It’s like a blank canvas. You pick up a cheap bus a few years before you retire and spend the weekends pottering away in the garage turning it into the super dooperest around-Aussie vehicle ever made.
Everywhere you go, you’ll turn heads and, unlike those mass-produced, sanitised multi-thousand dollar rigs out there, your masterpiece is going to have personality … it’s going to have a bit of you in it!
Converting a bus can be a labour of love or a one-way ticket to heartbreak.
You occasionally see adverts for people wanting to on-sell their partially completed masterpieces, presumably because they ran out of time, money or desire to finish the job.
So it is not a venture to be entered into lightly.
To pull it off, you have to love tinkering and have the skills and time to tinker (or know someone who does) or you are probably best off buying a pre-converted bus and lying about who did all the work!
And it is certainly worth doing all of your sums very, very carefully before you start as it is amazing how the costs of a fit-out can add up. In some instances, you would have been far better off financially, as well as emotionally, if you had spent the extra dollars to begin with on getting your already-ready dream rig.
It is quite incredible how many second-hand buses are out there on the market just crying out for a wannabe grey nomad’s loving touch. They can be picked up for just a few thousand dollars, but there’s a lot of work still to be done. Obviously, you will need to check out the engine thoroughly before you buy as some of these buses really have been around the blocks a few times. And do not underestimate how much hard work is involved in taking out seats, putting in a toilet, kitchen and sleeping area. It’s a major job requiring a major commitment. But, for some, all of the hard work really pays off when they hit the high road in ‘their’ dream machine. See also Building your own Motorhome. There’s no feeling quite like it.
For most however, buses that have already been converted and can be picked up relatively cheaply are the best option. A converted bus can be a great way to get around the country but don’t fall in love with the idea until you’ve driven one … you’ll need a special licence and a special mindset.