Our truck is a 1978 Renault Estafette. The front wheel drive Estafettes were introduced in France in 1959. While initially intended as courier vans, many later models post 1968 were used as gendarmerie police vans. Our little high-top was found just north of the art and history hub of Rennes. Despite it’s many years, it was in pretty good shape and ripping up the old floor revealed relatively little rust. After a few minor hitches, a new fan belt, new inner tubes and tyres, he runs like a dream!
In order to help others convert their own vans and keep the food truck movement going in the UK we’ve detailed the stages of our conversion. If you have any questions we’ll be happy to answer for a small consultancy fee (your food!).
We’ve named our Estafette “Emilio”. Check out our gallery to see the restoration and conversion into “the little taquero”.
ORIGINAL VAN, PRIMING AND SANDING
The van was originally white. The bodywork needed little work in terms of ironing out dents. After the sandblasting and the primer coat it was time to get sanding again.
The previous ply lining was rotten in a few places leading to some rust damage. The bulkhead was in good shape and there was even a secret hatch for storage above the driver. A feature we have chosen to keep. The 6mm ply floor was coated in a fibreglass which chewed through a number of blades when trying to remove it. After repairing the rust and putting some decent insulation in place some brand new plywood lined the inside. Non-slip vinyl was then laid to finish the floor.
INTERNAL WALL LINING AND TILING
The hours of cutting the laminate by hand and gluing resulted in a really nice finish. A new door was created through to the cab, a couple of Mexican features added, and a space on the wall tiled in preparation for the sinks.
Back to work, cutting 30mm plywood for the worktops. The Ply was marked out and cut to fit perfectly along the walls. Brushed stainless sheet was stuck to the surface for a great looking, hygienic work surface. The Griddles were put in place and the gas hooked up. The ply edges and bottom were treated with food-safe oil which really brought out the stripes of the ply. With the spare wheel and gas bottles secured it’s time to drive to the electrician!
Electrics and plumbing are in. The beautiful shiny stainless counters are exposed. Now for the Finishing touches. The tortilladora was secured to the worktop for making perfect corn tortillas. The traditional drinks fountain secured to the front counter for making tasty refrescos. Appliances brought in and secured for transit. Now to crack on with making it all look pretty!