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The Ford camper van we wish we could buy in the U.S.

Why does Europe get all the cool campers?

A gray pop-top camper van with its roof popped sits in a field next to a mountainous lake. There is a kite boarder on the lake. Courtesy of Ford

North America has seen a sharp increase in camper vans over the past few years, but the U.S. is still, as the CEO of Airstream put it, about 15 years behind Europe in terms of RV design. We hear this all the time at Curbed, especially in our RV and camper community group on Facebook: Why does Europe have all of the cool campers?

The latest wish-we-had-it-here camper to cross our desk comes, ironically, from Michigan-based Ford Motor Company. Ford originally introduced a newly redesigned Transit Custom Nugget in early 2019, and the Nugget itself has more than three decades of happy customers. The new Nugget, however, was so successful in Germany the past few months that the camper was recently launched in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.K.

It’s easy to see why—the Westfalia-converted Nugget has a super functional interior that benefits from a unique L-shaped kitchen. Located in the rear, the kitchen features a dual-burner stove, sink, and refrigerator. A forward lounge area is able to seat five people around a removable dining table thanks to a three-person bench and two reversible captain’s chairs. And in both the pop-up roof or fixed high roof options, the Nugget sleeps four; two people in a double bed and two others in a compact folding bed in the cabin.

Other perks in the Nugget include a retractable awning, outdoor shower, and toilet, foldaway sink, and privacy screen in the rear. Recent updates have added a Ford Pass Connect modem and Wi-Fi hotspot, making the Nugget a good choice for remote workers looking to live life on the go.

In many ways, the Nugget (and its competitor, the popular Volkswagen California van) points to the trends that we’re seeing in the North American market: Campers are going small with an emphasis on big tech. We also wish that their were more pop-top campers available in the U.S. The best options currently are from Seattle-based Peace Vans and the (long wait-listed) Recon Campers.

Unfortunately, Ford shows great enthusiasm for launching the Nugget in Europe, but it currently has no plans to bring the camper van to the U.S. Cue the complaints, stat.

A gray interior of a pop-top camper van comes with seats for five and a table in the middle with food on it.
The dining room area features room for five and a removable table.
The interior of a minivan has a gray and white kitchen with sink, dual burner stove top, and fridge.
The L-shaped kitchen is in the rear of the camper, separate from the dining area.
A sleeping area in a van from a fold out bench.
The lower sleeping area would be ideal for two kids.
An upper sleeping area in a small mini van camper van.
The upper sleeping area fits two people in both the pop-top and high-roof versions.
An orange camper van with the rear hatch door open. There are trees in the background.
A view of the rear of the camper.