How much does it cost to build a street food vehicle?

By James Weber on May 15, 2023 2:41:21 PM

19 min read
street food vehicle cost blue fish and chips van

Building a street food vehicle encompasses a wide range of potential costs and services, depending upon your design and requirements.

In this article, I will explain the factors that can swing the price up and down, including the vehicle, design, power, plumbing, conversion, branding, staffing and financing.

Running a street food business has less start-up costs than establishing a restaurant, but it's not cheap either. You will most likely need to secure financing to be able to purchase and convert your vehicle into a quality mobile kitchen. 




As a ball park figure a street food vehicle conversion can cost anywhere from £20,000 - £30,000. Sourcing a vehicle for conversion generally costs in the region of £5,000 - £20,000. Fully restoring a vintage vehicle costs between £15,000 and £20,000. If you required all three of these services you could easily spend upwards of £60,000.

After hearing that, paying for your food truck might seem like an impossibility, but don’t click off this article just yet!

Securing finance to start your business isn't hard or stressful, as you aren't asking anywhere near the amount of money most brick and mortar businesses need to get started. 

Read how to finance a food truck if you aren't sure how to secure funds. This in depth guide will explain all your potential options, helping you turn those street food dreams into a real functioning business.

Even if you don't have great credit we have provided plenty of options and links to reputable companies who can inject the cash into your business that will get you off the ground.


Street food vehicle prices at a glance

Below is a pricing table showing the various services that contribute to the total cost of a street food vehicle. While these price ranges are accurate, they are only estimates not guarantees.

Depending on the number and extent of services you require, your bill might be far less or more than the sum total of what is shown here.

Service categories






Sourcing and purchasing your vehicle.

£5,000 - £20,000


Fully restoring a vintage vehicle.

£15,000 - £20,000


CAD Drawings

Initial floor plan and internal elevation drawings for client approval, including survey, scaling of space available and consultation with client to agree primary scope of works.

£300 - £700

2D Visualisation & Design

To create 2D design visuals of the exterior of the vehicle and the interior layout and theming, including all branding elements. To include standard logo and brand design for the client using a design brief.

£500 -£1,000



EcoFlow DELTA Pro Portable Power Station.

£3,200 per unit

Solar Panel

EcoFlow 100W Flexible Solar Panel.

£109 per panel

Solar Panel Install

To install solar panels to roof of a vehicle, connect cables and feed to input source. To include set up and testing of power solution. Excludes any products required.



1st and 2nd fix electrical installation for the vehicle. To include external hook- up, consumer unit and installation of electrical sockets. Completed to NICEIC certification standard.



Installation of main lighting and any additional feature lighting where required.

£400 - £1,400

Gas Installation

Certified installation of gas supply including a vented storage area with external access. All pipes and connectors included. Connect, set up and test of equipment.

£1,100 - £2,100


To install a twin sink with plumbing and water heater to a vehicle. To include clean and waste water pipes and containers & water heater.

£1,100 – £2,100


Equipment Installation

To install the client supplied catering equipment into the vehicle. Connect, test and certify operational.

£700 - £1,700

Extraction Unit

Commercial extraction unit, including filtration. Built to the exact vehicle requirement with integrated, heat resistant fan and all required ducting. Installation included with all necessary fixing brackets.

£1,400 - £2,800

Hatch Conversion

Cutting of hatch opening in bodywork of the vehicle. To fabricate the new hatch with structural framing, lightweight materials. To include hinges, gas struts, locking mechanism and installation to the vehicle.

£2,500 - £3,500

Wall Cladding

To clad and line the internal walls of the vehicle, to create walling and to create durable and hygienic surfaces.

£2,700 - £3,700

Kitchen Counters

Box section framing for the counters powder coated paint finish. Folded stainless steel work surfaces. Undercounter shelving and cupboards as per approved drawings and scope of works.

£5,900 - £6,900


To supply and install non-slip commercial flooring to the vehicle, installed on a plywood base.

£700 - £1,700

Roof Sign

Roof mounted retractable sign. Hinged frame, aluminium sign panel with single sided graphic design. If a more bespoke sign is required, this will be quoted on an individual basis once specification is agreed.

£1,300 - £2,300


Vinyl wrap production and installation

Using the final approved graphical design, we will produce the graphics using a premium vehicle wrapping film and fully wrap the exterior paint surfaces in your design, to a high standard.

£2,700 - £3,700


Project Manager

Dedicated project manager to provide campaign support relating to scheduling, planning and management across the project. This is a daily rate, based on 8 hours. Additional hours are charged on a pro-rata basis.

£415 per day




The cost of the vehicle itself is hard to forecast as vehicle price is obviously variable. As I said above the cost of your vehicle will vary depending on age, condition, model, make and mileage, factors that all deserve your consideration.

Sourcing a vehicle yourself may not be something you want to do if you are inexperienced, especially if you want a vintage vehicle. In cases like this it might be better to ask for the help of the company who you want to convert your vehicle.

They will have the experience necessary to help you purchase a vehicle appropriate for your requirements. It’s worth noting that most companies take on this task as a paid additional service.

If you want to source and purchase a vehicle yourself, don’t put a couple of grand down on the cheapest vehicle you can find; it might seem like a sweet deal right now, but try thinking long term.

If you’re investing in this vehicle as a serious business asset, you need something reliable, not a clapped out old banger that’s been rusting away in someone’s shed for a couple of decades.

It might seem cheap at first, but the maintenance costs of running a vehicle well past its prime are steep. Think in terms of value not just cost. Something with mid-range mileage and price will suit you far better for a business vehicle, than an end of life junker.

This is especially important if you have your heart set on a vintage vehicle as they can be deceptively cheap. What you may not realise is that whilst the cost of initial purchase is low, the cost of restoring the vehicle to a roadworthy state, is not. It also takes a very long time too, so factor an extra 3-6 months into your lead time.Rusty Citroen H-van

Just as an example, a rusted up Citroen H-Van that hasn’t moved in decades can easily cost £15,000-£20,000 to fully restore.

restored white H-vanThe cost to then convert this vehicle for street food would then add a further £20,000 - £30,000 to that figure. Projects of this nature often range from £50,000-£60,000 total.

Fenwick Citroen H-Van

The final problem that tends to swing vehicle costs up and down is picking the wrong vehicle in the first place. Ideally you settle on the food you want to serve before you choose a vehicle, aiming to find a vehicle suitable for preparing and serving the food you want to sell.

Don’t choose the vehicle first, the food is the most important thing; redesigning a menu and a business plan to fit a specific vehicle is never worth your while.

If you buy the vehicle first without thinking it through, you can easily end up with a useless vehicle that you now have to sell. Don’t choose the vehicle over the food, your menu is your product line, the most important part of your business and what keeps your customers coming back for more.

Just get it right the first time by planning out every step of your new business. Trust me - you don’t want to be the guy trying to squeeze a pizza oven into the back of a Ford Escort!



The design of your street food vehicle will affect how you operate in the kitchen for years to come, so it’s not something you can afford to get wrong.

That’s why we work with you through every step of the design process, ensuring your project’s success.

CAD Drawings and renders will average £1000 total. If you happen to be a graphic designer then you may save a bit of money if you can produce the designs yourself.

However, if you have never worked with vehicle templates before this may not be advisable. Translating a 3D design onto a 2D template, and vice versa, isn't as simple as you might think.



Having your power systems installed professionally is critical to the long term safety and success as a street food business owner. Margins are thin and you may even operate at a loss initially, meaning you cannot afford to have anything break or go wrong.

If you aren’t qualified to do the work yourself, it’s best to have the work done by the same company doing your conversion. This avoids confusion that leads to costly mistakes down the road, like your sockets being in the wrong place for your griddle pans, fridges or microwaves.

Make sure the work is carried out by professionals and certified by a regulatory body like NICEIC. This prevents you from wasting your money on a dodgy power system that then has to be gutted for a do-over.

Power sources

Your street food truck will need an independent source of power to run your mobile kitchen, you can’t run it off the engine. Most venues won’t allow you to idle an engine as it produces emissions and is a safety risk. Your engine can’t run every appliance anyway, nor is it economical to try, so investing in a reliable source of power is essential.

It’s best to opt for adaptable power systems that allow for a degree of flexibility in unpredictable circumstances. This means you always have a back up if you get caught out.EcoFLow Lithium Battery

For example, although you are likely to run most of your appliances off of a large battery like the EcoFlow pictured left, it’s also a good idea to include an external socket so that you can make use of external power sources offered or sometimes mandated by venues.

Venue power is rarely free though, so the addition of relatively inexpensive solar panels to the roof can help you stay energy independent, and are a great options for greener thinking businesses. We prefer to use EcoFlow’s solar panel systems as they have an excellent energy efficiency rating of 23%, don’t overheat and still perform well in gloomy weather, which sadly the UK is all too prone to.

Unfortunately appliances as power consumptive as ovens are currently too impractical to run off of electricity alone. Most street food builds use gas ovens with a vented external storage area for the gas supply. This is the most practical and economic option for most businesses.

It generally costs about £8,700 for our full range of power services, including a battery for appliances, gas power installation and testing for ovens, solar panel purchase and installation, electrics and lighting.


Plumbingstreet food truck plumbing 

Functional plumbing is a necessity for any kitchen, so make sure you scale your plumbing to your needs.

Our plumbing services average £1,600 and include the installation of a double sink and water heater, as well as a clean and dirty water system.

Generally you need two sinks in a commercial kitchen, one for hand washing and one for washing equipment such as pots and pans.

We set up our plumbing systems as a clean and waste water system, hooked up to external tanks for storing clean water and collecting waste water. This makes it easy to remove and replace tanks as needed.



Conversion or build services cover a wide variety of options, which may or may not be a requirement for you depending on the type of food you are planning to serve.

As mentioned previously the price of conversion will vary vehicle to vehicle, so the range shown above is only an estimate.

Serving hatch installation

Installing a serving hatch is skilled work that should always be undertaken by a professional. Your hatch allows you to engage with and serve customers, so it needs to be reliable, safe and as secure as any other part of your vehicle.

stainless steel cladding, kitchen counters and extraction unit street food vehicleWalls and flooring

We recommend non-slip flooring and stainless steel cladding for every street food vehicle, but obviously the choice is up to you.

The materials we use provide hygienic, easy to clean surfaces that save you time at the end of the working day.

Kitchen counters

Our teams customise kitchen counters to your specifications, which is why this service is more costly than you might expect. We typically use stainless steel for the surfaces, incorporating shelving and cupboards as per your design.

Serving hatch installation, stainless steel cladding and non-slip flooring together costs about £7,400 total.

Extraction unit

Extraction units are an essential part of a safe and healthy kitchen workplace, and they are also a legal requirement. The price of the unit will vary according to amount of and size of equipment you are working with as typically the unit needs to cover all cooking areas.

Extraction units don’t come cheap and can easily double in price if you need a larger model. We typically see prices range form £1,400- £2,800 as a result.

The best way of keeping this sort of cost down is by designing your cooking spaces ergonomically, i.e. keeping all the cooking areas close to each other .This will prevent you having to splurge on a much larger unit because your griddle and your oven top are too far apart.

Equipment installation

Installation costs will vary depending on how much equipment you need us to install, but the average is about £1,200.

If you are able to install items yourself this is a place where you can save on cost, but make sure you know what you are doing.

Installation includes securing all equipment to the vehicle so that nothing can get damaged on the road, and we will also test and certify that all equipment is in proper working order.

Roof sign

A very useful but optional extra, a roof sign can help you stand out and attract more customers. Our roof signs are retractable for safe driving and are typically branded on one side with a graphic of your choice.

If you want a more bespoke sign, for instance double sided or a 3D prop shaped like your logo or food, then the price could be higher than the range shown in the pricing chart. A good detachable roof sign usually costs about £1,800.



As a vehicle wrap specialist, we can also offer our graphical expertise to you. After working with you to establish an eye catching on-brand design, we will print your graphic onto a layer of premium quality vinyl, which will then be wrapped around every exterior painted surface on your vehicle.

Producing and installing the branded wrap costs around £3,200. It may seem a little pricy, but a full vehicle wrap is the kind of investment that quickly pays for itself.

Your vehicle becomes a 360 degree mobile billboard, advertising who you are and what you do far more quickly and effectively, than simple signage or lettering.

You don't have to get a full vehicle wrap if you are trying to save money; you can opt for simple stickers, decals or even just plain lettering, but you won't generate the same level of impact on passers by. 

Low key branding Susans Cruisin CuisineJust check out the difference between the low key approach taken by recent client Susan Curry above, and the all in approach taken by client Cockburn's below. Which branding do you think is more effective?

Cockburn's mobile bar Citroen H-VanA high quality wrap also helps you build a reputation with customers, even if you haven’t interacted with them yet. A professional looking vehicle gives the impression of a seasoned and experienced business, and therefore food worth trying.

If you already have a food related business and you wanted a street food vehicle to help raise brand awareness, get a full vehicle wrap for your vehicle: it will make a world of difference, and can be more effective than google ad or other traditional forms of advertising.

For more information, check out vehicle wrapping ROI vs traditional advertising for a full cost benefit breakdown.



Building street food vehicles is a complex task; we bring together talent encompassing graphic design, engineering, construction, metal work, fabrication, carpentry, plumbing, electrical engineering, painting, vehicle wrapping and much more all under one roof!

Managing a single project therefore requires an experienced eye a steady hand, problem solving skills and a lot of patience.

Our project managers are all that and more, so at £415 a day they don’t come cheap, but they are necessary if you want your project completed on time and under budget.

The pricing works pro rata, meaning that any hours after the first day are charged by the hour, instead of by the day, meaning you are unlikely to end up with a significant management related bill.


What are my next steps?

If you are happy with the cost of a street food truck and want to take a step closer to bringing your food truck to life, go to our street food vehicle checklist.

You can use the checklist to make sure you have all the information you need, such as a business plan, design, menu and financing.

If everything is in order, navigate to the bottom of the page, where you can fill in the enquiry form. You’ll get a reply within 24 hours, and we can get the ball rolling. Look forward to hearing from you and good luck with your future business!

James Weber

Written by James Weber

Content Manager