By on April 2, 2020

Maybe self-isolation is getting to me. Maybe the lack of balcony, deck, backyard, or sprawling property rife with plant life and woodland critters is having an impact, forcing this urban writer with his small carbon footprint into wild daydreams of wide open spaces and the road less traveled. Maybe there’s not enough booze kicking around.

Come to think of it, that could be the problem.

Anyway, as we continue enjoying a springtime of fear, uncertainty, and vastly reduced travel options, let’s turn our minds to a less-talked-about aspect of personal vehicles.

Sleeping. Having your vehicle serve as shelter for the night. Once upon a time it was a selling feature for Nash, with images of young families enjoying camping trips without the need for a tent or travel trailer gracing ads for Airflytes and the like. That fold-down seat/twin bed was a bonus for penniless campers, drunks, and amorous couples, but bad news for the father watching his daughter dash out the Nash owned by her new boyfriend.

They won’t be back by 10:30.

Thankfully, fate or circumstance never made it necessary for yours truly to live out of a car for more than a day or two. For some, spending every night in their car is an unfortunate necessity; most others use it as a last resort. Maybe a lunch break nap or a little shut-eye on a long trip. Those, at least for yours truly, are familiar things.

And when the time comes to sleep in my own car, I instantly wish I was in someone else’s ride. A larger car, a plusher car… ideally, a minivan with the rear seats removed. A panel van. A long-bed pickup with a cap. Anything that could actually accommodate my lengthy frame.

Depending on when you last folded down a front bucket (probably with insufficient lower back support and cumbersome headrests) or attempted to curl up on a hard rear bench, you know what I’m talking about. Restful sleep eludes me in a conventional sedan or hatch. I’d have to find something far bigger or older in order to really knock off for the night (or even an unbroken span of a few hours). I’ve often wondered just how I’d fare in, say, a ’71 Imperial LeBaron or some other mile-wide car from the Landau Era.

Sweet dreams and baby-making, those vast benches seem made for.

So, as we dream of a future in which our cars no longer contain surgical gloves for grocery store trips, can you  tell us about the most comfortable car or truck you ever slept in?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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22 Comments on “QOTD: Next Stop, Slumberville?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’m not in the habit of sleeping in cars except on very long road trips, but as a kid my family made frequent road trips from Chicago to visit family in Denver and I have very fond memories of snoozing a big portion of the trip in my dad’s pre-downsized Sedan DeVilles and Fleetwoods. No greater cars were ever made for snoozing on such trips then the Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials of the 60s-70s

    Zzzzz :)

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      My old man bought a new Lincoln Town Car every two years back then, and they were wonderful sleepers. The cushioned upholstery was almost better than a mattress and there was PLENTY of room. We would drive them to Florida, Colorado, etc and sleep well every time.

      My own best sleeper was a 90s Yukon. With the back seat folded down, it had enough room for a full size mattress and some baggage on the sides. It was just like sleeping at home and much better than tent camping.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Well, my first car, a 1963 Rambler Classic 770, was a direct descendant of the aforementioned Nash, and still had those fold down front seat backs. But that wasn’t it.

    The car I used to go camping in was a 1963 Dodge Dart wagon, brown, with the big slant six, and Torqueflite (I’ll take the push buttons over the third pedal). It had curtains and the back seat folded flat. That was it.

    I never slept in any car except to camp. I always had a $50 bill in my wallet, good for a night at any Best Western.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I’ve never slept in a car out of necessity but I have been put in the back of one for sleep a couple of times.

    But… one time, my wife and I purposely slept in a car for two nights. It was 2001 and she had a 2000 Focus wagon. We had an annual camping trip with some of my co-workers. It wasn’t really about camping as much as it was about running a white water river. We did that once and didn’t enjoy it so the following year we just went to camp. The camping area was accessible by car so everyone drove there. We were the only attendees who intended to sleep in our car though. We brought a tent to store gear in but the plan was to sleep in the car. With the back seat folded down the Focus held a double air mattress. One of the nights it poured rain and we were off the ground and dry.

    We both still look back on that as a great time.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Bi-National is right. All the more reason why Trump’s silly side-wars with Canada and the EU are completely bonkers. He should have been building the coalition with them, not against them.

    That said, COVID is going to turn the tide. As the EU and US economies crash, and people suddenly recognize, “wow, we really do depend on China for everything”, there’s a’reckoning and rebalancing that is going to occur.

  • avatar
    Jon

    No matter how hard i try, my training prohibits me from sleeping in vehicles. Because of this, I always end up as the driver on long road trips. However, i can say that the only and least comfortable vehicle i have slept in is the rear seat of a Humvee.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    • Napping in a vehicle while someone else is driving is one of life’s great pleasures.

    • Sleeping overnight in a vehicle not optimized for overnight sleeping is generally terrible*.

    * As a young man I took a big solo road trip and spent one night in the car due to poor planning (pre-internet, relatively remote area, motorcycle rally sucked up all available rooms in the area). The smell alone the next morning convinced me that this was not the best way to live.

  • avatar
    CadiDrvr

    My father’s family would always leave for Spring Break between 2 & 2:30 in the morning. Being one of five, there were always a few vehicles.

    My favorites:
    -Uncle’s ’76 Olds 98 Regency, and ’78 Lincoln Continental Town Car
    -Parents ’73 Chevy Caprice Classic and ’78 Mercury Marquis Colony Park

    By the ’80s, the downsized cars just weren’t the same. (Although I did spend a memorable night at a high school party in the back of my mom’s ’84 Olds 98 Regency Brougham.)

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    I’m pretty sure the front seats of the Crown Victoria are more comfortable than my own bed.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    When I restored my ’65 Monza convertible in 1976 I snagged a pair of front seats from a wrecked Volvo 240.

    Now I had lumbar support, leather, reclinability and heat..

    Great for car camping and road trips.

    But it’s still amazing how a car body does almost nothing to keep you warm. It’s a giant heat sink pulling body warmth away from you when it gets really cold.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Does the back of a police car count?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As kids we often used to ‘camp out’ in the back of The Old Man’s 7th generation Country Squire.

    My kids used our Grand Caravans when camping rather than sleep in a tent in the rain or mud.

    However the best was my late 1970’s full size van, outfitted Disco Style with a twin mattress.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Dodge Maxi-van with only 1 passenger row of seats installed. Lots of room to spread out.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    It may have not looked comfortable but the Honda Element had back seats that could fold completely horizontal. Perfect for that afternoon lunchtime car nap at work. That and the tinted rear windows meant I could also sleep in peace.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    My first and second cars were both Pontiac Parisienne wagons, an ’82 followed by an ’88 ( with Overdrive! ). An air mattress; a foot-operated air pump; and a few blankets were always aboard. The 4X8 flat bed was perfect in those things, just like my two subsequent cars: Suburbans.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve slept in my old Mercedes front passenger seat many times, usually when out camping in Death Valley with a vintage Motocycle club becuase my injuries preclude me from sleeping in beds .

    I remember stretching out on the spacious back seat in my step father’s 1965 Plymouth full size station wagon when he took me sailing, I’m sure it wasn’t smart to lie down and sleep on the open highway with my feet out the window but it was relaxing, the hum of the tires and the 225 slant six purring along .

    Times have changed, sleeping in vehicles used to be part of traveling .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    In 2009 took a road trip from Florida to Arizona in my 90 Acura Integra 4dr and managed to sleep in this car for the entire 5 weeks. It was winter so the low temps were in the 20’s most night. I had lots of blankets and covered the floor around my feet and used others to make the seat comfortable and cover myself. I also slept layered in warm clothes. Somehow I pulled it off and I’m even normally a stomach sleeper, which was the position I was able to get into with the right strategic placement of blankets and pillows.
    Here’s a little video I made of it back then.

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