Cars have been an integral part of the Bender family since 1949, when Bud Bender opened Bud’s Auto Body in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Bud passed down a love of cars to his son, Gary, who served for 34 years as the shop foreman at Knauz Motors, a Mercedes-Benz dealership in nearby Lake Forest, Illinois. Gary and his wife, Carol, raised two sons with similar automotive passion; their first son, Tom, began working with Gary on cars at age 17, and he restored his first vehicle, a 1990 VW Corrado G60 in nugget yellow, from start to finish at age 19. Their second son, Jeff, took on his first full restoration project at 16 and later worked in quality control for Mercedez-Benz at Knauz Motors. More recently, Jeff restored a 1991 GTI and a VW Wolfsburg TDI Jetta from the ground up before turning his attention to a 2001 Audi Wagon.
Today, the Bender family live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where ACME Overland was founded in 2016. Tom Bender and his wife, Jessica, were having great success with their local weekend adventure getaways, but when it came to longer-term excursions, they were feeling restricted in their road travel by inclement weather, unappealing highway hotels, and an expanding family that included their Malamute puppy, Echo. Jessica and Tom were on the hunt for an adventure vehicle that could accommodate their sleeping and storage needs in summer or winter, for work or play—and a converted cargo van was the ticket. But the options on the market were either scrapped-together DIYs or flashy and overdone glamper vans.
After a long and unfulfilled search for the perfect vehicle, Jessica and Tom decided the solution was clear: they would create their own. Harnessing their mutual professional experience in refined engineering, product design, building materials and upholstery, and cabinet design, Jessica and Tom envisioned and designed the full conversion of a Mercedes Sprinter van that completely fit the bill. That initial van conversion project was just the first of many to come as they grounded the ACME Overland business with the guidance, technical expertise, and moral support of its original team members: Gary, Carol, and Jeff.
Today ACME Overland has an established reputation for expertly transforming empty shells into efficient and capable adventure vehicles. After careful consultation and planning on each project, we combine our detailed craftsmanship, keen design, and a wide selection of hard-wearing materials to provide each client with the vehicle that’s just right for them.