The Conversion

I found Sharona on Craigslist. She was in Wilmington, NC (my hometown) and I was in Brooklyn, NY.


I moved out of NYC, went to look at her and made an offer on her all within a week. The seller, a sweet man named John (who happens to be a journalist and if he read any of these grammatically error filled posts he would probably take the van back) accepted my offer and the conversion began.

Mechanically, she was pretty sound for her age. My dad and I replaced the battery, the terminals, the belt, changed the oil and the filter. Meanwhile, a shop in North Carolina replaced the 2 front tires (one was split,) and the pivot bushings, aligning the steering and wheels while they were at it.


As for body work, it’s an ongoing process. While the inside was taken care of and is still in great condition, the doors were a small and tedious nightmare. Let me explain…she says through gritted teeth.

Door handles open and close car doors via cables. The cable ends hold a metal ball that, when attached to the cable latch, are pulled, creating tension, releasing the latch and opening the door. Sharona had a different plan. Ford’s are notoriously known for using plastic cable latches that with time, 22 years to be exact, disintegrate. Sharona’s cable latches just happened to all disintegrate in a domino manner, one after the other, making it nearly impossible to open any of the doors on her. LOVE IT.

Thanks to my dad, Advanced Auto Parts, and my brother-in-law who so graciously accepts beer as payment, helped me replace the broken plastic latches with metal ones. I say most because another door broke in Arkansas. Don’t tell my dad or brother-in-law. Luckily, I know how to fix it. Unluckily, I don’t want to. Oh, I should also add that you can’t open the side door from the outside, and the back door manual lock doesn’t work. BUT I LOVE HER.


As for the interior, we took out the middle seats, removing the panels (that are bolted through the body and a pain in the ass to remove. Tip: buy liquid wrench.) Since it’s just me sleeping in the van, I left the bench seat in, reclining it and covering it with a mattress topper that I cut to size and voila, a cozy bed. A new back problem might be born of this sleeping situation and in that case I’ll remove the bench seat, build a frame and purchase an actual mattress…maybe. Knowing myself, I’ll probably remove the bench seat and sleep on the ground in my sleeping bag.


All that was left after sorting out the bed situation was storage. Using a cloth shoe organizer, the already existing storage compartments in the top and stuffing everything else under the “bed,” it all fit surprisingly well. Even the ridiculous amount of clothes I packed because I’m indecisive and want to look cool and be comfy all at once and I like options okay!


Anywho, here she is in all her glory. Comfy, spacious and ridiculously hot in the middle of August in Texas. Didn’t think that one through.


Meet Sharona, my humble abode on wheels

Cue The Ramones.


Buying a van and cruising around North America is a dream that’s been imprinted in my brain since 2015, the year I graduated college. Instead, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma and walked straight into a 9-6 office job where I spent all of my free time watching videos on van repairs and mapping out where I’d go first if I ever got the chance to live the life I wanted to.


Fast forward 4 years (give or take a few months and far more than a few tears) and I’m living the life I want to, with a massive amount of mechanical help from my dad and brother-in-law and moral support from my mom, sister and dearest family and pals. It’s beautiful, it’s grimy, it’s sometimes lonely, but wow it’s cold chill inducing to get to do something you’ve dreamed about doing for years.

What a surreal and beautifully short life this is.