Published on January 20th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Hacking a bed into the back of a station wagon

bed for station wagon

Materials: Dodge Magnum (or other station wagon of your choice), Dalselv twin bed, Sultan Lillaker slats, station wagon, saw, drill, optional strap hinges and paint stick

Description: Building a bed into the back of a station wagon to sleep on during camping/road trips.

The Sultan Lillaker slats fit perfectly into the back of the Dodge Magnum, but the bed frame will need some adjustment.

bed for station wagon
bed for station wagon

1. Remove the back seats from the Magnum.

2. Remove approx. 2 inches from each of the two shorter ends of the bed frame.

3. Re-drill holes for the screws and dowel in the ends you cut off.

4. Remove approx. 2.5 inches from each of the two longer sides of the bed frame.

5. Re-drill holes as above.

6. Attach one of the longer sides to one of the shorter legs (foot of the bed) but turn the side piece *upside down*. The slats fit perfectly into the back of the Magnum, but do not leave space for the frame, so they will need to sit *on top* of the edge of the frame, rather than nestled into the ledge inside the frame. Turning the sides upside down gives the slats more surface area to rest on at the sides. Place the side-and-leg into the car with the leg at the rear of the car. Measure the length of the front leg necessary to approximately level the bed (these legs will rest on the floor of the car – the foot space of the back seats – as opposed to the back legs, which will rest on the sides of the trunk),

6. Now assemble bed frame — remember to turn the longer side pieces upside down. Also turn the legs at the head of the bed upside down so that the longer length points downward instead of up, then trim them to the measurement you took above.(Discard the rest of the headboard pieces.)

7. Trim the tops of the legs close to the top of the bed frame so that your trunk will be able to close and your front seats will be able to scoot back as far as possible.

8. Attach the slats to the bed frame with a few screws in the plastic strips on each side.

9. Install in car.

10. Optional — if you would like to be able to access your wheel well and the space under the bed in the trunk, cut the longer sides of the frame about 2 feet from the foot of the bed, and hinge them with small strap hinges. Add some wood to the bottom of the frame to support it when the hinged part is raised (see picture). You can also drill a hole into a paint stick or similar at one of the corners to act as a prop to keep it open (again see picture).

~ Melissa Dunphy, United States

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

31 Responses to Hacking a bed into the back of a station wagon

  1. TheCopperHat says:

    I know I’m a year behind but just came across this build. I’ve got an 06 magnum I’ve been trying to convert into a camper wagon. My wife and I are 6 feet so it will be tight but this looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    just out of random curiosity, what are general rules about sleeping in cars? is that allowed outside of pit stops or would that generally be considered loitering?

    slept in my car a couple nights because my apt lease ended a couple days before the other began, wasn’t nearly as comfy as this probably is. all my stuff was at a friend’s place, but she had hardwood floors and no spare beds

  3. ShannonU says:

    Oh, I was always jealous of my cousin’s van when I was a kid. The back seats turned into a bed!
    So tell us, is this so you guys can spend the night at rest stops and not blow tons of money on hotels? Or is it more for taking turns driving while the other ones, sleep? Just curious!
    If you are planning on one person sleeping while other drives – you might need to know that several states have passed “backseat seat belt laws.” Are your windows tinted? That could help.
    Great job on the mattress, too, btw!

    • Mormolyke says:


      We’ll be sleeping in the back at rest stops – giant road trips are no fun if you can’t hang out with each other while driving. Luckily, we’re both pretty small people – at one point in our marriage, we only had a twin bed to sleep on, so we know we’ll both fit OK (at least in a car, there’s no danger of rolling off the side!).

      The back windows are tinted, though, and I’m planning on making some screens to go up in the windows for extra privacy while camping (cue inevitable re-emergence of shaggin’ wagon jokes).

  4. jo says:

    i agree this is ikeahacker, so you should hack some ikea item to enter here, but if you need to sleep in your car why do you bother to half your car’s space this way? why are you not only using a sleepin’ mattress or a sleeping bag?

    ps you may want to adopt an african child, like this you will have the world’s entire coverage, all the five continents ;-) ))))p

    • Mormolyke says:

      We are going on a five-week trip around the USA and our luggage fits very neatly under the bed in the trunk space and where the back seats used to be.

      Aside from that, the back of the car is not flat, and simply laying a mattress or sleeping bag down would be pretty uncomfortable.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Very cool :)

    I’d love to see it with mattress and bedding!

  6. Rymel says:

    this is awesome. i’ve been trying to figure out a more compact solution to being able to comfortably sleep in a car for the past few months without resorting to getting a minivan or larger. i sometimes work 30+ hour shifts with multiple breaks in between, and the car seat just isn’t cutting it for naps anymore. i’m not sure why it still has to sit so high though. but thanks for this!

    • Mormolyke says:

      Because the sides of the bed are about 5 inches high, this was about the lowest we could mount the bed without losing the functionality of the trunk space (you can see in the picture above that at the hinge point, the bed is basically resting on the side of the trunk). This actually ended up being a good idea because we are packing all our luggage for a five-week tour of the USA under the bed. We had the option of a cartop carrier, but it would probably add a couple of hundred dollars of gas to the final bill because of the drag

  7. Anonymous says:

    We can further abbreviate this to the Shwagon 2012. :) Good job!


  8. Oliver says:

    Shaggin’ Wagon!

  9. Anonymous says:


    Shag wagon 2012.

    Sorry. Can’t stop laughing.

  10. Anonymous says:

    looks good, but I had to laugh when I thought “that looks like the worst nightmare of the parents of a teenage girl when they see this in her date’s car”.

    • Anonymous says:

      “looks good, but I had to laugh when I thought “that looks like the worst nightmare of the parents of a teenage girl when they see this in her date’s car”.”

      Hahaha exactly what I was thinking…two years ago Ive seen (here in Germany) a Volkswagen T4 van with a sticker on its back stating something like:

      “Please dont laugh about this car – your daughter might already have lain in here…”

      BTW: Nice hack! Didnt expect that much space in a Magnum :)

    • Anonymous says:

      When the T4 is a rockin, don’t come a knockin.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great idea! Looks super comfy. But what about the possibility of a rear end collision? Is there anything there to protect you from being injured by the bed? Maybe a cargo barrier is needed?

  12. That’s a great idea! I could use this for my Toyota Matrix when we want some extra shelter! As for your license plate, there’s no anonymity on the internet so I’m with you, who cares!

  13. Anonymous says:

    That’s really clever! Nice work

  14. Anonymous says:

    Just a tip – you may want to consider blurring out your license plate.

    • Mormolyke says:

      Hrmm, I’m not sure what the point of blurring my license plate would be, given that my actual *name* is printed below the story, and I’m well aware that I’m super easy to Google :)

    • Anonymous says:

      I worry about what your planning ;-)

    • NonnyMus says:

      Unscrupulous people can use your license plate number to report a fake hit-and-run accident done by you. That’s why it’s best to blur it out for your protection.

      Most people will think, “Hey! Cool hack!” but a few baddies might think, “Hey! Let’s take advantage!” Sadly, that’s the world we live in today.

      Better safe than sorry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t it be just as convenient to just go outside, look at any old car, and write down that license plate… then report *that plate number* as in a fake hit-and-run?

    • Mormolyke says:

      Wow, that seems like a very strange way to use a random license plate. I think if anyone tried something like that, the police would see through their story fairly quickly, given that there are no dents or scratches on our vehicle.

    • I would ahve to agree that they could jsut get anyones plate number, so it doesnt really matter that you didnt blur it.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is left-over ‘hacker paranoia’ where people for the longest time thought that you could be tracked down (easily) by your license plate; people with expensive/modified cars were advised to blur the plates to avoid having someone find out where they lived (or more exactly, where the car was likely to be) and have the car stolen.
      It’s evolved and turned into a big game of Telephone by people who don’t know any better over the last 10 years, seeing it done on car-enthusiast sites and taking best-guesses as to why the plate is blacked out.

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