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Having owned a few kombi's/campers, T3 fastbacks and Karman Ghia's I know only too well that its FAR more expensive to buy a shell and restore then fit it than it is to pay for one thats had all the hard work done by someone else.......

Yet here I am thinking of doing the same again! Ok, so I'm not looking at getting something that needs the bottom 10" of body panels completely replacing before I start the interior, I'm looking at a T5 from 2008 onwards BUT, I know NOTHING about T5's.

Except that i'd like a 2011 onwards due to engine upgrade and greater power/fuel economy. Is it worth paying the extra £'s (of which it seems lots) for one of the more recent models for what i'll save in fuel doing only 20k a year?

But the biggest questions are:

1) Do I buy a van good for conversion, and shell out for roof, full width R&R bed, insulation, camping pod, swivel seats, storage and all the rest (already thinking NO as it sounds so expensive) or do I look for one as close to what I want as possible and work on it, and where do I start looking?!

2) Why are vans with wheel chair access/ramps advertised as 'ideal for conversion'?

3) Am I likely to find a van with the pop top roof done, rails in the floor, full width R&R bed, two swivel front seats, a removable camping pod and an extra removable 2 seats for normal weekly use?!?! heh heh, that would be nice.

4) What model/variant/floor type, rail type etc do I need for the van described above?

5) Has anyone else done or had thoughts on a 7 seater van for weekly use (kids etc) with bed that slides forward making loads of cargo space (for work/tools etc) then the two middle seats coming out to put a camping pod in for the many weekends away I plan with the kiddies? OR AM I ASKING TOO MUCH OUT OF ONE VAN?!!!

Come on you T5 geeks/techies, I need your brains on this!

Cheers :eek:) Jim
 

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Hi jim,
By the sounds of your requirements as itemised in questions 3 & 5 you will need to go down the buy a van and do/get the conversion done yourself.
Everything you list is eminently doable but you will not find it already done in a regular conversion.
One of the advantages to buying a project/blank canvas van for conversion is that you can build it just the way you want it. I think building a camper is a different prospect to rebuilding a car.
If you go for the very bespoke option you stand a lesser chance of getting your money back when you come to sell but at least you have had the use of it as you intended.

Reimo make everything you list and are very high quality. You can buy all the components to build it yourself from them, take a look at the reimo.com website

Hopefully others will be able to offer some alternative suppliers
 

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Having done it all from scratch in newish panel van I've come to the conclusion that buying a California beach would be same/less money for less hassle and better finish.
 

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This would depend on how much you can do yourself DIY

If you pay for the complete conversion it's going to cost a lot more than you spend on the van, but if you can do yourself, a lot of money can be saved on labour costs!
 

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Having bought a base T5.1 and had a professional conversion I think we have had great value for money. I don't think we could have bought the same for less. :ILU:

We haven't saved anything but we haven't paid over the odds either! A:

We have full camper conversion, with 3/4 bed sink/hob etc.. We also have a brand new Eber fitted with a 3 year warranty. (No poptop)

We haven't got it blinged up like some, ours is a practical camper for using every weekend and for longer holidays as possible, camping walking, beaches etc.

Our work was completed by T4life and we were fully involved in all the decsions made. We viewed more than a few already converted vans and found fault from minor to major with every single one. LOL:
 

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I look at life in terms of time not money.

I bought a van ready converted so I could start using it for what i wanted it for instead of wasting 6 months messing about with it.
But I can sort of see why people want to do it themselves. But spending all week at work making stuff its then last thing i want to do at a weekend.
 

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Agree with what Steevo says.

I was looking for a wider than average bed, pop top, air con, lwb etc. I knew it would be hard to find especially with a 2.5d engine.

I thought about going for a 1.9, maybe even a swb. But we are both tall and we wouldn't have enjoyed it so much (I had a swb without a pop top 2 years ago when single and although great, was restricting - for me).

Spent a couple of weeks looking and found mine within 30 miles of home too! I paid slightly over the odds but it has everything already on board - I was really lucky.

The body needs a little paint - dents on tailgate from a bike rack and some high security cash van deadlocks(!) which need removing and it doesn't currently have alloys, which I want but otherwise I can't argue as it has:
2.5tdi t32 130 lwb, pop top, air con, fridge, wider (130cm) bed with headrests with thinner units, underfloor heating, webasto heating, 2 swivel chairs, came with a Kyham tent and has a solar panel in the roof!

To build this I reckon wouldve easily been 6 months out of this year!
 

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Think there are maybe four options:

1. Buy yourself, convert yourself: I planned to do this but my wife intervened, quite rightly, saying she'd like to use it not watch it crawling to completion. Still have the itch to do one though...

2. Buy one someone else has DIYed: may be a route to a bespoke, v cool and value for money camper. Could also be a bag of trouble if the original converter stuck the units in with sellotape and re-used some old lampshade wiring. And its styling / layout may not suit, ending up with you re-doing it.

3. Buy one, get a professional converter (or buy one already done): good option for custom spec like you've mentioned, it'll get done this century, it may have a warranty of sorts

4. Buy a manufacturer's camper: ie a california or california beach. I went down this route and love the westie fittings on mine - I couldn't have laid it out better. You also get far better residual value when you sell it. However, you stump up loads from the start.

Hmm. That's not really an answer.

But, I think I can answer Jim's original question No. 2: Why are vans with wheel chair access/ramps advertised as 'ideal for conversion'? I used to look after a fleet of them. It's because they are generally caravelle's or windowed vans, so no need to add windows. They also tend to be lower mileage. Downside can be auto boxes, cut away rear floors if they're rear entry and general bashes and bangs from a life where the attention is on the disabled person being transported or driving, and less on the van.
 
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