New Zealander John McElhiney recently converted a van into a tiny home, which is equipped for full time, off-the-grid living, and can actually be fully submerged underwater with the help of a snorkel-like add-on. He doesn’t live in it full time, but does spend a lot of time in it when he travels and explores.

He purchased the 1998 Mitsubishi Delica Starwagon already fully modified for expeditions and post-apocalyptic living about a year ago. He started his renovation of it by tearing out the rear seats to create a sleeping and living area. Next, he installed a custom-built piece of furniture, which includes a pull-out sink, a compact fridge, and a counter that can be stored inside the unit when not in use. All these utilities are accessible via the van’s rear door, and locked in place with a pin system when not in use.

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He also installed a compact toilet, which rolls out, and added an expandable, split platform, which can be used to make either a single or a double bed. The pantry, water tank and water pump are stored under this platform and there is also a roll-out dining table. To obtain the needed privacy, he hung double-insulated curtains over the windows, and these curtains are also fitted with zippered pouches so they can be used for storage.



There is also a bookshelf unit, under which he installed an inverter and a 120-amp battery, which is used to store the electricity harvested by the rooftop-mounted solar panels. The power system is a 200-watt one so that it can provide sufficient energy for the van. The set up also allows for the car battery to be jump started using the house battery, or recharged with the solar panels should the need arise.

The most unique feature of this van has to be the snorkel system that allows him to drive the van through deep water or even fully submerge it. The system is capable of supplying air to the interior of the van and the engine.


John is still working on modifying his van, and is currently writing a book about how he did it, so others can do the same.