Honker's transformation into an expedition car

Part 2 - Interior and Equipment

Photo: Marcin Siwiec

In the previous installment, I focused on the exterior structure, replacing the traditional roof with its own body. Now it's time to shift attention to the interior of the vehicle and any necessary installations.

This unusual metamorphosis is the result of my personal needs and experiences gained from numerous trips using this particular car. Although the beautiful weather encourages you to spend most of your time outdoors, unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially in adverse weather conditions. That's why betting on this specific form of bodywork, based on individual ideas and skills, was an obvious choice for me.

In this article, I will take a closer look at the process of converting a Honker, taking into account my own expectations and the practicalities of car expeditions. Of course, there are an infinite number of options that can be chosen for such a conversion, along with a wide range of additional equipment, accessories and installations that can be considered. Nevertheless, the solutions presented in this text are the result of my personal involvement, tailored to my needs, knowledge and practical skills.

Getting down to specifics:

Let's start with the inner walls, which, as I mentioned earlier, are made of sandwich panels. Thin 2-millimeter plywood was attached and glued to them, in order to reinforce the areas where they can be leaned on. The sides below the hardtop were also filled with sandwich panels and further reinforced with PUR foam. This guarantees full insulation throughout. 

The soft felt used in car upholstery is glued on such a base, using a strong upholstery adhesive that is resistant to high temperatures to avoid peeling due to intense sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. 

The soft felt allows it to adapt to different curves, is waterproof and easy to clean.

The interior was built from lightweight okoume plywood, a moisture-resistant material often used in yacht construction. I bought it in 240x120x1.5 cm sheets and customized the pieces according to my own designs. 

The choice of 15-millimeter-thick plywood had two advantages: it provided adequate rigidity and allowed the use of standard furniture hardware with minor modifications.

With 3D printed spacers, the push locks, designed for a thickness of 16 mm, fit perfectly.

The drawers are based on standard drawer slides with a close, supplemented only by the bottom, back and front.

A tourist toilet was also built into the center section, just in case. This required reworking the outlet from the rear heater, because otherwise it would heat the aforementioned toilet and not the cabin. It was necessary to make the outlets from the original outlets so that they lead over the furniture.And here again the 3D printer, designed and printed adapters work just fine.

The left side of the car acts as a seat, bed and closet in one.

The mattress is made of 5 cm foam, upholstered with abrasion-resistant and waterproof kodura fabric, stitched on an ordinary sewing machine. The bed measures 190×60 cm, which is just enough for my height.

Thanks to the redesign of the roof over the driver's cab, it was still possible to fit two cabinets under the ceiling and a deep shelf, under which there is a net for spars and in the shelf itself a folding chair. In the central part of the cab there is now a lower-hanging ceiling, but as you can see in the photo this does not interfere with overall use, as even the rearview mirror continues to serve its purpose.

The right side of the car is already the kitchen area, although it is built in such a way that in case of a scrape it is able to overnight an unexpected traveler, which we already had a chance to test when returning from Turkey 2 years ago. The kitchen consists of a classic camper compressor refrigerator, stove, sink and other details necessary in a kitchen.

I will still write about the stove and sink in the section on gas and water installation.

All in all, it is a fully one-person house on wheels, allowing you to function peacefully even during long trips, regardless of the weather outside. 

I would like to remind you that all the time we are describing Honker, a Polish-made car, which, after the build-up, has lost nothing of its off-road characteristics.

In the 3rd and final part, I will describe the electrical, water and gas systems and maybe a few more little things that make it easier to function on the road.

Author: Grzegorz Siwiec
Publication date: August 21, 2023

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