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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have come to accept that my trusty BMW 1 Series is no longer fit for family life - I have 2 boys (aged 11 months and 3.5 years) and they require a lot of stuff. And that is before my bikes get taken into consideration. So we need something bigger - and I keep coming back to T5s, as my requirements are that it needs to be able to fit 2 adults in the front, the two boys in the middle and ideally all of our bikes at the back, whilst still being pretty "car like" to drive! It will be my main car, although my wife also has a little city car, it will be used for mountain bike trips most weekends, with the occasional longer trip, including into Europe. I am open to other suggestions of vehicles that will meet those requirements, but guessing there won't be many from here...

I think a SWB Kombi would be ideal for us, but not sure what would be the positives/negatives of getting a Shuttle instead and removing the seats? (E.g. are they nicer inside? Or more likely to have sliding doors on both side? Or are they more expensive etc? Extra seats difficult to remove?).

Are there any particular models/specs to go for/avoid? A/C is a must have and I would like a heated front windscreen, but happy to let that slide. Is there much difference between 2 and 3 seats at the front, either in terms of price/availability or comfort for long journeys?

Where is the best place to look for T5s for sale (I am Midlands based if that makes any difference)? Is it worth going to a specialist? Or just the usual Autotrader etc?
 

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Welcome aboard (y)
Certainly worth looking on trader to get an idea of prices, specs and models that are available. Where abouts in the midlands are you? There's a company called Venture that are on the A5 between Daventry and Barby, they have a range of campers (I'm there quite often having a nosey about). Also there's a company called Rising Sun Campers in Ansty, worth a look.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm in Coventry, so not far from Rising Sun Campers - I've noticed a few vans with their stickers on locally, so will pay them a visit.

I've found a nice looking T5.1 SWB Kombi Highline that I like the look of, it is a factory Kombi, rather than a conversion, does that make a difference for insurance etc? Also it is only the 102ps 5 speed - would that still keep up with traffic on the motorway etc?
 

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Hi and welcome.
A t5 is a good all rounder imho .
Big enough to carry all that you need yet small enough to fit in a parking space or mcd's drive thru.
For us 2 single seats are way more practical and comfortable....the double seat is more like a 1.5 in reality.
Venture has a fair range to look around if just to get ideas of what works for you .
A/C was a must for us but limited our choice somewhat as for heated windscreen i didnt even know it was an option.
 

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Might be worth having a poke around Listers too to see if theyve got anything, bought ours from the dealers in Daventry and by the time you haggle the price down the warranty made it worth while over some of the overpriced junk we saw privately.
Kombi highline sounds just the job although if i had the choice a 140 rather than a 102 would be my preference.
The 102 is fine and can be mapped to get more midrange grunt if needed .
The 5 speed gearbox is your weak link if you're wanting big power.
The 140 comes with a stronger 6 speed box.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Cool. 140 would be ideal, but I expect there is always something that will have to budge as although I’m sure the perfect spec van does exist it may not necessarily be on sale while I’m looking and even less likely to be in budget!

I’m not looking for mega power, I just need to be able to cruise comfortably on the motorway.
 

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I'm in Coventry, so not far from Rising Sun Campers - I've noticed a few vans with their stickers on locally, so will pay them a visit.

I've found a nice looking T5.1 SWB Kombi Highline that I like the look of, it is a factory Kombi, rather than a conversion, does that make a difference for insurance etc? Also it is only the 102ps 5 speed - would that still keep up with traffic on the motorway etc?
Just up the road from me then, I'm in Rugby.
My van was the insanely powerful 84bhp (that's not a typo) with a 5 speed box, my first visit to Wales showed how underpowered the van was as I struggled on some hills. Went to Transporter HQ (not far from Hinckley) and got a Revo remap, she's sat at around 170bhp now which is easily one of the best mods I've done! They limit the torque so it won't put extra strain on the gearabox. (y)
 

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Might be worth having a poke around Listers too to see if theyve got anything, bought ours from the dealers in Daventry and by the time you haggle the price down the warranty made it worth while over some of the overpriced junk we saw privately.
Kombi highline sounds just the job although if i had the choice a 140 rather than a 102 would be my preference.
The 102 is fine and can be mapped to get more midrange grunt if needed .
The 5 speed gearbox is your weak link if you're wanting big power.
The 140 comes with a stronger 6 speed box.
I do sometimes wish I'd shopped around a little more, but my van came along for a great price and like being a kid in a candy store I went on an impulse buy. Only things I'm really missing is ac and a 6th gear, bar that, I knew and was prepared to modify / upgrade pretty much every other aspect 😁
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I used to live in Rugby too.

I wasn’t expecting to find anything in budget through VW’s dealer network but seen one that could be an option (140, but with no glass on back doors, which isn’t ideal).
 

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Only looking at circa £300 to get windows fitted. Just bear in mind, you can take a basic panel van and create a full camper, absolutely everything and anything is possible (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Only looking at circa £300 to get windows fitted. Just bear in mind, you can take a basic panel van and create a full camper, absolutely everything and anything is possible (y)
Good to know it isn’t a deal breaker!

I had a good poke around their instagram when I was initially researching Transporters they definitely do cool stuff. Are they also the place to go for more routine work?
 

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I was adamant that I wanted rear windows when I was looking, but found a converted panelvan with solid rear doors.
I actually now prefer it as it's often used to transport my bikes so provides a greater level of security. I have a reversing camera fitted and parking sensors to avoid any bumps - once you get used to using your side mirrors instead of your rear view whilst driving it's no biggy!
As for van specs - the Caravelle is pretty much top of the list and you'll pay a premium for the extras (carpets / front & rear a/c), sliding seat rails, swivel seats etc., however they're much more car-like interior wise, with plastic side trim panels etc. so perhaps not as suitable for carrying bikes inside.
You might want to look at a rear-mounted bike rack if you're not fussed about the bikes being on show & outside.
Otherwise the Shuttle and Sportline / Highlines are generally the better spec'd vehicles and are cheaper than the 'velles.

As Pduk says though, anything can be modified to fit your criteria, whether it's full-blown camper with pop-top, beds & kitchen to versatile day-van/weekenders.
I fitted Caravelle seat rails to mine, along with the Caravelle full-width seat-bed so I can use it for both camping and hauling bikes inside.

Either way, prepare to have an empty wallet!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Getting the bikes inside is the main motivation for getting a van, an estate car/tow bar rack would be better day to day, but van beats it hands down for bikes!
 

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Good to know it isn’t a deal breaker!

I had a good poke around their instagram when I was initially researching Transporters they definitely do cool stuff. Are they also the place to go for more routine work?
I'll certainly be using them for future work, their own vehicles are a testament to their skills and workmanship (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I’ve been to see the guys at Rising Sun Campers this afternoon and had a look at a few vans, there wasn’t anything that met my requirements, but from chatting with them it seems like I am on the right track with a SWB T5.1 Kombi Highline, they are going to keep an eye out for me.
The vans seem huge in in person, especially from the driving seat - coming from small sporty cars it felt strange climbing up into a driving seat, rather than lowering myself down. However the interior space looks so practical, even bigger than I was expecting on a SWB, plenty of room for bikes/pushchairs etc.
I came away thinking that despite the size a Transporter would be perfect for all the family stuff, but maybe too big to be my daily driver and would I be in the wrong car 5 days of the week 48 weeks a year? Then I looked at the size compared to an Audi A4 estate, a SWB T5 is only 10cm longer (but A4 would need tow bar rack for bikes) and 8cm wider - not too significant!
 

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Vans are brilliant with young kids. Not sure you will get all 4 bikes in the rear with seats unless a LWB? We use a towbar bike rack for our 4 bikes. Been all over Europe in our T5 SWB camper doing wildlife trips and DH MTBing. Having the fridge is brilliant and a portable loo is a must have with little ones that usually need to go now, as in now. We spec'd a 140bhp T5.1 with 6 speed and air-con was a must, I wouldn't be without that especially on long journeys. We added a reverse camera which has come in very handy, but if your van has windows in the back they are pretty easy vehicles to park, drive etc.
 
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