Words and Photos: Taylor Boyd
Originally published in the November issue of TransWorld SNOWBoarding Magazine. Check out the latest issue here!
Danny Davis is a ramblin' man. That's why they call him Travelin' Dan. On a tip from Alex Yoder, who has a knack for finding livable vehicles, the Tahoe-based, beard-wearing, method-blasting rolling stone came up on this late '70s rig that's catalyzing his excursions up and down California's 395 and beyond. We crossed paths with Dan up in Oregon, and after offering up some beers from his cooler, he showed us around this matte green one-of-a-kind home on wheels. It's of course been said that dogs often resemble their owners owners, or vice versa, but somehow this rig almost looks like Danny.
This is a 1979 Mercedes military ambulance, model name 290 GD. To my knowledge, it has the longest wheelbase ever made for the G-Class Mercedes. It once had a gas engine, but what I have been told is that the military must have upgraded it to a diesel, as this model was not originally known to have a diesel engine
Whether it's camping in a parking lot or at the hot springs outside Mammoth, this thing is great to have around and easy, but it's a slow roller. I've been enjoying taking it to the Eastern Sierra. For snowboard trips, surf trips, and general camping, it's really nice to have a bed that's ready to go. I still do a lot of tent camping, but having a little RV to cook in, sleep in, and keep everything locked up is key.
I bought it from a guy from Holland. Alex Yoder actually brought it to my attention. I haven’t done a thing to it besides add some portable solar panels to charge the deep-cycle battery. It needs a new fridge and heater, but I plan on ripping most everything out of it and creating a new layout. I think I could make it a little bit longer and create a floor plan that better suits my needs. It needs to be able to fit all the gear: snowboards, surfboards, bikes, etc.
It's got no radio, cup holders, or air conditioning. But we've got a four-burner stove, sink, refrigerator, lots of storage, and a 25 gallon water tank. Just the essentials, no frills.
I spent a couple weeks in it this summer in Oregon, and it was hot! It's a little sweaty in the mornings, but good livin'—showering when I can but always having a bed available and prepared no matter where I’m at. Last winter I spent a couple nights in it, and it was awesome. Cooking inside keeps it warm, and there is nothing better than whipping up a cup of coffee in that thing before heading out to do some riding. This thing is small, so space is always tight, but you figure out how to store stuff so everything fits.
Besides some minor engine stuff that needs to be done, I would really like to make the camper part of the rig more suited to my needs—create more space to chill, as opposed to it being taken up with stoves and refrigerators and such. It seems I spend more time in here just hanging, sleeping, and storing gear than I do cooking. So I just want to make it cozier to have company. This thing only has a little over 40,000 miles on it, so she has a lot of diesel yet to guzzle.