Riding on a prison bus is probably not something most people would like to do for an extended period of time, but when Ben and Meag Poirier saw a retired 1989 Chevy B6P for sale, they knew they could turn it into their dream home. The ambitious couple worked on the 31-foot-long, retired prison bus for two years, resulting in an ultra cozy, solar-powered tiny home on wheels lovingly named The Wild Drive.
When the Poiriers purchased the prison bus, its dilapidated state clearly demonstrated its past as a prison vehicle. Complete with three locking prison cage doors and bars on the windows, the bus even had a 12-gauge shotgun shell hidden in one of the walls when the couple purchased it.
After gutting much of the interior, they turned to Ben’s experience as a former manager of a reclaimed lumber company for design guidance. Using as many repurposed materials as possible, they began to renovate the space from top to bottom. Most of the flooring, paneling, countertops and furnishings were made out of reclaimed wood.
According to the couple, their proudest DIY project was the bathtub/shower installation made from a single reclaimed southern yellow pine floor joist found in an old shipyard. Ben removed all of the metal from the joist, cut it into two lengths and used a wood mizer to split it into boards. The panels were then kiln dried and put together using pocket screws and waterproof adhesive epoxy.
The interior design shows the couple’s love of DIY projects, but their favorite feature of the tiny home is the miniature wood-burning stove. At the heart of the living space, the stove warms up the entire bus, creating a cozy atmosphere during the winter months.
Although they managed to save on the renovation by using reclaimed materials wherever possible, they did allow for a few practical indulgences. They spent more than $3,000 on an off-grid system, which is comprised of solar panels, an inverter and a battery. The lights, refrigerator, fans, charging station and kitchen appliances all run on solar power. The couple knew that they would be living on the road for extended periods of time in remote areas, so having energy independence was an invaluable investment.
Ben and Meag Poirier are currently traveling in their solar-powered bus, and they post updates of their adventures on their Instagram page.
Photography by Rachel Halsey Photography and Meagan Poirier