Vanagon fans have the Samba, but otherwise where do you go to find unique, customized, #roadlife-ready vehicles? You know, the ones where someone else has done the work, eliminated most of the gremlins, and is just, finally, Over It? Not so many places, really, but now there’s Conversion Trader, a vehicle marketplace that connects sellers to buyers.

The site was launched by Gardner Skinner, who also runs Ski Resort Jobs. “There was just no central exchange for the work. So we built one. A place to look at pictures and get ideas and find great innovation and sell to a more educated crowd than the local Craigslist.

“After the success with Ski Resort Jobs, we were joking but it wasn’t really a joke that if you want a career in skiing, or to live in a mountain or beach community, your only shot is to drive or tow your housing into town with you. Custom RV work is finally getting the attention it deserves. Look at the Westy culture, the skoolie culture, full bus conversions. They’ve been this cool, aspirational subculture for over half a century. Now the Sprinter acolytes are doing so much innovative work. And every few months another raw vehicle is revealed that would make a cool tiny home.”


The problem with Conversion Trader—and it’s a big one—is that it puts ideas in your head that just shouldn’t be there. Ideas like: that 2017 Dodge Pro Master would be just the ticket. Or like: No, not the the ProMaster, the $90,000 Sprinter that’s been done soup to nuts. Or: No, what was I THINKING? It’s the 1976 Dodge Jamboree for only $9,000!!!

“A lot of people have been fine-tuning the craft and it’s paying off,” said Skinner. “Solar finally works well, propane tanks are disappearing, insulation and creature comforts are better than in some stick-built homes. You’re off the grid, maybe, but never have to be disconnected.

“The next generation, we all know, isn’t buying houses or starter condos. They understand the digital culture and how to make money remotely. The vanlife movement is a hell of a lot more than owning a van.”


Well, yes. It feels like a complete societal shift. And whether it spirals into insignificance as people grow older, grow up, and move to the house and kids routine or continues on a vibrant and growing track, #roadlife is going to have a legacy of amazing and unique vehicles.

“The move is just going to continue to grow, and not to be a tool about it, but it seemed better for someone who respected the culture to build a marketplace for it rather than one of the corporate-owned mega-sites. Our rates are dirt cheap. I will return your email. I don’t want advertisers unless they are directly part of the outdoor culture.”

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.