Originally Posted by carringb
Chance - have you ever seen the ELF? If was a front-wheel-drive version of the E450 with an ultra-low floor in the rear by using IRS. I think one could make a really nice camper conversion.
I don't know that it would offer any real benefit over a Ducato, other than more capacity and much lower purchase cost (considering Ducatos can only be bought new).
Actually, I did see a fleet of those as airport shuttles about 20 years ago while traveling on business somewhere near the east coast. It was a mid-size airport but can't remember where.
When I was building my homebuilt about 9 years ago I looked into the drivetrain they used to see how hard and expensive it would be to convert my van to FWD so I could drop the floor just like they did. I figured my wife and I could easily walk around inside a van if the floor was dropped to within a foot of the ground or thereabouts.
As I got into detail design and evaluated the complexity of the project, and associated compromises, I decided (applying the 80:20 rule) that I could drop the floor just behind the rear axle so we could stand and have access to the rear-half of the van at a small fraction of the work and cost. Sometimes I regret not going for the entire project, but in reality it was probably a smart move on my part to limit the scope.
During design I also considered stretching my E-350 extended van so I would not only have more room to convert into a camper, but also so I could run the extended 3-piece driveshaft low enough to drop the floor more than what is normally done with a handicap conversion. That seemed easier that converting to FWD but I don't have the room to work on a van 24-ft long. My home garage isn't that long so I would have had to rent an off-site work area.
Like I said before, I was just curious to know if these kinds of projects ever get off the ground. Considering some guys on this forum don't hesitate dropping a diesel in a Ford, install roofs, and so on, it seems odd that I hadn't seen any major body modifications like those described above. Maybe it's just too expensive for what you get. Or perhaps it's more room than many need or even want.