A Local Couple Aims to Make #Vanlife More Accessible

Aspen Custom Vans provides high-quality conversions and rentals.

By Trina Ortega July 26, 2018 Published in the Midsummer/Fall 2018 issue of Aspen Sojourner

A van called Blue. 

Aspenites Jason Schirato and Kimbo Brown-Schirato’s love affair with vans began about six years ago, when they purchased a small GMC conversion model for weekend adventures. The couple next bought a Dodge Sprinter, but it had fixtures they didn’t want, like a shower and toilet. And they soon discovered that the quality of the build didn’t match the price they’d paid.

“We did some remodeling and realized that they didn’t do the greatest job of putting it together,” says Jason, a civil engineer. Cabinets and walls had been built with scrap wood and holes covered by trim. “That got us thinking about doing our own vans,” he adds.

Now their new business, Aspen Custom Vans, provides both made-to-order build-outs and rentals to make it easier for locals to hit the road for a weekend of fun. Down the road, the couple aims to offer fractional ownership of vans (much like what’s available with houseboats) for those who only need a kitted-out ride a few weeks of the year.    

“I believe in the sharing economy,” says Kimbo, a senior associate at Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel. “People want van life but may not have the money to buy a whole van or the space to park it.”

The couple’s latest personal van, nicknamed Blue, is a 144-inch wheelbase, four-wheel-drive Mercedes Sprinter built up from scratch. The Instagram-worthy rig includes three chairs (one for the Schiratos’ 2-year-old daughter); a kitchenette with sink, a two-burner cooktop, and a fridge; storage drawers; and a custom dinette that seats five and converts into a queen bed. A 100-watt solar system runs it all.

With requests for van conversions coming in and the purchase of a 2018 Sprinter that Jason will turn into a five-person family rig for rent, the couple has plenty to juggle, making the need for short escapes in their own perfect weekend-warrior van even more desirable. 

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