Sweet Deal: Pro Kayaker Puts ‘Hostess’ Stealth Campervan Up for Sale

This ex-Hostess delivery van has been turned into the ultimate van-down-by-the-river by pro-whitewater-kayaker Stephen Wright. It’s now up for sale and is quite possibly the ultimate stealth camper.

Stephen Wright has been traveling the world for nearly 2 decades as a pro-whitewater-kayaker. He is a six-time U.S. National Freestyle Kayak Champion and a Squirt class Gold medalist at the Freestyle World Championships.

He’s also heavily involved in the industry, as a marketing and R&D specialist at Jackson Kayak and one of the top coaches in the world — probably best known as the lead instructor of the OKS Keener Program, one of the top youth whitewater kayaking programs on the planet.

And wherever the best playboating on the continent has been in that time, this van is usually in the parking lot. An old Hostess workhorse, this custom step van served as Wright’s home for the past 8-plus years, traversing North America many times over.

Today, Wright puts his custom home-on-wheels up for sale, as he’s recently purchased an old Airstream trailer to fix up.

Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
(Photo/Stephen Wright)

Hostess Van RV

Wright will continue to live on the road full-time with his partner and dog. But the bigger space of the Airstream will allow more comfort, while a 4×4 truck to tow it will allow for more remote river access opportunities.

Wright says he’s “spent around 200 hours and a lot of money in the past 6 months to make this rig fully turn-key and move-in ready.”

It’s currently located in Columbus, Ga., but he’s willing to work with a buyer to make delivery arrangements. The asking price for this custom home-on-wheels? $20,000.

While it has been covered in Wright’s signature flame graphics and the Jackson Kayak logo for years now, it is now back to looking like a white delivery truck, perfect for stealth camping anywhere you might find yourself for the night.

This manual transmission Cummins 4bt diesel-powered, 16-foot cargo space, ex-Hostess delivery van has about 200,000 miles on the odometer and is said to “start up immediately every time and run smoothly” while getting 15 mpg. It has two passenger seats with seatbelts.

Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
(Photo/Stephen Wright)

You get about double the living space of a long-wheelbase Sprinter van and a much more wide-open floor plan, which has a wood grain/industrialized look.

It’s designed to be off-grid/boondocked for months at a time, in all seasons, with a burly solar power system, and only the overhead AC requiring shore power to operate. And there’s a Dometic fridge/freezer, propane heater, three-burner propane stove, flat-screen TV, and so much more.

Adventure gear storage is not an issue either, as the van comes with a tow hitch, roof rack, and tons of internal storage. It even has an interior bike rack and additional mounts in the ceiling for more big gear storage. Interior storage for big gear is awesome, as it’s way more stealthy and offers much more security.

Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
(Photo/Stephen Wright)

One of our favorite features of this van is the custom rear door. It opens up the van to the outside world, and basically acts as a rear awning.

This van isn’t perfect, as it’s a 25-year-old delivery truck turned RV. The speedo doesn’t work, nor does the parking brake, and yes there are a few dents. It is also not exactly quick and it leaks a bit of oil, as you’d expect from an old diesel box-van.

You’ll probably want to put in some sort of toilet system and water system as well.

If you’re interested in buying this stealth adventure van, you can contact Wright through Facebook Messenger.

1997 Freightliner MT 35 Adventure Van Details

Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
(Photo/Stephen Wright)

RV Buildout:

  • Four-season camper: closed-cell spray foam insulated walls and ceiling; ceiling also insulated with fiberglass
  • Olympian Wave 6 radiant propane heater
  • Coleman Mach 8 low-profile air conditioner (with heating strip) with a Micro-Air Easy Start unit installed.
  • Two FanTastic powered fan vents (with roof vent covers)
  • Walls and ceiling are covered with laminate plank flooring
  • Brand-new waterproof vinyl plank flooring over 1-in. insulation foam board and laminate plank flooring
  • Two RV windows in the sides, one in the back door
  • Custom rear door: upward-opening with gas struts to hold up and out like an awning
  • Solar panels: 500 watts
  • Lithium battery: 150 AH AltE KiloVault (with Bluetooth phone app monitoring)
  • Solar charge controller: Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 amp (with Bluetooth phone app monitoring)
  • Xantrex inverter: 2,000 watt continuous (4,000 peak)
  • IOTA Engineering DLS-45 45 amp plug-in battery charger
  • Dometic CFX3 55IM fridge/freezer (DC-powered)
  • Three-burner propane stove
  • 40-lb. refillable propane tank
  • Sturdy RV table breaks down and is stowable
  • Solid full-time double bed (cheap thin mattress included, but no bedding)
  • Bench couch seating — cushions included
  • Tons of storage in overhead cabinets, a large wardrobe-style front cabinet, under-bed and couch storage spaces, and kitchen cabinets (all cabinet doors secured with friction-based RV door holders)
  • Under-bed storage can be accessed from above or by a locking exterior cargo door.
  • Heavy-duty metal shelving in the rear of the kitchen area for extra storage
  • Thule roof racks with 60-in. bars
  • Interior wall-mounted Thule bike holder
  • Wall and ceiling straps for holding surfboards, kayaks, paddles, ski/snowboards, etc.
  • Blackout curtains all around
  • 22-in. LG TV
  • Tow hitch and wire connector works great
  • All roof stuff and windows were recently resealed with RV lap sealant.
Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
(Photo/Stephen Wright)
Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
Tons of under-bed storage; (photo/Stephen Wright)

Mechanicals:

  • Cummins 3.9L 4bta engine with approximately 200K miles: averages 15 mpg, starts right up and runs great; injection pump (Bosch P-pump) was just bench tested and calibrated with a #10 fuel plate; turbo was replaced in 2015 (Holset HX30); engine valves were just adjusted; oil and filter change 300 miles ago; new driver heater motor; new starter motor in 2021; new alternator in 2020
  • Ford ZF5 5-speed manual transmission (new transmission and clutch in 2020)
  • Soundproofed engine compartment (over $600 in soundproofing materials used)
  • Rear air ride rear suspension is custom built and super heavy-duty — air compressor replaced in 2021
  • Four brand-new shocks
  • Front leaf springs reinforced with Timbren suspension enhancement
  • All six tires are in good shape
  • Upgraded to two brand-new starting batteries with 1,300 CCAs

Quirks:

  • There is no speedometer (I use a Garmin GPS, which is included) to monitor speed and keep track of mileage
  • There is no parking brake
  • This isn’t a high-top Sprinter or other passenger vehicle. It’s huge, slow, fairly loud to drive, and handles like a bus. Plan to go 60 mph on the highway and slow up big hills — it’s the tradeoff for 15 mpg in a vehicle of this size. It was originally designed as an around-town delivery vehicle (rather than highway), but with a few engine upgrades and a new transmission, it goes highway speeds without issue. If you take it to a diesel engine shop, you could probably have it tuned up to have much more power.
  • It’s an old Cummins engine, so it does leak oil — I haven’t been able to find the source of the leak. It’s been like this since I bought it.
  • It’s a 25-year-old vehicle that I’ve replaced a ton of stuff on, but it’ll likely need regular maintenance to keep it happy.
Stephen Wright Hostess Van RV
Furnace and fridge/freezer make life on the road comfortable; (photo/Stephen Wright)

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