Family Remodeling Its Vacation House Discovers That Their Bathroom Was Built Inside Of An Old Ford Van

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When you’re renovating an old house, you find weird stuff. That’s part of the fun! When I was working on my old house in Los Angeles, for example, I found a massive poster of Barry Goldwater in the attic, and a ’50s-era dirty postcard in the wall of the room I was converting to a nursery. And, sure, posters of old conservative weirdos and topless pics of someone’s great-grandma are fun, but they can’t come close to what a German family found when renovating its old vacation cottage: an entire ’60s-era Ford Taunus Transit van, which had formed the structure of the house’s bathroom. It’s amazing.

The story was relayed, with pictures, on Reddit’s r/interestingasfuck subreddit by a user named ShroomzTV, who explained that the van was found when his family was demolishing the old house. The Redditer gave some more details to explain the situation to delightedly confused readers:

Bit more info: we bought the vacation home in the 90s and there was already an old wooden hut with an outside kitchen. Inside there was a lower doorframe leading to the pantry (driver’s cabin of the bus) and the bathroom (back of the bus). We always wondered why the ceiling was so low but never put it together until today

To address a few questions that came up multiple times in the comments:

  • yes, I and my family are very small

  • having a small ‘Schrebergarten’ in Germany isn’t a rich-people-thing (post-war history is interesting, the ‘right’ to have a spot to plant produce on a small green patch of land is still a thing)

  • it’s not unheard of to have started a vacation plot/lot(?) with just a camper-van and then expand (it usually just got replaced instead of incorporated in the structure)

  • the low ceiling was never weird to us considering all the info above and looking at other huts in the community

 

What’s really amazing is that the old Transit was not just a bathroom, but formed a bathroom and a pantry, which was made from the cab of the bus. And, it gets even more incredible when you look at the pictures, because the van was on an upper story. Here, look at this–this is the house, prior to demolition:

Okay, that’s pretty charming! Now, here’s the location of the bus, in context, as it was discovered, and another shot where you can see its position after the walls were removed (that shot is from the other side of the house from the un-restored house shot):

Holy crap. It’s so clever and charming and resourceful I’m losing it. This shot makes it very clear what the bus is:

 

You can see it’s definitely a Taunus Transit, with the front grille blocked off along with the wheel wells. Here’s a couple pictures from a 1962 Taunus Transit brochure to confirm:

Even more incredible is just how well hidden this thing was when built into the house. Look what the bathroom/pantry looked like:

Sure, it’s small, but would you have guessed that all of that is inside the body of a little German van? No way! Whoever built this first did an absolutely incredible job, provided that job was “don’t let anyone know we used a van to make these rooms.”

The slight arch of the ceiling and the arch of the doorframe that leads to the bus are the only real clues that anything is odd here, and in a small, handmade cottage, you may not even notice. Here’s the doorway into the van, for example:

 

Sure, that slope inward of the wall is odd, but odd enough that you might think, hmmm, I wonder if there’s an old Ford van built into here? Probably not.

Overall, this all makes a lot of sense; if you’re building a cottage with limited funds, why not leverage what is essentially the cheapest, most widely available pre-fab room unit you can get: an old broken-down van. It’ll give excellent structure and usable volume, and when covered in wood and drywall or whatever, it’ll just feel like a room!

It’s brilliant. I hope they keep it, but this time, let the van be completely visible in the interior, and use it as a little office nook or something.

 

(thanks to ShroomzTV for permission to use photos)

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17 Responses

  1. This is taking the motto “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” to a whole new level. Sheathing the entire thing in paneling totally masks that the van was built into the house.

    Of course, the van doesn’t really offer any real structural advantage, since new walls were built inside and out. My theory is that the house was built gradually over time and the van was initially set up on the second story for storage or as a tool shed. It was too hard to move it after the ground floor was built out, so they built the second floor around it.

    1. I’ve seen cases where someone will build frame additions on foundations on both sides of a mobile home, then cover the whole thing with a new roof, but, in those cases, you can still tell it was a mobile home from the two exposed ends, and can definitely tell when you walk inside and see all the old fake wood paneling and shag carpet. Its crazy how thoroughly encapsulated this old Taunus van really was, you really wouldn’t have had any idea it was in there.

  2. German Schrebergarten houses are a very fun tradition. They have been around for a long time but really came into their own after WWII. In large urban areas such as where my wife grew up the vast majority of regular housing was destroyed in bombings. As a result families were desperate to find a place to sleep. Suddenly the little tool shed on the family garden plot looked like a good thing.

    As the country became more prosperous these “survival” houses became more of a place to go for fresh air and a beer in peaceful settings.

    In the late 50’s and early 60’s they entered a phase of a bit of whimsy with more and more interesting additions built on until the actual garden was just an afterthought.

    Naturally all this whimsy soon came under the watchful eye of state and city government. Rules and regulations came into being where none was needed before. On the other hand it did have the positive effect of a set of rules for plumbing, electrification, and most horrifying, specifying the number of hours they could be occupied to eliminate squatters.

    Young Germans for the most part have little interest in hanging out with a bunch of tomato plants, drinking warm beer with there grandfathers, while being attacked by icky bugs.

  3. I don’t know if Germany has building codes everywhere, but if it does I don’t think using a Ford van as a structural support would meet them.
    Hopefully they keep it.

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