Photos by Justin Wade Orton
Tommy Campervans is an Arizona-based campervan and adventure vehicle upfitter. Their skilled crew converts standard cargo vans, but they also upfit decommissioned Hotshot buggies for use as overlanding and adventure rigs.
To give you a little more context, Hotshot buggies are crew carriers used by BLM and Forest Service firefighters. They are built on Ford F-550, Dodge 5500, and sometimes other similar-sized HD chassis. These vehicles are meticulously maintained by the crews that use them, and can often be purchased for very reasonable prices at government auctions.
I assumed that like most larger-than-life off-road rigs, these would be accompanied by larger-than-life price tags. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a complete Tommy Campervans Hotshot Adventure Truck starts at the bargain price of $69,000—that’s the total price including the vehicle. Of course, this led to some more digging to confirm what seemed to be an impossible price point.
The Story Behind Tommy Campervans
When founder Mikey answered the phone, he got right down to business, educating me about the world of campervan builders, many of which he was supplying vans to before he started his upfitting business.
Basically, he couldn’t (and still doesn’t) believe in the model of charging huge amounts of money for builds that won’t even be completed for as much as a year from the date that the conversion is booked. And he pointed out that of the 600+ upfitting businesses registered in the US, many are lacking the true craftsmanship or technical skills to deliver quality that matches the prices they are charging.
The interior of Tommy Campervans’ Hotshot Adventure Truck
Tommy Campervans is Mikey’s answer to inflated prices and unreasonable timelines. Through his other company, Scottsdale Wholesale Direct, Mikey sources lightly-used fleet vehicles, saving thousands of dollars over buying new. The total price for a vehicle plus build from Tommy Campervans starts as low as $30,000 (although $45,000 seems to be the median). And whereas many upfitters expect payment in full by the time a build is completed, Tommy Campervans offers financing, making campervan ownership accessible to many people who can’t afford to shell out a large sum of money all at once. Build timeframes are approximately three months from start to finish.
A sample of their campervan woodwork
And if their bargain prices weren’t good enough, Tommy Campervans also donates a large portion of their profits to St. Judes Children’s Hospital. This is Mikey’s way of giving back to an organization that, in his experience, has done amazing things to help children with serious illnesses. For him, the campervan business is a means to do good in the world, not a way to become wealthy.
The Tommy Campervans Hotshot Adventure Truck
The Tommy Campervans Hotshot Adventure Truck conversion utilizes a 550-sized HD chassis and the original firefighting crew carrier box. The square-shaped habitat is not only easier to upfit than a curved van, but is also more spacious and has a lot of integrated storage spaces for gear and infrastructure.
At the time of writing this article, there is no official spec sheet for the Hotshot Adventure Truck, but Mikey assured me that a website update is on the way and it will include much more information about this particular vehicle.
Rest assured, the Tommy Campervans crew can install just about any features that your heart desires in this spacious off-road platform.
For more information about the Hotshot Adventure Truck or a Tommy Campervans conversion, visit their website.
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