• This topic has 81 replies, 40 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by 5lab.
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  • Best Van for conversion to a camper
  • Premier Icon jonundercover
    Full Member

    Hi,

    I’m looking to buy a used van(not VW) to convert into a full camper with pop up roof. Any advice would be appreciated. The Transit and Peugeot Traveller look like they could be a good option.

    Cheers

    Premier Icon alexpalacefan
    Free Member

    Short arse?

    Is so you can sleep cross-ways in a Ducato et c.

    APF

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    My lad just bought a 2013 Renault Trafic L2 H1 and it looks a pretty good van for conversion.
    It’ll be getting fitted out before summer so was bought with a camper in mind.

    I have a Transit custom which is an awesome van, far far better than the VW in the cab area etc and I’ve seen a few converted and they were smart as cats.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Is so you can sleep cross-ways in a Ducato et c.

    Does anyone make ‘pop out foot space’ for such vans? It seems a solution to length of bed across the van.

    Premier Icon peekay
    Full Member

    Does anyone make ‘pop out foot space’ for such vans? It seems a solution to length of bed across the van.

    What a bloody good idea. Surprised I’ve never seen that before.

    Premier Icon grahamt1980
    Full Member

    Are you going to want to re register it as a camper?
    If so, I’m not sure that poptops count anymore, I think they changed the rules to require them to be high tops

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Surely someone could make a plastic pop out panel, hinged at the top and moulded & insulated to just add 10-20cm of foot space?…hmmmm

    Sorted.

    https://www.flarespace.com
    https://functional-design.de/longsleeper.html
    https://camperpunt.nl/bedverlenger-buscamper/#jp-carousel-287




    Premier Icon madhouse
    Full Member

    If you want to change the body type to a camper and not be subject to van restrictions then you have to satisfy the DVLA:

    – 2 or more windows on at least one side of the main body (this does not include windows on the driver or passenger doors) to provide a reasonable amount of daylight into the living accommodation
    – a separate door which provides access to the living accommodation of the vehicle (this excludes the driver and passenger doors); a window on this door counts as a separate window on the main body
    – motor caravan-style graphics on both sides of the vehicle
    – an awning bar attached to either side of the vehicle
    – a high-top roof (this does not include a pop-top elevating roof)

    You also need the following internals too:

    – seats and a table
    – sleeping accommodation which may be converted from the seats
    – cooking facilities
    – storage facilities

    Love the idea of pop-out foot space to put the bed across the van, surely someone’s had a go at a DIY one?

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Full Member

    One of the German conversion companies does a pop out bed extension on one of their conversions. Looks like a window when closed but slides out. Maybe Dethleffs or someone like that? Remember seeing it in a magazine.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    “Best” for what? More room, more economical, more power, cheaper to buy?

    The T5/T6 are most popular and so have by far the most conversion kit available – even for something like a pop roof there’s dozens of options. Going outside that is fine particularly if you’re happy to DIY/fabricate stuff as you go but what are you trying to do better?

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    Westfalia, HymerCar plus others are doing it now

    Mostly for Sprinter, Crafter and MAN TGE Vans

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    I did a renault trafic in 2016 and to be fair it’s been amazing. However if I did it again I’d do a ducato/relay/boxer (they’re all the same van) as it’s the standard van for professional conversions (so lots of bits and pieces can be bought for them that fit custom – e.g. underslung water tanks), they’re galvanised (like the trafic but unlike a transit or sprinter), and you can sleep sideways which is a huge boon.

    Premier Icon b33k34
    Full Member

    – motor caravan-style graphics on both sides of the vehicle

    I’d always wondered why so many people stuck shitty decals on their campers. had no idea it was a requirement!

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    Those DVLA rules are bullshit. Demanding a Hi-top is stupid, as is demanding graphics. At least the graphics can be binned straight after.

    Stupid.

    Premier Icon Blazin-saddles
    Free Member

    Short arse?

    Is so you can sleep cross-ways in a Ducato et c.

    Don’t need to be a short arse. I’m 6’2 and sleep across mine easily at 1m from the floor.

    Premier Icon tillydog
    Full Member

    If you want to change the body type to a camper […] then you have to satisfy the DVLA:

    Correct.

    and not be subject to van restrictions

    Incorrect.

    In order not to be subject to van restrictions, it has to meet the legal definition of a “motor caravan” and be less than 3050kg unladen weight. DVLA body type is *not* relevant in laws about speed limits.

    Premier Icon phil5556
    Full Member

    Are you restricted for size? Height, length, width?

    I’ve had VW campers for years starting with a Type 2 Aircooled van and finishing with a T5.

    I’m now in the middle of converting a Citroen Relay, the amount of space is amazing compared to what I’ve had before.

    But it’s 6m long and 2.5m tall.

    You need to decide what your priorities are and what you are happy to compromise on.

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    Those DVLA rules are bullshit. Demanding a Hi-top is stupid,

    Not having a hitop is stupid.

    As for what makes the best camper it depends whether you are willing to put up with a tent on the side/roof or you want a self contained unit.

    Premier Icon jonundercover
    Full Member

    Thanks all for the replies and really useful info! I had no idea about the DVLA rules ! I’ll need to look into that.

    I have two kids so it needs to be good for 4 people to sleep in. I don’t want a huge van on my drive either as the will upset the neighbours.

    I was thinking of a SWB transit with a pop up roof so that the kids can sleep up there. A tent on top would work I suppose.

    My Garage mechanic told me to stay away from transporters as the engine will go at some point and when it does it’s expensive apparently! He said that he’s seen plenty of them in his garage.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Free Member

    How old are the kids? Unless they’re very wee or this is just a short term thing then SWB tranny is too small.

    <Details>
    We bought a LWB T5 at the same point we got kid 1 15 years ago. Kid 2 2 years younger.
    Was great until about 3 or 4 years ago where they just got too big and fighty to sleep in the roof together<\dets>

    Premier Icon db
    Full Member

    As said above vehicle body type does not dictate speed limit.

    The body type should only be used to help identify the vehicle by authorities.

    I would say transporter but you rule them out so I will say Renault Trafic.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    To try and summarise a chat I had with MC from this forum, who is a fleet mechanic by profession and so works on a lot of vans… Any mistakes will be mine, I was looking at mwb or lwb hightops with a £5000-£6000 ish budget. Rust- modern big french and italian vans are galvanised, sprinters rust but don’t fall apart like transits, Transits everything rusts (in my price range, basically every transit has the word “welding” in the sales ad, it’s like buying a classic car). Transits and Sprinters nicer to drive. Vans that don’t have a RWD version tend to have lower floors, especially Fiat.

    Lots of badge engineering- Boxer/Relay/Ducato all related, Renault Vauxhall and Nissan pretty much the same van. French and Italian worse for parts availability, Ford VW and Merc not a problem, Vauxhall in the middle.

    Probably worth adding the words “race van” to your searches if you’re wanting to use it for biking. They’re usually built for gokarts or motorbikes but that gives you a big garage for mountain bikes that’ll also allow for other storage, usually with the bed over the garage. (interior bike storage puts a lot more pressure on space, rear garage with a bed over it seems best for bikes anyway)

    The DVLA rules are hilariously bad, though, I understand it’s not designed to be prescriptive- ie if it’s blatantly a campervan but doesn’t have an awning or awning bar then it can still qualify. But the poptop thing is just madness

    Premier Icon Tom-B
    Free Member

    Wait….having a large van on the drive will upset the neighbours?! Unless its blocking their access then surely it fall into the ‘tough shit’ category?!

    Nicest ‘large’ van I’ve ever driven is a Renault Master. Better than a Sprinter imo. My moho is on a Ducato and is brand new…..if you like feeling like you’re driving a car from 2002 then get a Ducato…..cruise control is bad to the point that it’s easier to just use the pedals too! Still bloody love our motorhome though….which is good as we’ve moved into it full time!

    Premier Icon steveh
    Full Member

    Yes they do make pop out foot space (and head space) in the form of pods that go on similar to a window for various vans.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Crafter.

    **** the neighbours.

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    Not having a hitop is stupid.

    Sorry, I’m going to have to call you out on that one cause it’s bullshit. Why would you think that ?
    Is it because you’ve never had a camper ? Not every on needs a Hi top fitted and for good reasons.

    Stupid.

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    He’s got a big red campervan …..and some very strong opinions which are basically why don’t other people want the same campervan that works well for him?

    Classic STW. I’m right ‘cos it’s what I want/have/need. We’re all guilty of it at times

    It’ll be interesting to watch this thread given your  reactions to threads in the last few days😜

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Classic STW. I’m right ‘cos it’s what I want/have/need. We’re all guilty of it at times

    Never a truer word said, especially the last part. 🙋

    Premier Icon falkirk-mark
    Full Member

    If you want it to be classed as a camper it needs to be a hi top

    a high-top roof (this does not include a pop-top elevating roof)

    From here

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/converting-a-vehicle-into-a-motor-caravan/converting-a-vehicle-into-a-motor-caravan

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    We got that already, we’re deciding if it’s stupid lol.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
    Full Member

    Just in the process of getting costs to convert a L3h3 Boxer. Aiming for a pop up roof and transverse bunks at the back. Move the twin seats to the back and add two swivels. I want to be able to stop and not have to make beds every night. Having a caravan has taught us that for us it just a ball ache every night and morning getting it all out and away again. Going for a induction job and no gas. Not planning to be off grid too much and can cook outside on a cadac if we want to. Diesel heater and a good battery setup should see us ok. Going to also get booking a few sites for summer, it could be busy!

    Premier Icon breninbeener
    Free Member

    Grumpy edit

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    convert a L3h3 Boxer. Aiming for a pop up roof

    You putting in an upstairs room ? A pop top on an H3 van ? Should be awesomely high inside.

    Would be great to see but I have never seen an H3 with elevating roof.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
    Full Member

    Correction it’s an h2. You are correct that would be a bit top heavy!

    Premier Icon brads
    Full Member

    But awesome all the same Haha. You could have a viewing gallery !!

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    Ducato style Vans with pop-tops have been around for a few years now. Hymer were the first ones I saw but even UK brands are doing them. It’s the trend in 2021 looky here

    https://www.auto-trail.co.uk/adventure

    Premier Icon alpin
    Full Member

    It seems an ugly solution to length of bed across the van.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
    Free Member

    As @elshal has posted, Hymer have been doing Ducato and Sprinter based stuff with a pop top for a few years. Loads of manufacturer are now offering it.

    The Hymer 4wd Sprinter Concept thing really does look awesome!

    Premier Icon kenneththecurtain
    Free Member

    On the ‘size’ issue, it really does depend on how you view your camper. Is it a van you can sleep in, or a home you can drive around in?

    I’ve done both. The ‘van you can sleep in’ is rubbish when you have to spend any lengthy period of time in it (like, when it’s raining or when the midgies are out). The ‘home you can drive around in’ is amazing, apart from when you have to put fuel in it or you want to get anywhere quickly.

    It’s a compromise.

    Edit: and neither of mine are registered as motorhomes. Doesn’t make any difference to anything as far as I can tell.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    Would be great to see but I have never seen an H3 with elevating roof.

    Somewhere I have a picture of a sprinter with what looks like the roof of a T4 westfalia grafted on the top.

    If it’s over the bed it’s probably quite nice although Height barriers must have been a real issue!

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