They Built a Wheelchair-Accessible Camper Van & Defied All Odds

by Simplify

We're taking a tour of a van dwelling that is not only wheelchair accessible but was also completely built out by two wheelchair-bound friends. This van owner is challenging the idea that van life isn't possible for the disabled. The builders are Loren and Karla, who are travelling with their dog, Lola, in their 144 Sprinter Van, fondly referred to as Van Grotto.

Customizing a Sprinter Van for Accessibility

The Sprinter offers about 90 square feet of living space, which gets even smaller because of the need to accommodate a wheelchair. They had to design and build with space and mobility in mind - everything had to be compact and either high or low enough for Loren to navigate around in his wheelchair.

Build Process

Initially, the van was given to a professional builder but he struggled with the accessibility features, so Loren took over the build with a friend who is also wheelchair-bound. They took about 18 months to complete the van, testing every modification for its accessibility.

Living the van life is possible with a disability, too.

Total Cost

The van cost about $70,000 new, with an additional $25,000 for adaptive modifications for the lift and driving features. They invested another $50,000 in modifications for electrical, water system, and cabinetry, and $15,000 for exterior modifications.


Despite the challenges associated with disability, Loren and Karla have successfully customized a van that not only accommodates their needs, but also promises a life of adventure on the road. Their story is inspiring for everyone, especially those who are differently-abled, and it shows that with the right modifications, a life of exploration and freedom on the road is indeed possible.

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