It’s not often you come across the literal finest example of a given car just cavalierly up for sale on Facebook Marketplace. And yet, here we are. Because at this very moment, for sale on Facebook Marketplace, is the ultimate realization of the very concept of a Chevy Cavalier. Where the Cavalier was once a decent but ultimately quite forgettable everyday commuter car, this one Cavalier has been transformed into something more, something far beyond its original intent, something, yes, sublime. Meet Al Conary’s Drivable Ice Fishing Shack, which can be yours for only $2,000.
Sadly, Al is no longer with us, which is why is partner Robin has decided to sell the evolved Cavalier. I spoke with Robin about the motivations behind this wonderful and strange machine:
“He built it because we would go ice fishing and drag the shack with snowmobiles it was very cold. He had this idea for years and always wanted to build one he could drive and stay warm. My Cavalier was available so he went about turning it into what you see. We used to drive it down the camp road next to our house right onto to the pond and fish all day. It has a wood stove for heat and cooking, table & chairs and an ice hole for jigging where he used to sit.”
Looking at the pictures, you can see how this would have certainly been a cozy and comfortable place to sit in and fish through solid ice, which is how I assume frozen fish sticks are acquired for our enjoyment.
The build was based on a 1996 Cavalier, and as you can see the original Cavalier’s bodywork is cut off at the base of the A-pillar, with the interior volume of the car increased dramatically by replacing it with a nearly cubical wooden house, complete with wood stove and the associated chimney. The roof is now a traditional house-style peaked roof, allowing for much better rain runoff performance than the original Cavalier design.
The driver’s seat appears to pivot, captain’s chair style, to lock into either driving position or sit-and-fish position. The instrument cluster is now housed in a window box-type setup under the front window, and the brake and accelerator pedals appear to be right below, on the linoleum floor tiles.
Honestly, the inside looks quite cozy, and I suspect was a very pleasant place to spend a cold day. There’s a fold-down table and chairs so a game of Clue or an intimate dinner are all easy to achieve dreams.
The front fenders have been removed, perhaps to make installation of the tire chains easier, and the rear has deployable skis in addition to wheels to make travel over ice more effective. I’m no aerodynamicist and I had to pawn my wind tunnel during some tough times, but I think I can still hazard a guess that the new design is less aerodynamically efficient than the original Cavalier.
I suspect that the driving experience must have been made more, um, engaging with the modified setup, so I asked Robin about that:
He would never let me drive it but it went along great. There were skis from an old snowmobile on the back that could be risen up or down for stability on the ice.
It still drives, and I dearly hope that whatever lucky person snags this will consider using it as a sort of small but spacious RV. With that in mind, I asked our RV obsessive Mercedes for comment, and was lucky enough to get a bonus comment from Mercedes’ competent, non-loon-like-the-rest-of-us lawyer wife, Sheryl:
You had me at ‘Ice Hole’.
It’s a devil may care, no Fs given project. Very cavalier.
What the actual fuck?
It’s not the best Cavalier until it’s got the graph paper alloys off a late 80’s Z24 (because nothing suits a round wheel like a bunch of squares), but this is good Cavalier.
I always thought Cavalier was a strange nome for a car, especially a cheap run of the mill economy box.
This dude nailed it! I’ve never seen something so cavalier.
He didn’t even bother to use a bay window as a windshield. It’s like he felt the same and took it to it’s most literal sense.
There’s nothing more cavalier than driving this thing out onto a frozen lake and warming up the ice underneath you with a wood stove all in the name of catching a few fish in comfort.
Al, you are a legend in my book. God bless you.
That’s gotta be the heaviest shack on the lake. When it finally breaks thru, can the driver/fisherman even escape?
Love its quirkiness, but I’ll be a spectator.
I donated my 2002 Cavalier to Christian Teen Junkies or some organization like that, after the body surpassed the 10% structural urethane foam mark.
I obviously lacked creativity, it ran well, brakes worked, good exhaust. I should have been thinking in the box.
Holy balls, this thing is amazing.
You know those races where people pull dilapidated trailer RVs? This right here is the next evolution of that.
She’s a real beauty! I don’t care about fishing and I’m afraid of falling in frozen lakes or ponds, but I’d love to use it for a more traditional land-based camping experience.
Motor. Home. What’s the problem? Sell me a license plate.
But what kind of taillights does it have?
“best Cavalier”?? There’s no such th-
…oh. I want that.
Request: any comment on The Autopian about whether something is road legal or not should be replied to with “Be cool, Sheryl.”
And filed away for ready deployment
Actually i think needs to be the adult of the Autopian website
I read the headline and expected to see a mint-condition Cavalier listed on Bring-a-Trailer for roughly half the price of an average American house. When I saw the photos and description, I realized that it is *literally* half a house, and that is so, so much better.
Why does this ad remind me of Fargo?
It’s the perfect vehicle for fleeing the interview.
That’s why I recognized it! I get the Bangor Daily as a newspaper. I’m two degrees of separation from the writer of that article via something like 15 different ways (people, coaching, newspaper staff, etc). Oh, and my camp isn’t far from where this ice shack is located. Love it!
I saw the photo before I clicked on the article, and already knew for a fact this thing was somewhere in Maine.
Yeah, we’re gonna need you to test drive it and report back please.
Braking tests, 0-60, skid-pad (with & without the skis deployed), the whole she-bang.
How many mackerel per gallon does it get?
Scootershapedmotorcycle, your name intrigues me. Any chance there’s a Honda PC800 in your history?
Well, what’s the taillight situation? Are you going to start hiding taillight details behind the paywall? That’s dirty pool, Torch. Wait’ll the good folks who frequent my local watering hole, The Flickering 1157 (aka, “Flickerseven’s”), hear about this!
I thought the Model T Caboose was my favorite, but the Cavalier getting Wicked Witch of the East’ed just pulled ahead. On skis no less! Purchase and paint front steelies ruby red = done.
Is it odd that the first thing that I noticed was the lack of sideview mirrors?
Hmmm… but can you make it a boat for summer fishing too?
Anything can be a boat…once.
I’m thinking add an outboard motor, compressor and inflatable pontoons.
Something like this: https://hoverhawk.com/inflatableboats.html
Make the Coast Guard rub their eyes.
He spent years planning this… Why is it a Cavalier base? It should be based on a Chevy Caprice.
Most likely the minimal weight with max pulling power. The ice thickness and stability can change quickly. You would want the lightest option available.
Sure it is not road legal, keep it at a camp or haul to lake. I would not want to bring this thing on the open road.
I would want to bring this thing on the open road, I would not bring this thing on the open road.
Why a Cavalier you ask? Just because… “He had this idea for years and always wanted to build one he could drive and stay warm. My Cavalier was available so he went about turning it into what you see.”
Couple of reasons 1) the availability of the Cavalier, 2) the fact that they already had a Cavalier, 3) they didn’t need to buy something else because they already had the Cavalier
Not to mention the pun opportunities. And it doesn’t sound like the man who made this contraption was an especially capricious guy.
Ba dum tshh
I am not sure about that. The guy who built it refused to let the guy who owned drive. He must have bought it. Also who would let someone do this to a car who had their name on the title?
Sheryl any legal opinion on owning this while someone else drives it?
You’re a bit confused. The husband built the shack and never let the wife drive. Hubby died so wife is selling it.