Working Out…

No, not THAT kind of working out, sillies! My idea for converting the Mitsubishi Montero Sport for camping and land cruising seems to be working out.. 

When I went to pick the SUV up in Ft. Lauderdale I told my friend Stef that I might just “throw my tri-fold mattress and the fridge in the back and take a trip this summer.” Well, it’s not that simple. Got stuff to lug around like a tent because some parks and the like won’t let you sleep in your vehicle. A table. A chair. Canvas for a shade awning. Tools, computers, solar generator, etc. How do you fit it all in?

Well, I started by taking the the back seat out opening up all that room. The seat folded down, but not completely flat, so out it goes. I had a problem with getting the tailgate open which I detailed and had to tear off the covering to get at the latching mechanism. That could be a blessing in disguise. Without it on I can open the gate from inside the van which you normally can’t do. Instead of putting the covering back on I might just cover it with some kind of fabric. I don’t know. That probably won’t happen and I’ll just leave the guts exposed. I just don’t get hung up on esthetics. 

I spent hours poring over online images of how people had tricked out their vehicles. It was hard to find any specifically about the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. Recently I discovered that the Aussies have the same vehicle. They call theirs the “Pajero.” Having lived in Panama for eight years and speaking Spanish I pronounce that as Pah-HAIR-oh. Down under the Crocodile Dundee wannabes call it a Pah-JAY-row. Now I could see how others did it even if they put the steering wheel on the wrong side. 

What so many of the buildouts have in common is they take up the whole width of the vehicle.


While this provides plenty of storage below to stash things like the folded up tent, folding table, etc. I want an aisle on one side for things like drawer cabinets, water jugs, fridge. Can’t really do it with something like this.


I have an electric saw and drill and the basic skills to build this, but have you seen the price of a piece of 3/4-inch plywood lately? The cheapest 4X8 sheet at Home Depot today is going for $54.68. And, the last time I looked that stuff is real crap. A lousy whitewood 2X4X8 is going for $8.24 and even a 2X2X8 will set you back $4.48 for crying out loud!

A lot of people have gone for what they call a “No Build” solution. They do this mainly because they use the vehicle for other things besides camping and need to be able to take things in and out of the vehicle so they can use the seats they’ve left intact. 

Even with my seats gone the biggest problem with the Montero Sport are the intrusive wheel humps. This is not mine, but exactly the same. 


I thought about using milk crates as a base for a mattress platform. Sort of like this…


The crates, sold by Home Depot and Lowes, are higher than that stupid wheel hump on the passenger side, but then I’d need to figure out how to even it all out.

My brother Mark sent me a link to a video I’d seen previously and had bookmarked for future reference and seems like just the solution I need. You don’t need to watch the whole thing, but at least the first 8 minutes to give you the idea of what I’m thinking about.

Now, if I take the middle, outboard leg off I can lay the frame on top of the hump and even everything out with the PVC pipes. That gives me plenty of room to store stuff beneath the bed and leaves almost a foot and a half aisle on the driver’s side to put things in. (“In which to put things” for you grammatically pedantic jerks <actually me much of the time>)

To that end I ordered this bed frame from Amazon last night. It has exactly the measurements required.

bed At the same time I also ordered this table which my brother recommended from his own personal experiences in car camping…



Regardless of the stowage available under the bed I think I’m going to have to add a trailer hitch cargo carrier.


I’ll fit it out with a large Rubbermaid-type container with a lock. In here I’d keep things like my stove, 11 lb. propane tank, tarps, that sort of thing. 



Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Working Out…

  1. Brian

    Keep telling your story. We are following along.

  2. this is exciting! Can you put up a tent, and then go sleep in your vehicle? ha! I got some super cheap tent for my travels and it did OK, but I had to put a tarp over it so the rain wouldn’t come in. I’d rather sleep in a vehicle though. That rule makes no sense. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll get this all figured out. It’s going to be very cool

  3. oldsalt1942

    I suppose you can sleep in the vehicle In fact, that’s what I plan to do. But there are many places where JUST having a vehicle and no tent bar you. Besides that, I think on those days, and I’m sure there will be quite a few where it rains all day for a couple of days in a row, it will probably be more comfortable being in a tent than in the SUV. I also bought a “Rain Fly” that goes over the top of the tent as an extra against the rain.

  4. Jim Russo

    I like the way you think–keep it simple, efficient, and, most important, inexpensive. Speaking of inexpensive, I hope that table you ordered isn’t the same one I got from Aldi. Within a few uses, the connections between the table slats failed and I had to use tape to hold them together. Might want to check how well it’s put together before you take it on your journey.

    • oldsalt1942

      Thanks for the comment. I got the table on the recommendation of a brother who has one. He does a LOT of car camping in North Carolina every year. We’ll see.

      • Jim Russo

        Your brother must have bought the authentic table and not the knockoff version I got! I will say it was light and collapsed to a minimal size.