Arbor Day is an international holiday during which citizens are encouraged to plant trees. We’re celebrating by honoring this fellow, who harvested a few to make this Volvo 850 Woody Camper.
At our first quick glance, this looked like a complete disaster, but the more time we spent looking at the photos and reading the description, it started to grow on us…like the cedar tree it was made out of.
The basis here is a 1997 Volvo 850 Estate Wagon, which is a pretty solid platform for touring around the country. The Volvo 850, which debuted in the United States in 1993, was Volvo’s first front-wheel drive vehicle available for sale here. It features a transverse-mounted, five cylinder engine and depending on which trim you chose, you could get turbocharging or even all-wheel drive.
Volvo had a patented rear suspension it called a “Delta-Link,” and it was unique enough to get a U.S. Patent. The Delta-Link setup was lightweight and provided an excellent ride, but it also provided some level of passive steering on cornering, which is great when you’ve added a giant, wooden box to the cargo area.
Now, if the builder had chosen oak or mahogany, there might be reason for concern, but the “tiny house” on the back of this Volvo 850 is constructed of aluminum and cedar for light weight. You can see in the photos that it sits level, which indicates that the wooden structure hasn’t added a lot of weight.
The biggest modification to the Volvo was the removal of the rear tailgate. The roof is still in place, and it provides the platform for the sleeping quarters. The rear seats are present and the standard wagon cargo area is just as it would’ve been from the factory.
The wooden structure provides room for two nine-foot surfboards inside, and two road bikes along with them.
Mechanically, the inline five-cylinder got an “extensive overhaul,” including new brake rotors and pads, a new radiator, hoses, belts, a timing belt, water pump, thermostat, heater core, tires, battery, plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, and an oil change with synthetic oil. The air conditioning system was also serviced in the last few months.
The camper portion has headroom for humans 6-feet-one-inch in height. The double bed/sleeping loft up top is seven feet long, and there’s an additional six-foot sleeping area below. The roof of the camper is one piece of awning-grade vinyl, and the lumber has a marine-grade finish.
The “foyer” has an icebox/refrigerator and a stainless steel sink along with a gas cooktop so you can prepare an Arbor Day celebratory meal. There’s an outdoor fold-out cooking area, and LED lighting.
Imagine the entertainment value of using the onboard toilet as you hurtle down the highway.
The Volvo five-cylinder still provides 18 mpg, and the builder limited the construction to seven feet in height to allow it to fit into most garages and drive-thrus.
The Volvo is available for $14,000. It’s for sale on Craigslist in San Diego County.