/ Van/Campervan/Car

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gavmac on 06 Jan 2017
Yes, I know, there are a hundred threads on this but would love the advice of the UKC collective.

Currently thinking of getting rid of the car (Peugeot 207) and would love to get something I can spend the night in and maybe up to a week in.

Important factors:

1- I'll still be using the vehicle for commuting, day to day- so fuel economy is important.
2- The budget is fairly low- £2,500- £4000
3- I'm rubbish at DIY, so the simplest of conversions would be a struggle for me.

I'm based in the Highlands, so the primary uses would be winter climbing, short summer trips to crags (2/3 days).

I started with things like the Bongo in my mind but the fuel economy is a major issue, so my thoughts changed to the Doblo in terms of a good compromise. I don't know, guide me oh great ones.
annieman - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Have a look at http://www.amdro.co.uk/gallery.php Sadly IMO the gallery or website doesn't do the product justice. Take a Berlingo or similar size van/car add an Amdro and you can have a reasonable camper whilst retaining a lot of the Car aspects.

I've seen the kit beng used and it will answer some or most of your questions.
guy127917 - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

You could have a look at the Nissan NV200- the 1.5 is economical and nice to drive, they are not too big for day-to-day but will still be cosy in the back with a bit of work. You can pick up <60k mileage models for around 4k.
gavmac on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to annieman:


The first thing I think of as a Highlander, watching the demo video, with the cooking out the back is weather and midges! It's quite a nifty design otherwise.
Vector686 on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Simonfarfaraway - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:
I was in a similiar position to you (bit bigger budget though), and toyed between Peugeot Partner type vehicle and Boot Jump, or small van that's semi converted.

Always having dreamed of a van (not sure why!)... in the end I bought an ex BG VW caddy maxi and got it converted, lined/insulation, lights/leisure battery and rock and roll bed. I only got it sorted in Oct ish.

What do I think now...... I miss having a car, and being able to more easily carry passengers... I haven't slept in it yet, know I could but without a diesel heater (which I couldn't afford at the time) its pretty baltic. I'm just about to try and get it reclassified as a car derived van so I can legally drive it faster on the roads and feel happier about carrying passengers on the rock and roll bed seat (with seat belts).

I hope it comes into its own next spring - Autumn as being newly based in the Highlands when you trip out to the west coast or far North often options on places to stay or even get food/eat can be very limited. BTW the conversion is very good, it looks smart just not using it as I thought I would at present.

I looked at the Nissan van, very economical and has more usable headroom than my caddy, just a bit 'rolly' to drive with tiny wheels.

I'm going to give mine a year, if I use it (sleep in it) this year I'll probably keep it, if not I'll go back to a SUV/berlingo type that I can fit all my bikes/outdoor crap in and occasionally sleep in.. Good luck... let us know what you go for?!
Post edited at 12:31
Hat Dude on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

If you get a van with a tailgate you could try one of these, they are designed for the VW Caddy but are supposed to fit Berlingos, Doblos etc


I have one for my Caddy and it's very good, you can stand at the back of the van to cook and there's room for 2 camping chairs and small table
gavmac on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Simonfarfaraway:

Good to hear your thought process!

I shall procrastinate, no doubt, over the coming weeks.
Hugh Janus - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to guy127917:

> You could have a look at the Nissan NV200

I have the predecessor in the Nissan Vanette. Very reliable as Japanese motors tend to be and very simple, therefore cheap to maintain and fix when it goes wrong. I did have problems whilst driving in heavy snow once, ended up going backwards after taking a round about at about 10 mph. But the Vanette has a lot bigger tyres than the NV200, so the Vanette probably doesn't cut through the snow as well as the NV200. It's also rear wheel drive, not sure about the NV200. My vanette makes a great camper van (windows all round), and I just throw my boulder mat in the back and use camping equipment, which has the benefit that I can still use it as a van.

I have heard that due to it's small wheels the NV200 can be a bit of an uncomfortable ride on our pothole filled roads though. But I'm still thinking of getting one after the sad day comes when my Vanette passes away.
Ben Sharp - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:
Always wanted a van as well but stuck with the subaru outback in the end. Took out the back seats and ply lined with a fold down bed and a lowered seating platform. A van would be more comfortable but it suits my needs for winter climbing perfectly and it's roomy enough for two in the summer. It's quite a small estate inside as estates go hence taking the seats out to make more room but most big estates are nice to sleep in as is - old volvos, passats, mondeos etc. The benefit of being able to drive a car and get to camping spots off the beaten track without the worry of getting a van stuck outweigh the head room for me, I'm only in it a handful of times a year so justifying carrying a campervan conversion around in a van where 90% of the time it'll just be driving me to work and back wasn't worth it. If a van is like living at home with shit heating then a car is like camping but you've got somewhere warm and dry to sit, sleep and cook and you don't have a wet tent to f about with.

Having said that I think I'll be selling it shortly and doing the same thing with a 110, if funds allow.
Post edited at 09:34
gavmac on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Thanks Ben, good info.

I think it's coming down to how often i'll use it for sleeping in and for how long. Living in the Highlands really does require it to work as an 'every day' vehicle.

I may have to go and try out the back of a few estates for size! (6,3 height here)
Jim C - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I understand your logic Ben , what van would you have if you were about to retire, with no drive to work required, only outdoor pursuits, and also had two young grandchildren ?
pec on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

When I last changed my car I was also after something I could sleep in for weekends. I ruled out a van, more expensive insurance and I need to carry passengers sometimes and I didn't want anything too big.
I looked at the boxy car/van things like the Citroen Berlingo/ Renault Kangoo etc with a view to making an Amdro style boot jump but decided they were all too small.
In the end I went for a 7 seater MPV, a mk.2 VW Sharan (almost identical to the Ford Galaxy and seat Alhambra). I got a 10 year old car with 100k miles on it for £3,400 with FSH, not cheap but you get a lot of car for your money.
With the back 2 seats removed (stored permanently in the garage) its a large 5 seater estate with a HUGE boot and with all rear seats out its a mid sized van. I've made some plywood boxes and foil bubble wrap blinds which I can fit in minutes to convert it to camper mode with ample storage and a 6'6" long bed. The front seats rotate to face the back so the sleeping platform doubles as a table.
Some pictures of it here
The 1.9Tdi engine is noted for its longevity, there are loads of them around with over 200k miles on the clock and it does 43mpg on an "average" tank but nearer 50 on straight runs (A roads and M'ways), occasionally over 50.
I'm sure you could do a similar thing with the Citroen/Peugoet 7 seater which has the very reliable 2.0Hdi engine, although slighly less economical (about 39mpg). Avoid the Renault Espace which has shocking reliability and a cambelt change timebomb under the bonnet.

I can give you more info on the Sharan/Galaxy/Alhambra or my plywood box creation if you're interested.
Ben Sharp - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Jim C:

Probably an old VW split screen, if you're retiring then you've got plenty time to restore it then keep fixing it as it breaks down! A more practical option might be one of the 4x4 ex gas/power works vans, nice and roomy and go anywhere.
Ben Sharp - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Most estates will do 6'3 with the front seats forward but you'll just need something to bridge the gap between the back and front seats or some kind of platform. I can't remember what length mine is with the seats right forward but it's definitely more than 6'3 and as I say the outback is a pretty small estate inside. I used to have a focus which was huge in the back and I imagine the modeo is even bigger. Not sure about the newer ones but certainly the older ones used to be really well designed in the back with tiny wheel arches and a big square loading area and flat floor which was perfect for sleeping in.
gavmac on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Thanks, sounds really interesting. Would love to see more info on that.
gavmac on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Ben Sharp:

As I suspected, I'm going to have to go around lying in the back of estates to test them out!
jkarran - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

If you're daily commuting any distance then get a car that works for that commute, it's 95%+ of the use the car will get, why compromise that. An estate car and indeed many mid-large hatchbacks provide ample space for a 6' person to lie flat and about as much headroom as a tent. The only 'conversion' needed is to chuck a pad in, beef up the parcel shelf for off-floor storage, get a midgeproof mesh window vent, curtain to hang between front seat grab handles and cut some blinds from an old rollmat that can be pushed/velcroed into the remaining window holes.
Neil Williams - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Talking of PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) avoid anything with the 1.6 HDi engine in it. It's terrible, in particular if it is not maintained precisely to spec it will start eating turbos, and once it starts it won't stop. Wouldn't even consider one used unless it had full main-dealer service history, and even then you assume *they* read the instructions...would probably be OK from new if servicing yourself I guess.

2.0 is I believe fine.
ianstevens - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Nobody said Skoda Octavia Estate yet? Van fuel economy is shite and as an aside you don't look like a lost builder.
knighty - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

I bought a van that was already converted last year. Best thing I've ever done. Spending time in it is a real pleasure and it encourages you to get out and use it even more.
robal - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Buy a car, the camper/van is something that you'll use a few times a year and will sacrifice comfort, fuel economy and usability on a daily basis.

I know a lot of people who own t5 campers and they swear by them and say they'll change your life, but also bought daily drives after having bought them and they reside on their drive for 45-50 weeks of the year....
jethro kiernan - on 11 Jan 2017
gavmac on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to jethro kiernan:

'No additional sex since buying it...'

Well that's my decision made, car it is.
86inch - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to robal:

> I know a lot of people who own t5 campers and they swear by them and say they'll change your life, but also bought daily drives after having bought them and they reside on their drive for 45-50 weeks of the year....

I agree with this, and we have a T5. Our intention was to keep one car and use the van as a second "daily driver" for occaisional use, but in the end we bought another car so have 3 altogether now. Possibly only because we spent alot on it and we're precious about it. Whilst T5s are great to drive they aren't really that good as a daily driver IMHO.

To the OP, i think a large estate car might be the better option.
1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> the ever reliable daily mash has some thoughts

I think the mash need to get themselves down to a popular Spanish climbing area.
jethro kiernan - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:

massive increase in van related sex?
jimtitt - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

I also run a mk2 Galaxy (VW clone). Being able to sit upright, get your clothes off and actually move around is the huge benefit over estate cars if you are a big guy like me and getting older/stiffer. I just use an inflatable king size matress in mine! Fits two and all the junk easily.
I´ ve had plenty of vans but for 90% driving/10% camping they are a waste of time and money.
pec on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Talking of PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) avoid anything with the 1.6 HDi engine in it. It's terrible, . . . . . etc >

In general I'd avoid small diesel engines, many appear to offer great fuel economy and plenty of b.h.p. but that performance comes at a price which is longevity and many struggle to reach 100k miles without self destructing.

> 2.0 is I believe fine. >

Yes, its a very tried and trusted engine which if regularly serviced (and don't forget cambelt changes in good time) should easily cover 200,000 miles and more. We did a 5,000 mile round trip to Norway 18 months ago in a Peugeot 406 which had 230k miles on it at the time and its still running with close on 250K now.

pec on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

> Thanks, sounds really interesting. Would love to see more info on that. >

The Sharan/Galaxy/Alhambra was a collaboration between VW (engines) and Ford (body) introduced in '95 with minor modifications until 2006 when Ford went alone with a completely new design, the Sharan/Alhambra carried on until 09 (possibly 10?) before a major redesign.
There are only a few cosmetic differences between the different makes (they were all made in the same factory anyway). New, the VW's cost more and the Alhambra was cheapest but at the age I was looking at there was no noticeable difference.

The deisels all shared the 1.9Tdi engine until the very last year or so (2009?) when some got VW's 2.0Tdi. I believe this is supposed to be a bit more refined (but the 1.9 seems fine to me) but less durable and for that reason alone I'd get a 1.9.

The rear seats are all removable easily to switch between 7, 5 and 2 seats. If I want more storage space I can take out all the rear seats, in the photos I've left the middle row in with the sleeping platform over the top of them.

After the major redesign (Ford '06 and VW '09) the seats fold into the floor, possibly more convenient but I don't know how it affects the internal space. As far as I know none of the new shapes have a spare wheel which rules them out for me. The new shapes also have sliding rear doors which the old shapes didn't if that makes a difference.

If buying one, watch out for wheel arch rust (Ford bodies!) and especially bodged up resprays and check the aircon works properly. It should be icy and don't be fobbed off by being told it just needs a regas. Its a common fault, if it doesn't work assume it needs a new compressor (about £400 fitted) so factor that in.
Not all have the sliding rear parcel shelf or rotating front seats, I had to get all of them from a breakers (on ebay) and fit them myself.

I bought the lowest spec model because they have manual rear windows - easier to open/close at night when sleeping in it.

Regarding the plywood boxes, I used 12mm birch ply which is a much better quality ply, stronger, screws better (no voids), doesn't really warp, and doesn't splinter. Any thicker than 12mm would be too heavy.
After I'd worked out the sizes I had all the pieces cut at a timber yard for greater accuracy/neatness than I could do with a circular saw. It would be well worth finding a place that can do this or find a joiner to do it? I then just had to glue and screw it together.
It cost me about £150 for the wood, cutting and hinges etc. so not much really.
One point to note is that the floor pan slopes down towards the front of the car so the sides of the boxes have to slope to make a level platform.

If you decide to get one and want to make the plywood boxes I can email you the plans with dimensions which I drew up which would make it rather easier, just email me through UKC.

Hope all that helps, good luck.

1poundSOCKS - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> massive increase in van related sex?

Lots of people enjoying the freedom a van gives you.
tallsteve - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:

Money Money Money is your issue.

I bought a low mileage LWB T5 for £14k which now has a kingsize bed (I'm 6'6") for me and the misses, and a kitchen and cupboards I built (+£1k for the bits, no pop up roof). We are "hardcore" and sleep winter and summer, normally in remote car parks and pull ins in Wales. The trick is to cook your tea in a fabulous spot then drive at around 11pm to the overnight - probably a secluded forestry track. That being said we have woken many times to views down isolated valleys totally alone ...
Here's my thoughts:
- Consider the cost. Fuel plus the extra to get a bigger vehicle plus conversion can be added together and makes quite a few years worth of bunk house and B&B fees.
- Despite being an LWB van its still feels small for two and we still have to manouver around eachother when getting ready for bed etc.
- B&Bs are cheaper in the winter when you want the comfort, so consider upgrading your wild camping kit for the spring/summer/autumn months. e.g. an army folding bed and decent sleeping bag, double cooker, decent camping chair, double stove, and a tent you can sit up in on said chair with a glass in one hand and the rock guide in the other.
- Many of the sites we pull up in also have a suitable location nearby for a tent tucked away. Before buying the van we would often walk 200m from our parked car and pitch our tent by a burbling stream just out of view of the road - yes even in Scotland and midges be damned!
- The cost angle comes in spades for a fully converted van. To get one at a reasonable cost you're talking high miles and all the associated running issues. A low mileage converted van will cost over 30k. Divide that into its realistic life of say 20 years and you have £1500pa to spend on flights to the Alps and hut fees!

So I guess I'm saying that if fuel costs are an issue, and you're not a DIY geek forget about it. You'll be better looking at decent spring/summer camping kit and banking the extra cash. You can still stop in the remote locations at the foot of the crags. Extra camping comfort is way way way cheaper.

If you are still considering sleeping in an estate/small van then look at the Quecha base pod. A couple in France we met had put a sleeping platform and mattress with space under for luggage in the back of a small van. They used a pod as their cooking dining area. A table, two chairs and camp kitchen filled it, and the inbuilt fly screens will keep the midges out. Its pop up too and quickly and easily dismantled for the night. Just slide it and the table and chairs under the car. The whole kit could be yours for circa £250 and last decades.
Cowflinger - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to gavmac:
Picked up a Peugeot partner for my daughter for £800 and as a GB canoe slalom athlete she is sponsored by Amdro so has use of one of their conversions. However if she bought the Amdro camper conversion which two people can lift into the boot and fold out (so no DIY skills needed ) it would have cost her £1800. So £2600 for a camper which she has already used most weekends through this winter in comfort. The diesel partner seems to be reliable and runs well. http://www.amdro.co.uk/products/boot-jump-camper-car-c-10_15.html
TradGSmith - on 17 Jan 2017
In reply to Simonfarfaraway:

What is the BG van like, I'm thinking of getting one myself. Are they sound mechanically?


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