Buying an older VW T25 or T4 with a professional conversion

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  • Buying an older VW T25 or T4 with a professional conversion
  • Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    a mate has a t25. he spends more time fixing it that driving it.

    looks nice though.

    Junkyard
    Member

    Never really understood the appeal of a VW. Expensive to buy and run and too small for practical camping when you get there

    That said if its just to try is it not better to get a self conversion as the outlay is smaller and the risks reduced?

    yunki
    Member

    T25 is a great little camper.
    Ours has a Leisuredrive conversion which is an all singing all dancing top quality 4 berth high top. These hard high tops aren’t quite as fashionable as the pop tops so seem to be available a little cheaper.
    It’s a good size for 2 people, much roomier than the older types, and after a week in Wales touring about, we decided that we could comfortably live in it full time (if we had simpler lives). Junkyard is obviously used to a more luxurious lifestyle in palatial surroundings 😉
    Obvious things to look out for are rust along the bottoms and seams of the bodywork and around the sills and jacking points. And around the suspension, swing arms and outriggers, in the footwells, around the filler cap, along the bottom of the windscreen…. err, everywhere really.
    If you decide you like your van, learn to weld!
    The sliding door assembly is another rust prone spot, as are the windows and areas around the roof especially if the van started life as a panel van rather than a caravelle.
    Ours has the later wasserboxer engine which is more reliable than the air-cooled but prone to rotting from the inside if the wrong coolant has been used.
    There are a gazillion YouTube videos on t25 (vanagon in the US).. JustKampers.com has useful buying guides and club80-90.co.uk is a mine of useful info and helpful people.

    They’re starting to increase in value. So be quick and if you don’t get on with it you could potentially make all your money back if you come to sell it on.

    There’s always a few little jobs that need doing to keep them on the road and up to scratch but the same could be said of any vehicle 30+ years old.
    Parts not that cheap so some mechanical know how would be a bonus

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    I’m thinking of this as an option for next year (i.e. need to save up!) as a way to test the water of having a camper. I’m thinking an older VW T25 or T4, that has been professionally converted (e.g. by AutoSleeper, Westfaila or some other well known brand) might be a good way to do this.

    It seems a van like this would hold its value much better than self converted VW T4/T5 or Renault Trafic (i.e. if I bought a van converted by someone). If it does run into mechanical or bodywork issues, these would be worth fixing due to it being a “branded” conversion.

    I’m not against self conversion in any way and fancy doing it, but that is much more of an investment of money and time. I see this as a way to get a fully functional camper and try it for a year or two.

    Any major reasons I should avoid this, or is it worth looking into?

    namastebuzz
    Member

    I’ll secomd what yunki said.

    We’ve got a T25 Westfalia hightop that we bought 10 yrs ago. It’s now worth at least twice what we paid for it. I did buy it off ebay.de and drive it back so got it pretty cheap.

    It’s got gas heating as well as the full fridge/cooker/sink so it’s useable all year round. The hightop is not as pretty as the poptop but far more convenient and warmer.

    Just having a 1.9TD AAZ conversion at the moment as the original 1.6TD was knackered.

    With a big awning you can camp in it for a week no problem. They’re also way better to drive than the T2.

    You’ll get one cheaper than a T2 and it WILL go up in value.

    Marin
    Member

    Got T4 and very happy with it. As an investment no. They’re old and getting older and who knows what legislation will come in against older diesel vehicles. Buy one because you like them.

    spectabilis
    Member

    Absolutely love our T25/T3 . Its an ’85 Autohomes conversion again with rigid pop top (not high top) which although may look sort of dorky and takes longer to set than a canvas pop top it’s bigger, insulated and so much warmer and much nicer to be in in high winds.

    The T25 is a bigger van inside than a T5/6 due to the forward control/rear engine layout.

    Ours is 1.9DG which is a perculiar engine , basically similar to the flat four aircooled unit but watercooled by means of a water jacket which means a shit load of coolant hoses which you’d do well to replace as we did after one burst. sort of has two head gaskets one traditional the other for the water jacket) and the water jacket gasket is notorious for failing should the incorrect coolant be used.
    No where near as quick as a T5 etc but they are a tough old beast as long as maintained.

    It’s a walkthrough, seats six with buddy seat, belts all round. 3way fridge, grill, hob, sink, hookup.

    Space wise we do fine me,the missus, daughter and the dog, comfortable.

    Junkyard
    Member

    Junkyard is obviously used to a more luxurious lifestyle in palatial surroundings

    When i lived in my van it did have a toilet an shower which may catch on in Devon soon 😉
    To me its just too small to be useful. yes you can cram 4 people in one but you really are crammed even when the other two are kids.

    I may be coloured as my annual interaction is to fix my mates for his MOT.

    FWIW having owned three different vans [ the smallest would have parked inside the largest] the real problem is the van you want to drive daily is not the van you want to camp in so it was always a compromise.

    If i had to compromise i would, may the lords forgive me, get a car and a caravan.

    Premier Icon Atomizer
    Subscriber

    I’ve also got an Autohomes Kamper with the rigid pop top lie Spectabilis. ’83 watercooled petrol. The roof is an awkward design but gives so much room.
    It’s plenty big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids, but an awning or awning tent helps.
    They’re not an investment and you have to accept that there are more than usual running costs but they’re good fun, and there’s a definite camaraderie with other owners.
    We take ours away at weekends and on our main summer holiday every year.
    Second Club80-90 for good solid advice.

    ianfitz
    Member

    We have simple self built T4 conversation. Pop top, full width bed/seat in the back, two single front seats, passenger spins, drivers fixed with a compact kitchen behind it. Sink, two burner hob with water and waste underneath plus battery and gas with space for other bits in there.

    Fits two adults and two kids in for most of our holidays. Need to be organised but more than enough space really.

    In terms of holding value, looking at classified ads I’d say it has increased in value while we have owned it, future classic init!

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    It’s a T3. 👿

    spectabilis
    Member

    pictonroad – Member

    It’s a T3.

    😀 don’t start.

    pk13
    Member

    A wedge you mean! t3 is a car . 😉 I’d go for a westy if you can they drive well if a little under powered by today’s standards. People think my t2 westy is always broke but it’s called serviceing. They are nice to drive and camp in and you won’t lose any cash on one unless you get a pup do your research and if you get one with a Subaru engine in it will get great mpg

    dovebiker
    Member

    Bought a fully-restored 1974 T2 last year – took it for a service/MOT last week and the dealer reckons the UK market is dying fast – for most it’s a luxury purchase and economic uncertainty means people simply aren’t buying. Maybe it’s the top-end of the market only and the prices for T3s are still reasonably accessible? If you’re looking to re-sell, then having a professionally built vehicle will hold its value better than a converted van. Any vehicle that’s 25+ years is going to need some work – rust, fuel and electrics being obvious candidates.

    unfitgeezer
    Member

    Say no more…

    Economical 1.7 Ky engine, no rust, full reimo conversion inside, T4 – never !
    Mines left hand drive, I imported from Germany

    spectabilis
    Member

    pk13 – Member

    A wedge you mean! t3 is a car . I’d go for a westy if you can they drive well if a little under powered by today’s standards. People think my t2 westy is always broke but it’s called serviceing. They are nice to drive and camp in and you won’t lose any cash on one unless you get a pup do your research and if you get one with a Subaru engine in it will get great mpg

    The car is a Type 3 i have one of them also.
    Type 2 is Bus,Van etc
    the T3 is a Transporter – a Type 2 T3

    Type 2 T1 is the Splitty

    Type 2 T2 is the Bay window

    Premier Icon white101
    Subscriber

    We have a T25 Westfalia Joker pop top, its got the 1.6td engine with 206,000kms on the clock. I bought it 3 years ago on the 80-90 owners club website from a fairly local owner. Imported from Germany in 2010.
    Body work is still in very good condition for an 29 year old van, I reckon I will need to spend some cash next year as some bubbling is appearing on the seams.
    We have been in Europe twice in last 3 years with it, took it as far as Zurich one year. Just back from a week in the lakes, we get away 2 weekends a month.
    I’ve had to replace a starter motor and have had new brakes fitted, other than that it runs all day without much trouble at all.

    Not sure how much value it will gain but not in a hurry to part with it, reckon I would still get back what I paid.

    As mentioned above, it has plenty of space and storage, comfy captain seats mean I can sit on the motorway at 60mph no problem although 40 on the country lanes is much more fun. 5 speed box and power steering means its much easier to drive than a bay.

    pk13
    Member

    Let’s call it a vanagon like the yanks.

    pk13
    Member

    Joker is my favorite after a westy but if I could it would be a double cab syncro

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    A wedge you mean! t3 is a car

    Triggered.

    You mean a Type 3 don’t you? There’s no such thing as a Type/T25.

    I had 4 Westy T3, 3 pop top and a hightop. A good pop top late Westfalia T3 is a work of art. They really are brilliant vans. We happily lived in one for a week as a couple.

    Sold all of them for more than I paid. Buy well on body condition above EVERYTHING else and you shouldn’t lose.

    I have a rusty side panel hanging in my shed to warn potential buyers what can be hidden with filler. I knew what I was getting into but I’ve seen some horrific cases of people buying shiny vans made of filler for a lot of money.

    I’ve also had Westfalia T4 and a T4 westfalia Exclusive. Of all of them, the best was the T3 pop top.

    spectabilis
    Member

    Gotta love a Syncro.

    This popped up the other day. There is lots of want!

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    You’ve got time to sort that spelling before I choke…

    spectabilis
    Member

    pictonroad – Member

    You’ve got time to sort that spelling before I choke…

    😉

    unfitgeezer
    Member

    OP you know it makes sense !

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    Cor, Spectabilis, that’s quite the thing. 8)

    pk13
    Member

    Like button needed

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    Thanks all. Unfitgeezer, the pics aren’t showing up (a recent common theme with Photobucket it seems. Tells the user to go to here and enable 3rd party hosting)

    More pics would be good too 😀

    I think a hard top would be the way forward, as most trips are likely to be in Scotland…. but that doesn’t rule a pop-top out completely.

    The thing that worries me most is bodywork, I think the mechanicals are a lot more straight forward. Don’t think I’d go with a T2, it would be T25/T3 or newer

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    It’s been pointed out that if we got an older camper, liked it and kept it, would you be able to safely carry kids in it in the future? Can you securely fit a child seat? I suppose the seat would have to fit to the rock and roll bed. Then, what about when they’re out of child seats?

    Sleeping arrangements less of a concern. It would either be a cab bed or the bed the high top/pop top.

    Another option is a newer T5 Kombi which is semi-converted (electrics, heater, lighting, plus possibly stove, fridge and water tanks). Less camper but more practical when carrying more than 2 people.

    mattsccm
    Member

    Tell me more about Subaru engines. I am in the same market as the OP although edgeing T4. Economy is important.

    pk13
    Member

    http://forum.club8090.co.uk/
    Look on the modified engine section

    spooky_b329
    Member

    It seems a van like this would hold its value much better than self converted VW T4/T5 or Renault Trafic (i.e. if I bought a van converted by someone)

    On the other hand, you’re buying a camper that HAS held its value, versus buying something that has done the bulk of its depreciation in someone else’s hands! Similarly, bodywork worries. Something older and prone to rust/filler/bodging, or something newer/galvanised/not worth bodging.

    If you are a huge fan and want a VW, fair enough, but if you want to dip your toe and see if campervans are for you, I’d get something newer and then take the plunge into classic VWs at a later date if you decide its what you want.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    The chap who cuts my hair (what’s left of it) has one of the old air cooled campers and it seems to be a labour of love for him – always fixing it and playing with it, and I suspect alot of the older ones are like that. He loves it as it is his passion, but it wasn’t for me.

    I’m not sure a more modern camper with a professionally fitted conversion would hold its value any more than an amateur build. These things are so common (VW campers) that you can buy flat pack kits, so installation by an amateur is as easy as it can be with minimal if any ‘self build’ element to it. I’ve just bought a T5 with a newly converted interior from one of the big conversion companies and it is constructed in a flat pack fashion.

    Given the cost of a ready-converted van I initially was looking into doing a conversion myself, but worked out there is little difference in the final cost at the end of the day. it all depends on the quality of the base van, which is where the bulk of the cost goes, and since this is my daily drive I wanted a low mileage, high spec van, so by the time i’d bought a base van that satisfied that criteria, then the cost of the conversion, the final price was about the same as buying a ready converted one. So I went for the ready-converted option as the other benefit is that I wasn’t spending the next 6 months worth of weekends working on the van instead of using it. Converting it would have been fun 15 years ago before kids as a project, but these days you’ve got to be joking.

    I’ve had it since march and it’s been brilliant. I don’t regret it at all. I bought it on a 10 year HP deal which keeps my monthly payments easily affordable, along with a deposit I clawed together from the sale of my previous car and some measly savings. I intend to keep it 5 years (give or take) and have some fun in it while the kids are young enough, and since it’s is a VW, which do hold their value compared to other vans, then i’ll be able to sell it and clear the HP and might have a bit left over. But who know’s we may decide to keep it. I’d love to do a European touring holiday when the kids are older and no longer want to holiday with mum and dad.

    It’s a brilliant thing – it is small inside, though plenty roomy sleeping arrangements with the pop top, but its a camper van not a motor home, so we didn’t buy it to park it up somewhere and spend hours inside it. It is perfectly roomy enough for all 4 of us to lounge around inside reading or messing about on tablets/smartphones for a couple of hours before bed if it gets too cold to continue sitting outside. During the day we’re away from it doing stuff. So depends how you want to use it. If you want something to lounge around in as a family, then clearly you need a bigger van. We’ve got a big drive-away awning for additional space for longer stops – we used that for 2 weeks in France this year and it was fine.

    trail_rat
    Member

    more than an amateur build. These things are so common (VW campers) that you can buy flat pack kits, so installation by an amateur is as easy as it can be with minimal if any ‘self build’ element to it

    It’s a shame so many people think that and make a complete horses arse of the safety aspect. Equally many so called pros also don’t abide by any “standard” so even paying a fortune for it guarantees nothing – no enforced requirement to have them signed off.

    There are some good ones but given the choice is buy one from the likes of Danbury/westfalia or I’ll build from scratch my self. I was lucky in that I paid buttons for mine in the knowledge that the pro builder had **** up on alot of safety aspects and was able to repair to a safe standard to regulations- how ever it had been in use for 6 years prior in blissful ignorance….

    Another aspect is safety. Many campers and day vans do not crash well …… Some have been crash testing recently you’ll see footage on YouTube. Quite scary where even seemingly well secured things come forward quickly.

    Given how quick parents are to moan about needing a high n cap rating it’s amazing how many are happy to chuck their kids in the back of a van full of projectiles

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Plenty of people make a horses arse of assembling flat pack furniture. I guess i’m giving the OP the benefit of the doubt that if they were to go the DIY route then they would make a decent job of it. But my point bing that you are not saving a huge amount by DIY’ing it unless you want something out of the normal T5 camper configuration or you want to make a project of it for the sheer hell and fun of it or you want something bespoke.

    For your bog standard T5 camper conversion you’re looking at circa £10k if you drop your van off with a company that does it. I worked out that doing it myself to get a like for like conversion with all the electrics, leisure battery, insulation, sound deadening, pop top, flat pack kits etc. I’d be spending near as makes no difference £10k and then i’d have to actually install it all myself. And my van conversion comes with a 3 year warranty and with the van re-registeres as a motorhome and all the MOT/required checks. No brainer really.

    CountZero
    Member

    I’d love a T3 Syncro! Not interested in a motorhome type thingy, I’d just like a vehicle that could go pretty much anywhere, and be able to sleep in overnight or maybe for a weekend away without needing to take the tent.
    For longer periods then the tent would go up and I’d have the extra space to spread out in.
    Something a bit like this one:

    But not that colour!

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    I’m not sure a more modern camper with a professionally fitted conversion would hold its value any more than an amateur build.

    I’ve seen circa 20 year old T4s converted by Autosleeper advertised for £10k plus. The equivalent age home converted panel van would be worthless in comparison. This trend appears to continue for T5s and a branded conversion seems a better investment to me. I can see this gap being narrowed by decent kits becoming more prolific but I still think a brand like Autosleeper* or a VW California would hold its value better

    *not a fan of some Autosleeper conversions though

    trail_rat
    Member

    Yep branded* conversions will always hold value better than a company putting a generic flat pack in. Too many backyard cowboys doing it to sort wheat from the chaff.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    you want to make a project of it for the sheer hell and fun of it

    I’d love to, my wife not so much 🙂

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