Home » Turning The Grumman LLV Postal Vehicle Into A Camper Was A Stupid Idea So We’re Doing It Again With The New Oshkosh NGDV

Turning The Grumman LLV Postal Vehicle Into A Camper Was A Stupid Idea So We’re Doing It Again With The New Oshkosh NGDV

Ngdv Camper Ts
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In many ways, animals are probably smarter than humans. If you walk your dog up to the edge of your “invisible fence,” the pooch gets a mildly unpleasant tingle and learns to stay out of the Tingle Zone. Meanwhile, a human being will get stay up way too late on a work night, be miserable and barely productive the next day (an hours-long unpleasant tingle), then do the same damn thing all over again without a second thought.

I have to say that I exhibit similar not-learning-from-your-mistakes behavior. Recently, I spent precious hours of my ever-diminishing life doing drawings showing how to convert a nearly-forty-year-old mail truck into a camper. The ill-suited postal vehicle in question was the Grumman LLV; this stands for “Long Life Vehicle” but neither the manufacturer or the USPS ever thought “long life” would mean four decades.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

A few of these government-owned vehicles have come into the hands of the public, and other than the fact that it’s made of aluminum there are no good reasons to try to turn this thing into a motorhome. There’s barely enough room for a table, seating, and kitchenette; I had to make a pop-up roof in order to provide room for sleep. I think I proposed an electric powertrain and removing the wretched Iron Duke four-cylinder from the ancient S-10 chassis.

Llv Main

Interior space was minimal. Apparently, I put hibachis in place of the old motor in the engine compartment, but you’ll need to re-read the post to find out since I have no time or interest in revisiting this silly idea.

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Llv Camper Rear 6 17

Interior31 1536x1353

Produced from 1986 to 1994, the newest of these LLVs are now thirty years old, so if you think that you’re the only one patching up your hooptie to be a serviceable vehicle you are not alone. Keeping this aging fleet afloat is no longer really feasible for the government, and the Postal Service has finally made a choice of a contractor and design for a new mail truck. After wasting time inexplicably changing a letter-carrying vehicle into a mobile living space, I certainly won’t make the mistake of trying to do that again, will I?

Who are we kidding? Of course I will.

Going Not As Postal

The Oshkosh Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) is the Postal Service’s selected machine to replace the dying LLV. Supposedly they’ll start appearing on the streets very shortly, though when I mentioned this to our postal carrier he scoffed and said that he’d “believe it when he sees it” and shook his sweat-covered head in the ninety-degree heat of this uncooled metal box. At that moment his LLV died; he cranked on it for about half a minute, eventually bringing the Iron Duke back to smoky life and stumbling away.

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The NGDV is far larger than the old LLV, especially in height, and the aesthetics have been described by a number of critics as “really dorky looking”.

Mail Truck Orig Photo 6 14
Source: USPS

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Indeed, anything twenty feet long, nine feet high, and seven feet wide with an engine compartment sticking out of one end would prove a challenge for even Pininfarina to make look good, so it’s no surprise that in the hands of a defense contractor like Oshkosh this thing didn’t exactly come out with the unparalleled beauty of a 365GTB Daytona.

Ngvd Stock Front

Ngvd Stock Rear
Source: USPS

Honestly, I’ve seen the interior layout and I’m still not quite sure why it had to be made so tall. Instead of questioning this choice, I’ll just go ahead and use this decision to my advantage. Maybe, just maybe, this conversion will work out after all.

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Mailing It In

If nothing else, the NGDV is far better suited to being a camper than the old LLV that I converted, but that’s sort of like saying that a Chevy Tracker is far better for the Acropolis Rally than a Chevette. Actually, that’s a bit harsh to say, since the chassis of the NGDV was reportedly derived from a Ford Transit, something that actually has been used for overlanding RVs already. The NGVD will offer the options of gas or electric and two- or four-wheel drive. A 2.0 liter Ecoboost four-cylinder doesn’t sound like much, but compared to the 70 horsepower diesel engines powering 1980s motorhomes such as a Winnebago LeSharo the 245 horsepower that Ecoboost pumps out is rocket power. That’s also something on the order of a 150 percent increase over the old LLV. A larger 2.3 liter Ecoboost would make it more than respectable.

Mail Truck Outdoors 22

Starting with the standard NGDV, I’ve added much bigger wheels and tires, a brush bar, and high intensity light bar to allow our camper to do mild off roading with the standard front wheel drive. Up top, skylight windows with white tinting film allow in light and reflect the sun’s heat. A small stripe around the top of the roof attempts to break up the visual mass, but that’s a bit too much for anything to work on.

Ngdv Front Mod 2

 

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In back, the roll-up rear door is now a fixed panel with a huge window; more glass appears on the rear side door.

Ngvd Mod Rear 6 16 C

I’ve reused my idea from the LLV of the “envelope” rear side windows. This graphic nod to the NGDV’s mail truck origin can provide minimal ventilation by opening the “envelope flap”, or you can tilt the whole thing up to let in more air.

Envelope

Thankfully, very few people buy a motorhome based on its appearance, since with a few notable exceptions most of them are quite lacking in that department anyway. No, they care about what it’s like inside, and that’s where the NGDV surprisingly shines. I’d even venture to say that the NGDV will best any other mail-carrying vehicle in the world as an RV candidate, even if that’s like saying Richard Nixon’s piano playing skills would have decimated Bill Clinton’s saxaphone abilities on Star Search.

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Interior capacity is where the NGDV shines over the LLV. In fact, without the pop-top sleeper, the LLV really would never have even begun to work as a micro motorhome. The vast interior space of the NGDV with the cathedral-like ceilings gives us plenty of room for not only ample living space, but also options for overhead sleeping areas to maximize use of the square footage.

New Mail Truck Layout 6 16 B

I’ve kept the NGDV as a right-hand drive vehicle, but with effort it could certainly be converted to the other side. The mail sorting tray thing from the postal format is replaced by a passenger’s seat and possibly a center jump seat as well. A pop-up table means this area will become part of the living space when the motorhome is parked; the seats can swivel to face each other and create a conversation nook. A fold-down desk on the wall behind the passenger’s seat means this could be the impromptu “office” of the motorhome.

Mail Truck Interior 2 6 16

Unlike the LLV, we now have room for a self-contained small-footprint bathroom with shower, sink, and toilet. On the outside wall of the bathroom is a kitchenette unit with sink, cooktop and overhead microwave. Inward-facing seating at the very back has the main dining table between it; four could sit here and enjoy the view out that massive rear window. This space could convert to a double sleeper if needed, but you likely wouldn’t.

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Why? That’s because the NGDV has another double sleeper above this space, a similar sleeper would sit above the front driver’s compartment, meaning that the NGDV might be able to sleep at least six people. That isn’t even counting if we find a way to make the driver’s compartment area sleeping space as well. This is where the extra height comes in quite handy. In the center of the NGDV, the extra height could be used to sink the roof-mounted air conditioning unit down to help avoid being the subject of one of those viral videos of low bridges or gas station awnings doing a guillotine job on your A/C.

Mail Enhancement

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously said “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” Of course, I believe that if I told George of my interest in turning a postal delivery truck into a camper I’m fairly certain that he’d say “damn, that’s a fucking stupid idea!” Indeed, it probably is, but at least it makes more sense than my earlier rendition on a vehicle that was poorly matched for such duties even before it became the worn-out decades-old piece of crap it is today.

Here’s the best news: there likely won’t be another new mail truck released in the next thirty years, so there’s no need to fear that I’ll waste any more time on this idea again any time soon.

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Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines The Ultimate Autopian Tour Bus – The Autopian

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FunkMoose
FunkMoose
1 month ago

Twenty feet long? This thing is longer than a Caprice wagon?!

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 month ago

Looks good and inspiring.

Personally I think government issue black steelies are very cool, so wouldn’t swap them out on a camper.
Going for that look on my own real life camper project too: https://www.instagram.com/p/C8SYDi6iYtK/

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

Newman would love this!
“nobody really NEEDS mail!”

BagoBoiling
BagoBoiling
1 month ago

My local USPS has their own branded tow truck in their lot ready to go and retrieve the LLVs on demand. That’s how you know they are ready for replacement.
Your new platypus camper looks great.

Major Malfunction
Major Malfunction
1 month ago

Converting anything usually comes down to weight. Drawings look great but the weight of the furniture is one thing and then if you try to add any tanks, I bet it goes downhill in a hurry. They won’t fit underneath and that means inside with a false floor. Center if gravity goes up and will handle like shit. And if you are going through all that trouble and don’t have a black, grey, and great water tanks; all you’ll have is a really really expensive tent. Love to see if this pans out.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
1 month ago

I like some of the other delivery vans out there with a bit more space. Have been pondering what van life in one of these might be like

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

Is it just me or does the NGDV look like it was designed by Pixar?

I think the roof is so high because heat rises.

I don’t think I’d ever really want your fanciful RV version, but it’d be fun to start arguments around the water cooler about how this is superior to all others.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Yeah, totally what I was feeling while staring at it just now. It’s got lots of personality. It really does look like an animated caricature come to life.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
1 month ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

this car was designed by a committee. The postal service “specced” out every little thing. how many inches the seat is from the floor, how many inches the windshield is from the driver, how many inches the ceiling has to be, how many inches long the vehicle has to be. They just made all of these “requirements” without ever putting any of this into CAD software or anything and then just left it to the automakers to figure out. it’s why Chevy dropped out and ford eventually dropped out. Most of their “requirements” did not make sense and ford tried to get USPS to tweak some things but they would not budge on ANYTHING because the requirements were already approved and any changes would have to go back to committee. So Oshkosh is the last man standing and they can charge whatever they want for them and they can be a shitty as they can get away with making them because everyone else dropped out of the race.

The united states postal service has no business “designing” a vehicle but they thought they knew better than the best automakers on the planet and now they are stuck with a company that is specialized in heavy equipment instead of fuel efficient, safe, light duty vehicles.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
1 month ago

Do civilians get the 60 grand price that the govt pays or will there be “additional markup”?

Jatkat
Jatkat
1 month ago

I will NEVER tolerate Chevy Tracker slander. Did we forget that Suzuki indeed DID make a race version of the Tracktaracudo?? Pikes Peak Escudo baybeee

Lardo
Lardo
1 month ago

funny, I thought it looked like a Transit with a bigger windshield. And that windshield is going to heat the hell out of it.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 month ago

Every time I see this ridiculous new mail vehicle, it makes me think of a cartoon. However, it was not until today that I could identify which cartoon. A friend of mine told me what it looked like to him and I realized that was exactly what I was thinking of.

The Flying Car 2.0 from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Unsurprisingly, Reddit has already discovered this.

FunkMoose
FunkMoose
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Nick Birch from Big Mouth.

Bqpqfb
Bqpqfb
1 month ago

Thank you for the Wisconsin vanity plate.

Bqpqfb
Bqpqfb
1 month ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Indeed

Church
Church
1 month ago

That envelope window is inspired.

DysLexus
DysLexus
1 month ago

Nice. You really “posted” a fine “package” by “delivering” a quality unit “enveloped” in an unusual “box”. I’ll be the first to “stamp” out negativity from anyone saying you just “mailed” it in.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago

I doubt any mail carriers want to sit in that fishbowl let alone camp in it LOL

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
1 month ago

bro it has air conditioning!

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago
Reply to  Bassracerx

Bro, it’s a UV oven!

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago

It is an incredibly fucking dumbass idea, but that is why I come here. Other car sites whine about frivolous topics like Tundras with bad engines and CUV’s not handling like sports cars, while you are exploring the Important Issues of the car world. That is why I come to this site.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

It’s like having a mini RV with the windshield of a 42′ Prevost.

FunkMoose
FunkMoose
1 month ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

If Weekend at Bernie’s had a hearse, this would be it complete with Bernie’s corpse propped up in the back doing the royal wave.

Framed
Framed
1 month ago

For what it’s worth I think it’s splendid. In Europe there are similarly small RV’s.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

Meanwhile, a human being will get stay up way too late on a work night, be miserable and barely productive the next day (an hours-long unpleasant tingle), then do the same damn thing all over again without a second thought.

Also commute into a job that could easily be done from home, spending their own time, gas, wear and tear and lunch money often simply to boost the value of the building.

10001010
10001010
1 month ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Also boosting the value of managers who don’t know how to measure the productivity of their workers without seeing butts in seats.

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