Vanabode Selected: The Ford Windstar! Her conversion into a reliable bedroom / lounge / mobile meditation studio begins today.

It appears practically has won out over romance in my latest vehicle purchasing decision. This is probably a very good thing – I really can’t afford to be investing in an antique and whimsical vehicle right now, it’s too risky. In this post, I outline the variety of vans I had been previously considering.

The outcome of this logical decision was the 1998 Ford Windstar.

1998 Ford Windstar

My 1998 Ford Windstar. Sorry to recycle the same picture from earlier – but come on, it’s just a minivan, if you wanna know what it looks like just look at any road for a few minutes and you’ll see one.

I am now a soccer dad.

I decided she’s a girl on the drive home last weekend. And a chubby girl, at that. She used to have air suspension in the rear end until it failed about 5 years ago, at which point the previous owners installed standard shocks and springs. For some reason, they never bothered to disconnect the air compressor. This unhappy compressor is still trying in vain to inflate the suspension system that no longer exists, resulting in a hilarious burping/moaning sound that comes from the back left wheel well every couple minutes or so. It’s the vehicular equivalent of a phantom limb. Poor little thing. More “character” emerging every drive with this baby.

Summer plans are coming up REALLY FAST. It is looking as if I will be leaving Alberta right around May 1st. This gives me exactly two weeks to convert the stock Windstar interior into a swanky bachelor pad on wheels, while also ensuring this beast is mechanically adequate for the next 8 months. There’s nothing like a time crunch to galvanize work effort.

Here’s what needs to get done mechanically on this van (i.e.; the expensive stuff I’d rather not do):

  • Wheel alignment
  • Remove air compressor (Maybe. The gurgling is kind of cute.)
  • New rear shocks
  • Windshield wipers
  • The windshield is cracked. Can I make it last the summer? I hope so, glass is expensive.
  • Inspection (for insurance purposes)

As we speak, she’s getting an inspection and a wheel alignment. My mechanic, Mark, is going to be looking at her while keeping in mind that she’s about to be going on a big adventure. Here’s hoping everything looks beautiful and that he doesn’t miss anything!

Here’s what needs to be done interior-wise (i.e.; the fun and cheap stuff!):

  • Bed! Priority #1.
  • Removable window coverings.
  • Some sort of separator between front and back section.
  • Shelving.
  • Storage solutions.
  • Window mesh (anti-mosquito)
  • Figuring out what the heck to bring on this journey!

This list might seem short, but I’m not going to underestimate the challenge. I have a feeling that I’m going to be spending a decent amount of time and energy on the window coverings. Making the bed frame and finding the comfiest possible mattress set-up will be pretty fun. Lots of stuff to do!

Stay tuned for details. The next couple weeks will be rich with updates as to how things are going. And, of course, she needs a name! What should I keep in mind over the next couple weeks as I prepare this unnamed girl for our big adventure?

*Well, mechanic Mark just phoned – looks as if the suspension has more issues than first anticipated. The rear shocks are actually fine, however, there is a front tie rod and ball joint that are failing and will need replacement. Due to the crazy alignment I’ll have to replace the front tires as well. I expected as much. Colour me optimistic, but for $1100 I still think I’m getting a good value on this van even after factoring in repairs. 

4 thoughts on “Vanabode Selected: The Ford Windstar! Her conversion into a reliable bedroom / lounge / mobile meditation studio begins today.

  1. Jeff

    My van is a 1996 model, but I had the same suspension issues as well. I paid 600$ for my van and have put, maybe, 200$ worth of work into it.

    1. sillysadhaka Post author

      Hey Jeff! Thanks for the comment. I am jealous that you only managed to pay $200 for the balljoint/lower arm combo, tie rod and alignment + labor. You found an amazing deal. I’m not sure where you are located, but I know that here in Canada we pay a lot more for everything car-related.

      1. Jeff

        I was lucky in that I found a decent mechanic on Craigslist that was willing to work cheaply. He’s a former vandweller of the 70’s generation and he wholeheartedly approved of my idea. I had no idea there are so many of us out there! Canada may cost more, but I’d love to be able to live there.


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