Camper Van advice

tom73

Veteran
Location
Yorkshire
Now we only have my Aygo as our car fitting in the two of us , a dog and camping stuff is not easy.
We've been thinking for a long time about a camper van and have looked off on and over the years.
As next year marks 20 years since we got married we though it would be a great time to finally get one.
So What advice has anyone got ?
We are not looking at going a conversion ourselves though are happy to have something that just need's a bit of extra work.
As we have most of the normal camping stuff so not a big issues if the gas or what ever is not set up.
open to the idea of buying a van and having it converted have seen a few prices though not sure what a round about figure normal is.
Open to any make of van as long as it's economical and reliable. We don't need motor home just a nice sized van that can fit the three of us in and is up to job.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
I'd have a look on autotrader to get some ideas. Quite a few tidy conversions come up for £10k-£15k. There seems to be a growing market for the 'new conversions'. Been looking myself, as I've seen a few Berlingo 'day camper' conversions that look very handy.
 

Dave Davenport

Legendary Member
Location
Hampshire
We bought a new Citroen Despatch 18 months ago and got it fitted out with (opening) rear windows, a fold out bed frame (which comes out from two bolts) and lined out/insulated for about £1800. We just use a Gaz stove and coolbox etc. and rig up a tarp if we're stopping anywhere for long. The load space is just a little less than a Transit and it does about 44mpg overall, which is about the best you'll get for that size van. It's nice to drive and not too big when parking etc. We're really pleased with it.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
We bought a new Citroen Despatch 18 months ago and got it fitted out with (opening) rear windows, a fold out bed frame (which comes out from two bolts) and lined out/insulated for about £1800. We just use a Gaz stove and coolbox etc. and rig up a tarp if we're stopping anywhere for long. The load space is just a little less than a Transit and it does about 44mpg overall, which is about the best you'll get for that size van. It's nice to drive and not too big when parking etc. We're really pleased with it.
Pics !!
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I'd have a look on autotrader to get some ideas. Quite a few tidy conversions come up for £10k-£15k. There seems to be a growing market for the 'new conversions'. Been looking myself, as I've seen a few Berlingo 'day camper' conversions that look very handy.
A friend of mine bought a converted Nissan NV200 with only 25,000 miles on the clock for about £10k.

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I haven't been in it but it look pretty good!
 

Wookee

Well-Known Member
Location
East Herts
I have a VW T5 that I finished the conversion on myself having bought it part done.

I've previously converted a T5 from a panel van to a camper with my uncle-in-law and that cost about £3.5k for a proper fit out with some good quality stuff. He sold that for a tidy profit a few years later when he stopped using it.

I've seen that the prices on eBay etc have risen sharply with the current situation and wouldn't be looking to buy anything camper related at the moment. Not that it makes a huge deal of difference, but the DVSA changed the rules in 2018 so that anything converted now has to abide by the new rules which means that most of the recently converted stuff you are seeing will never be eligible to be shown as a 'motor caravan' on the V5.

With that in mind and to save you the "VW tax" I would look for any make crew van that has the extra windows in the side/s and ideally with the rear boarded out. Failing that; find a boarded out panel van (most have 3 seats up front) and get the window/s cut out and put in if you don't fancy doing it yourself. Then insulate it and carpet the walls and ceiling and put a utilitarian floor in. From that point you have a very usable space and can build from there if you want.

Without the window/s it'll be dark and pokey, without the insulation and lining it'll be cold, damp and noisy.
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
We have a coachbuilt Luxo Moho, our 3rd in a short space of time, though often we think a smaller panel-van conversion might be more useful. In my youth I had a small van I would camp in, so small and simple appeals.
It depends a lot on how you wish to use the van....
Some thoughts. Small vans like @ColinJ are ace as are the old VW stylee with rock and Roll beds, BUT it depends if you're happy with restricted space and limited storage. Whilst they're fine on a warm dry day, when a long way from home and it's been pi55ing down for days you can't stand-up straight and you need Origami to pack and set the bed they might lose their magic.
Ducato/Boxer/Sprinter based vans either custom made or custom converted add a lot more space and flexibility especially the higher-roofed versions, keep to 6m and parking is not an issue. Toilets and showers usually standard and built-in cooking space
There are also a myriad of clever awning systems to enhance and enlarge the basic van experience.
Or, build your own, as simple or as complex as you want to meet your needs (@Wookee idea is one I would do if it was me, but partner has other needs!).. There are some excellent fb groups such as 'Self Build Campers and Real Life' and many others for those doing their own thing. Lots of advice and similar groups

So think about how and why, where and when:
4 Seasons - need good insulation/heating
Days or weeks away - level of comfort, storage, ease of bed make-up/permanent beds, how to deal with wet clothing
Sites or wild/off grid camping - Toilets/hygiene, Solar power, Gas supply quantity, food storage, water capacity/waste capacity
Bikes - secure storage
Outdoor kit storage - comfy chairs, awning, table etc


A good idea is go and look at lots of vans, lots of them! Shows, local dealers etc. There a lot of variety and good ideas everywhere, and if you can hire one all the better.

For us - permanent longitudinal beds, lounge we can both stretch-out on, room for 2 dogs, decent sized shower (also for drying wet kit), Fully winterised, garage/large kit storage with easy access, 7m or smaller, large waste/water/gas/Solar for many days off-grid in remote location, good sized fridge + Freezer.

For you guys....start writing a list, do your research on web/fb and go look at a lot!!


EDIT - have read of some rust issues with Sprinters and the Mazda Bongo/Frendee types as apparently lack UK rustproofing.
 
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Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Are you after a camper or a small motorhome? sure, at a pinch you can actually sleep overnight in a camper, but they're really not ideal for overnight use. Used motorhomes, 10-15 years old and low mileage, can be had very clean for about 7 or 8 large upwards if you shop about, which is cheaper than a decent camper. Depending on the camper, motorhomes are usually cheaper to tax and insure as well.

whichever way you go, enjoy!
 

Phaeton

Grumpy Old Barstool
Location
Oop North (ish)
How big is the budget? I know a guy who is selling his 10 years old motorhome, with over 200K on the clock, he wants £65K he's replacing it with another which is costing him £145K, guy across the road has just bought an Iveco van £1500 & fitting it out himself, different ends of the same scale.
 

Wookee

Well-Known Member
Location
East Herts
We have a coachbuilt Luxo Moho, our 3rd in a short space of time, though often we think a smaller panel-van conversion might be more useful. In my youth I had a small van I would camp in, so small and simple appeals.
It depends a lot on how you wish to use the van....
Some thoughts. Small vans like @ColinJ are ace as are the old VW stylee with rock and Roll beds, BUT it depends if you're happy with restricted space and limited storage. Whilst they're fine on a warm dry day, when a long way from home and it's been pi55ing down for days you can't stand-up straight and you need Origami to pack and set the bed they might lose their magic.
Ducato/Boxer/Sprinter based vans either custom made or custom converted add a lot more space and flexibility especially the higher-roofed versions, keep to 6m and parking is not an issue. Toilets and showers usually standard and built-in cooking space
There are also a myriad of clever awning systems to enhance and enlarge the basic van experience.
Or, build your own, as simple or as complex as you want to meet your needs (@Wookee idea is one I would do if it was me, but partner has other needs!).. There are some excellent fb groups such as 'Self Build Campers and Real Life' and many others for those doing their own thing. Lots of advice and similar groups

So think about how and why, where and when:
4 Seasons - need good insulation/heating
Days or weeks away - level of comfort, storage, ease of bed make-up/permanent beds, how to deal with wet clothing
Sites or wild/off grid camping - Toilets/hygiene, Solar power, Gas supply quantity, food storage, water capacity/waste capacity
Bikes - secure storage
Outdoor kit storage - comfy chairs, awning, table etc


A good idea is go and look at lots of vans, lots of them! Shows, local dealers etc. There a lot of variety and good ideas everywhere, and if you can hire one all the better.

For us - permanent longitudinal beds, lounge we can both stretch-out on, room for 2 dogs, decent sized shower (also for drying wet kit), Fully winterised, garage/large kit storage with easy access, 7m or smaller, large waste/water/gas/Solar for many days off-grid in remote location, good sized fridge + Freezer.

For you guys....start writing a list, do your research on web/fb and go look at a lot!!


EDIT - have read of some rust issues with Sprinters and the Mazda Bongo/Frendee types as apparently lack UK rustproofing.
My wife too 'has other needs' otherwise we would spend a lot more time away in ours.:rolleyes:

I have a fridge and small freezer, cooker, sink bed long enough for me at 6'5 and enough storage for a week away for the both of us at a campsite. The porta-potty is not my wife's idea of 'luxury' so it has to be at a campsite. Though it has solar power and I can happily live off-grid in it if I wanted to and in a year or so it may well be my wfh location. I can't stand up in mine but it has never really bothered me as we have an awning.

When I retire I will probably get something VW Crafter size and fit that out with a fixed bed and a bathroom cubicle.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Small vans like @ColinJ are ace as are the old VW stylee with rock and Roll beds, BUT it depends if you're happy with restricted space and limited storage. Whilst they're fine on a warm dry day, when a long way from home and it's been pi55ing down for days you can't stand-up straight and you need Origami to pack and set the bed they might lose their magic.
I am 6' 1" tall and would find the Nissan van conversion pretty cramped whereas my friend is tiny (5' 2"-ish) so the restricted space isn't as much of an issue for her. She is also used to wild camping so what storage and facilities there are in the van probably seem like luxury to her. I would be like @Wookee's wife and want campsite facilities!
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
My wife too 'has other needs' otherwise we would spend a lot more time away in ours.:rolleyes:

I have a fridge and small freezer, cooker, sink bed long enough for me at 6'5 and enough storage for a week away for the both of us at a campsite. The porta-potty is not my wife's idea of 'luxury' so it has to be at a campsite. Though it has solar power and I can happily live off-grid in it if I wanted to and in a year or so it may well be my wfh location. I can't stand up in mine but it has never really bothered me as we have an awning.

When I retire I will probably get something VW Crafter size and fit that out with a fixed bed and a bathroom cubicle.
To be fair I'm happy with a bicycle, a bivvy and a pocket stove!
 

Phaeton

Grumpy Old Barstool
Location
Oop North (ish)
I've considered one on a few occasions, but one concern is if you are away then if you want to go anywhere you have to pack everything, up whereas a caravan you can go off in the car. But horses for courses
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
I am 6' 1" tall and would find the Nissan van conversion pretty cramped whereas my friend is tiny (5' 2"-ish) so the restricted space isn't as much of an issue for her. She is also used to wild camping so what storage and facilities there are in the van probably seem like luxury to her. I would be like @Wookee's wife and want campsite facilities!
It's exactly these kinds of issues that really need working through. We were told that it won't be until about your 3rd Motorhome until you get it right...and they were right! Over the years we seem to need less storage as we naturally get smarter at what we take and what we really use/need.

For value (new) these are hard to beat! https://www.practicalmotorhome.com/reviews/ventura-vr200
Like a VW but waaaay more space.
 
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