of it, I mean.)

= Edit =

So, looking over my Build Post, rather than re-do or delete anything I’d rather leave the mistakes and changes for others in case it helps anyone in the future. But the information here is accurate enough to go ahead and toss in this link. The very end of the post if where the most recent pictures I’ve posted are, but I’ve made a ton of progress since and will post photos of that tomorrow. :smile:

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