• 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 trail_rat
    Free Member

    Bad gateway double post

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    All these sound good.

    Ok . Let’s rephrase that . Hitops are not stupid.

    Vans you can’t stand up in as camper vans are stupidMisrable

    Now to blow your mind….. If your spending any time not on a serviced campsite ….you’ll be needing/wanting a toilet/portadunny

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    Jon, don’t worry too much about the DVLA Motorcarvan requirements. They have clamped down and no panel van conversion is guaranteed to be reregistered (too many people trying it to get the non-commercial speed limits). You just need to ensure youn meet any definition your insurance provider provides.

    I’ve got a 6′ sideways bed into an Iveco Daily (fairly drastic use of the grinder required on the internal structure) and I know it can be done in the Ducato.

    However, that panel popout in the Sprinter is a nice idea and with some effort it could probably be made invisible when not sleeping by bonding the standard bonded glass to the popout and not the window frame.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
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    Once it’s over 1.9/2m I don’t suppose it’s any different.

    Premier Icon Sandwich
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    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?!

    Some of us like to be considerate community members. Why crap on your own back doorstep?

    Premier Icon TheDTs
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    Indeed, it’s nice to be nice😀

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    We converted our T6 to what we wanted and needed, not what the DVLA dictates. It works v well for us – we slept in it for 20 nights between lockdown 1 & 2 and we just accept we do 50 mph on most roads. Design what works for you.

    We actually binned off the pop top idea for various reasons of our own consideration and it works for us.

    Oh and get a portapotty regardless in COVID world as many places need you to be self contained.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Some of us like to be considerate community members. Why crap on your own back doorstep?

    It’s a van, not the £350m Brexit bus, go round most areas of housing in the UK and you’ll see loads of them parked in drives or kerbside.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    you’ll see loads of them parked in drives or kerbside.

    You’ll see a lot of dog mess too. That doesn’t mean its what people want or like. Our neighbour has a big van. It takes up two spaces on an already full road so he parks round the corner where there aren’t any houses.

    Premier Icon jonundercover
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    Wow, so much to consider , thanks for all the comments! To give a bit more info I intend to keep it on the drive most of the time and not use it as a daily run about or commute.
    We are a very outdoors family and like to drive to places on the weekend. It would be nice to have the option to stay overnight somewhere if we feel like it, basically giving us a bit more freedom and the fun factor too.

    My kids are 6 and 7. I love the big camper vans but I’d prefer something a bit smaller as most of our trips will be short. We do want to go abroad in it once a year though. Maybe eurocamp etc.

    cheers

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
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    Christ, it’s grim when someone goes straight to the dog shite argument! lol!

    Premier Icon a11y
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    Wow, so much to consider , thanks for all the comments! To give a bit more info I intend to keep it on the drive most of the time and not use it as a daily run about or commute.

    On the basis of you not driving it as a daily, I’d recommend ignoring the T5/Vivaro/Transit Custom sized vans and going bigger, especially with kids of that age. They’d quickly in a few years get fed up sharing a double bed in a pop-top, and generally a smallish van like that you’ll be tripping over each other when the weather’s rubbish.

    The real benefit of something T5/Vivaro/Transit Custom sized is they can be used as a daily without much compromise over a car, but bigger vans which make more usable campers are much more of a chore as a daily driver. Plus you can fit a proper toilet in a bigger van which makes or breaks off-grid use.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
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    The OP wasn’t on about parking it on the road though was he?! I really fail to see how having a van parked on your drive can be seen as being inconsiderate?! Any yeah, dogshit and all that…..

    Premier Icon nickjb
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    How you are going to store it is definitely something you need to consider though, especially if it is parked for most of the year. Great if you.have plenty of space.

    Premier Icon intheborders
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    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.

    Hire the size you think you want, then decide.

    IMO 4 folk in a SWB van on a wet day sounds miserable.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
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    Fair point, I appreciate I’m fairly lucky in that respect.

    Premier Icon brads
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    There are different needs for different folks here.

    I used a Hiace for 2 adults 2 grandkids and 3 dogs including 2 large lurchers. You just make it fun. It’s camping after all. (Thats why they are called camper vans, they aren’t motor caravans.)

    I used a Kyam awning and never had an issue with size. Oh and no toilet just a shovel.

    Next one will be a 7m Motorhome with en-suite for 2 adults. Different requirements.

    Premier Icon 5lab
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    I really fail to see how having a van parked on your drive can be seen as being inconsiderate?

    we aren’t allowed to keep commercial vehicles or motorhomes in our street (every house has a drive they park on, so its not a question of taking up space), I imagine as they are large, ugly things that don’t fit in with the surroundings.

    The last house I owned had plenty of converted panel vans parked along it, a lot of them with hippies living full time in them as it was the closest free parking to town (Brighton). I didn’t mind, but I can certainly see why others would.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
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    Indeed, I wouldn’t want my own on my drive let alone a blooming great van towering over us from next door. Also, bloody obvious when you are on holiday. We are lucky as I can park it at work.

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
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     I wouldn’t want my own on my drive let alone a blooming great van towering over us from next door

    Premier Icon Tom-B
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    Hahaha I take it that you don’t have many working class tradesman types near you then?! Seriously, it’s a van ffs…growing up we survived with my Dad’s Transit parked up outside just fine, as did the neighbours.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
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    Ha Ha, I have three vans and a pickup, I only bring home what is required. There are a few vans on the road but a camper is nearly always going to be on the drive. It’s use pattern is quite different to a daily van user. It is a preference, not something I would get worked up about..

    Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    T5/T6 – the amount of stuff to help you convert them both products and companies is massive. So much bigger than the markets for any other type of smallish van.

    Theres 4 of us (me, the wife, 11 year old and 8 year old) + dog and size has never been too much of a problem plus it’ll happily do Tesco/B&Q runs no problem. I was pretty much dailying mine before lockdown and parking it in my works car park, something I wouldn’t have been able to do with anything bigger as its the same length as a Passat etc.

    That said, I keep thinking about a Crafter/Sprinter/MAN…

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    T5/T6 – the amount of stuff to help you convert them both products and companies is massive. So much bigger than the markets for any other type of smallish van.

    This is very true. Converting a Trafic made me realise just how much difference in the size of marketplace there was.

    Theres 4 of us (me, the wife, 11 year old and 8 year old) + dog and size has never been too much of a problem

    Not so much. My LWB/Pop-top Trafic handles the two of us very well. The idea of getting a couple of kids in there too doesn’t appeal at all, especially once you factor wet clothing into it.

    Premier Icon brads
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    Some places have covenants or local bylaws forbidding commercial vehicle etc from parking in the street. Some might apply to motorhomes / boats etc as well.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    Some places have covenants or local bylaws forbidding commercial vehicle etc from parking in the street. Some might apply to motorhomes / boats etc as well.

    Yep – we have one of those. It also includes limits on the number of pets per household (one dog, two cats). I was a bit concerned about it before we moved in but it’s roundly ignored.

    Premier Icon TheDTs
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    You can have a pet Honey Badger then. Perfect.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
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    Every day is a school day! I’d heard of the caravan covenants on some new build estates that seem to be fairly well ignored! Never knew of a commercial vehicle one though?! What the hell does a tradesman with a van do then if he lives in the middle of one of these estates, park a mile away every night?!

    Apologies OP I appear to have derailed this somewhat.

    Premier Icon Olly
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    Recently sold my T5 cause it had 3 driving seats and we hare now 4.

    Bought a new shape 2014 Transit minibus to convert.
    Reducing down to 5 proper seats AND a double bed all at the same time. Big Day van rather than including a toilet and a kitchen.

    Chose it over anything else because its so nice to drive. Doesn’t really feel like a commercial vehicle like a crafter or sprinter., just an antisocially large and heavy car.
    rumours of there being quite a few “friday” vans, engines melting or cracking at 60k miles, but equally there are so many out there i think its luck of the draw, and i’ll cross that bridge when i come to it

    Premier Icon b33k34
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    What puzzles me about the DVLA requirements linked to is it says

    The body type does not affect the insurance category of the vehicle, or have any effect on speed limits or other legislative requirements. It is only used for establishing vehicle appearance and identification.

    and it’s not a requirement for insurance, nor for being OK to sleep in – so what is the point?

    Premier Icon Matt_SS_xc
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    The camping vs home on wheels is such a valid point.
    We have l2h2 ducato. Thats the mwb. For 2 years it was our only vehicle.
    In nornal times we will around 100 nights away.
    There are only 2 of us.
    It never feels like camping, lots of room, proper bed, move around heating etc…
    It fits in supermarket spaces and can turn around on small lanes etc…
    Very manoeuvrable.

    For us it’s the perfect size. I didn’t want a pop top as i want to be able to stand up all the time, pack more things and it would be cold in winter.

    A friend has a lwb sprinter and has to consider more carefully, sometimes, where to park, can i turn around etc…

    You could easily have 4 people in our size ducato, but then it is more like camping, not packing stuff, small space logistics etc…

    For me, a family =big van or proper motorhome.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    b33k34
    Full Member

    What puzzles me about the DVLA requirements linked to is it says

    The body type does not affect the insurance category of the vehicle, or have any effect on speed limits or other legislative requirements. It is only used for establishing vehicle appearance and identification.

    and it’s not a requirement for insurance, nor for being OK to sleep in – so what is the point?

    Again just repeating things I have read rather than experienced, but-

    Slightly easier and cheaper MOT in a lot of cases (Class VII van becomes a class IV motor caravan which also means more test stations can test it)
    Possibly cheaper insurance- certainly more options
    Easier to get contents insurance- van insurance is commercial-focused, not personal posessions focused.
    People say cheaper bridge and ferry tolls but I’m not sure that’s true- probably goes more off appearance than DVLA registration? Probably you can feel more confident in saying “camper” when you’ve got a bit of paper that says it is one)

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    Ferry fees are certainly an issue. I had to argue long and hard not to pay a commercial rate on the IoM ferry and even going across to/through the Western Isles there are significant differences in cost.

    Also, some campsites won’t allow “commercial vans” on site at all. Of course, you can always argue this when you turn up but if it’s registered as a campervan then that’s one less thing to worry about.

    Premier Icon alpin
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    I really fail to see how having a van parked on your drive or the road, you know the public highway, can be seen as being inconsiderate?!

    We’ve a self converted LWB T5 with a pop top, bed/sofa lengthways, fridge, underslung gas tank, heater, swivel captain chairs, kitchen at the rear so that you can cook inside or out.

    For what it is, it’s good. Week long trips are mostly fine. Anything longer and it’s a pain.

    Bikes on the outside exposed to the weather, road salt and on view. Not much space for wet or dirty clothes; . Pop top acts like a sail; you my want to try sleeping up there in high winds.

    VWs are overrated, imo.

    Need to sell it after I get the manifold fixed /replaced.

    Will replace with a super high, super long Ducato.

    The idea of having the bikes inside, a permanent bed, dedicated kitchen, seating and being able to stand without potentially hitting your head (which despite the pop top happens often) are all things I wish I had considered before buying and converting the van.
    Also being able to park up without everyone knowing you’re obviously camping is a plus. Don’t tend to use campsites and prefer to park up off the beaten track.

    Despite living in Germany I tend to sit on the autobahn at around 95kmh rather than 170kmh. What’s the rush? Besides, diesel isn’t free. Ducato sitting at 95kmh isn’t much thirstier than the T5 doing the same speed.

    Premier Icon chrismac
    Full Member

    I would suggest one of the ducato/ boxer/ Citroen vans. It’s the same van and as has been said if you less than 6 ft then you can sleep across it which frees up lots of space inside. They come in 4 lengths and 3 heights so You can then pick the length and height of the van that suits your needs

    Premier Icon DaveyBoyWonder
    Free Member

    The camping vs home on wheels is such a valid point.

    Is what I was about to say about many of these comments. For what we’ve put into our T5 we could have bought a LOADS bigger van and probably had change for a nice bike or two as well. But thats not what we wanted (shock horror!). When buying a bike do you just go for the biggest, mostest, gnarliest travel or buy something that suits you needs and what you want?

    Our T5 was and still is the perfect tool for us but as mentioned, I do find myself drawn to something bigger sometimes but for day to day use it simply wouldn’t work for us.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
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    @alpin have you added the bold bit to my sentence to make a point or something? 😳 what an incredibly odd thing to do!

    Premier Icon tillydog
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    Slightly easier and cheaper MOT in a lot of cases (Class VII van becomes a class IV motor caravan which also means more test stations can test it)
    Possibly cheaper insurance- certainly more options
    Easier to get contents insurance- van insurance is commercial-focused, not personal posessions focused.
    People say cheaper bridge and ferry tolls but I’m not sure that’s true- probably goes more off appearance than DVLA registration? Probably you can feel more confident in saying “camper” when you’ve got a bit of paper that says it is one)

    The MOT one doesn’t require the DVLA to have it as a camper (“Motor Caravan”) – vehicles are tested ‘as presented’ – if it looks like a camper to the MOT tester, that’s what it gets tested as.

    Insurers are now wise to the Machiavellian ways of the DVLA and it doesn’t seem to be an issue any more (they did used to like them being recorded as ‘Motorcaravans’ by the DVLA) – anecdotal stuff from another forum.

    Bridge tolls are interesting – I looked into the Dartford & Mersey Flow ones a while back. Both had different rates for Motor Caravans, and used DVLA data to decide what a vehicle was via ANPR. However, the underlying legislation defined what constituted a “Motorcaravan” and *wasn’t* dependent on DVLA body type or taxation class.

    E.g. the Dart charge definition comes from a schedule to The Road User Charging And Workplace Parking Levy (Classes Of Motor Vehicles) (England) Regulations 2001

    Motor caravan
    Class L(a)
    A motor vehicle which—

    (a)has at least four wheels;
    (b)has an unladen mass exceeding 400kg or an engine with a net power exceeding 15kw;
    (c)is used for the carriage of passengers; and
    (d)is constructed to include living accommodation containing at least the following equipment:
    (i)seats and a table;
    (ii)sleeping accommodation which may be converted from the seats;
    (iii)cooking facilities; and
    (iv)storage facilities,all of which equipment is rigidly fixed to the living compartment notwithstanding that the table may be designed to be easily removable.
    Class L(b)
    A motor vehicle as defined in Class L(a) which is drawing a trailer.

    so what is the point?

    Good question…!

    The point *should be* that vehicles that fit the legal definition of a Motor Caravan are recorded as such so that the law can be appropriately enforced, however the DVLA have seen fit to make up their own set of rules which benefits nobody.

    …And don’t think that by complying with their (arbitrary) requirements that they will reclassify. (You are still, however, legally obliged to inform them that you have converted a van, even if they don’t agree with it!)

    Just glad I got our van reclassified before the DVLA embarked on their latest round of madness.

    (Because:

    you can feel more confident in saying “camper” when you’ve got a bit of paper that says it is one

    🙂 )

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    I really fail to see how having a van parked on your drive can be seen as being inconsiderate

    I’ve of the reasons we live where we do, was because the drive extends down the side of the house, so the campervan wasn’t blocking ours or anyone elses view. After a week I went round to the neighbor to say hello. First comment from the lady of the house was to comment (in the politest way you can complain) that the van affected the light into a side window. It must be the top 18 inches of van that peeks above the 6ft fence and blocked the view of our roof! I offered to move the van a little further from the fence (for a few weeks) and thankfully never heard any more about it!

    However, I was quite surprised that I didn’t receive any comments or complaints from the other neighbours for the 4 weeks or so that I had my old campervan, my new unconverted van, and my works Luton van, all 3.5t, high tops, and 6 metres long, lined up down my drive 🙂

    Premier Icon alpin
    Full Member

    @alpin have you added the bold bit to my sentence to make a point or something? 😳 what an incredibly odd thing to do!

    @Tom-B

    I’m agreeing with you. Seriously… Screw those who get upset about any vehicle being legally parked, be that on your own driveway or on the road. Small mindedness and pathetic.

    Last year two of our neighbours had their vans egged over several weeks by someone who was upset that their vans ( big Ducato and old school (1980s). Don’t get it.

    And if I lived on an estate that didn’t allow vans…. well, I simply wouldn’t live there in the first place.

    At least vans, of any shape or form, are practical as opposed to your standard euro badge which seem to be nothing more than a fancy status symbol.

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