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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I'm new so please go easy on me..... Essentially, I need a T5 camper to go mountain biking and skiing around Europe, I have read many many threads on this great site but need some specific advice to save me valuable 'conversion time'. Can anyone answer the following YES/NO questions to direct me to the ultimate camper at the most competitive price? :*

1. Buy a new California (45K)!!!! LOL:
2. Used California (38K)!!!!
3. Converted T5 (eBay or auotrader/classifieds)

4. Buy a used Panel, Kombi or Window T5 and pay for the conversion (best model based on price, availability and end product?)

Much to my fiance's annoyance I like option 4 the best - if you agree, who should I pay to do the conversion and should I buy the van at auction? Is it cheapest to buy a 1-2 year old panel van with say 35k on the clock and convert that?

Other questions I have relating to the conversion are as follows:

a. Would it be worth getting an LPG conversion? (lots of driving, diesel prices are high!)
b. Which model should I opt for (1.9 102bhp?, Short wheel base?) also do you know the TAX and INSURANCE implications
c. Do I need to get the expensive pop roof even if we will sleep on a rock and roll bed?
d. Is there a cheaper option to extend the roof to allow standing height - i.e. we don't need a roof bed? It needs to look cool!!!

Finally, to keep the other half happy, I need to ensure it's nice and warm inside, we have the option to store the bikes inside (if possible) and of course we need kitchen unit (fridge), lights, stereo system and anything else you can think of.

BUDGET = 20k max, As cheap as possible but looking for good solid quality - 08/09/10 plate van, low ish mileage, comfortable and modern yet fairly sophisticated looking (I would love to 'bling it up' but in order to get this I must 'tow the line' a bit ;)

Any help would be much appreciated, it's an absolute minefield and like us all I just want to feel like I am getting a good deal and not making any stupid errors - can't wait to get out there, I'm a surfer as well so if I can pull this off it could be my dream ticket to activity based weekends rather than shopping - please help....H:

Adz
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey, thanks - I will take a look. Any thoughts on my other Qs? I need to buy a T5 ASAP so that I can get the conversion process underway - don't quite know where to start:*
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok, thanks but again - do you have any advice on the other Qs i.e. The best T5 model to buy for a conversion etc etc
 

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If you don't need speed get a 1.9. = cheaper tax/insurance + better economy
SWB easier to park
You will get a newer panel van for the same money as an older window van/caravelle/shuttle
You don't need a pop top, its warmer without one as well
Take your van to separate specialists to get windows/interior/bed fitted but do as much as you can yourself
I did mine in a couple of months. Here's the link to my blog:

http://frescogreencampingmachine.blogspot.com/

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you Peter, that is a great help and was just the sort of advice I need. I am an Engineer in the RAF but I probably don't have the time to do too much myself, I can fix planes but wouldn't trust myself to start hacking up a nice T5!!!! Thanks again for your help
 

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Do they have the multivan beach model over there, its a subset of the california and much cheaper and the hard work of making a camper is already done, we have one in Australia and its excellent. They are called Kombi Beach over here.

Brian
 

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Yeah, like the sound of that, but you cant get the beach in the UK, so instead buy a kombi, fit a caravelle bed/seat in the back and put the pop top on. Then rig up a rack which could store the 2 bikes above you? Or leave the bikes downstairs on a Thule internal rack and climb into the roof to sleep? - but the roof beds are a bit firm??

I prefer the LWB van myself. I've got a 2.5 but its thirsty so the 1.9 will be better.
 

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Always buy the best you can afford. trendline are pretty speced up and much cheaper than a sportline. 102 bhp model is fine and remaps nicely to give great economy and torque.
We also do full conversions in kit form to suit your needs.
 

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If you are going to consider insurance costs then getting a 1.9 and remapping it will bring it up to similar/more than a 2.5 130bhp anyway, and the 130bhp 2.5 will hold it's value better whilst also having a 6-speed gearbox and gear driven cam (rather than belt driven so reduced running costs as no timing belt to regularly change). As for the 2.5 being thirsty, I put this down to how you drive it (having run both in the past).

Check out Individual Campers (http://www.individualcampers.com) they will build whatever you want and understand better the needs of a mountain biker/surfer/kiter - this being the main reason they are based on the N Devon coast!

I would think you would be looking for at a slightly older than 08/09/10 van with a 20k final build budget thou.

Good luck bud
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Bobley, Brian,

Thank you for your advice, I have been struggling because there are so many models out there - great for flexibility and availability/options but difficult to be sure that you are buying the best value Vs quality option. Your comments are a great help, cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Interesting note about insurance Motters and the 2.5 - I didn't consider that. You could be right about the budget, there in lies my dilemma, my Mrs is going to want something pretty new but I know better about the quality and longevity of VW engines. If I had money splashing around I would buy a new California so I am looking to kit the 'used' T5 out as nicely (new) as possible whilst not compromising on performance. I drive a 6 speed golf so the 2.5 may be a better option for me - have you ever considered an LPG conversion to save on fuel costs.

I'm happy to pay good money for a quality conversion but I want to source the van myself - having knocked loads of cash off main dealer price tags before I wouldn't consider buying a van and conversion from the same company who themselves buy from the main dealer - this surely is not the most cost effective way of doing it. Is it as simple as 1. Panel van, 1.9 from a BCA auction, pay a company to do a great interior (maybe source my own seats, similar to those in the Carvelle?), forget about the pop roof for now and put a bike rack on the back?...thoughts?

Thanks again for the help guys
 

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Hi we got our van from http://www.vwtransportersales.co.uk/ where thy have vans in stock and you can have a good look around. Then we had the van converted with http://www.vw-interiors.co.uk/ which is only about 2 miles from Salop vans. We just turned up with no appointment we had a good look around at the work they were doing, we liked what we saw and we booked the van in to have a Ribb bed and to have it all lined. But in the mean time we decided to have the full conversion done so over the the Xmas period they fitted us in and 3 wks later we picked up the finished converted van upA: We had the Ribb bed because there is more storage space at the back of the van for all your outdoor kit.
Happy hunting.
Cheers Tim.
 

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I went to BCA at Blackbushe for a couple of weeks and watched the prices. I would say you will see a lot of pretty low mileage vans there. I didn't have any worries about buying from there. The thing to do is go for particular Groups that are selling them. I can't remember the company names but they are the lease companies and on the auction lists you can see if the if the mileage is warranted etc etc. I have to confess I did the helpless female bit and a few of the dealers gave me some brilliant advice. one even offered to buy the van for me and save me the VAT somehow, but I declined his offer I:

The auction lists also state if the service history is present also. My OH is an engineer also (ex RAF too) and he was pretty specific that I buy a low mileage vehicle and get the conversion work done rather than a higher mileage vehicle with it all done. Logic being you can add to the low mileage vehicle as and when a) you have worked out what you really need and b) you have the funds - but you can't take the mileage off. Should you need to sell on that is an important factor.

I ended up purchasing a van on here that was partially converted and I am using it now and discovering what I really need and not what I thought I would need. But the low mileage was the deciding factor for me as hubs would have refused to help maintain it if I hadn't heeded his advice and purchased older, higher mileage for less money or fully kitted out already.

Van days at BCA Blackbushe is Thursday. I was there for around 4 hours the first time. Got there at 10.00 am and realised after a while that the main VW T5 group sale wasn't going through until 1.00 pm :bhd It is a good way of getting to know prices though.

Don't worry too much about the fact that it is as seen and no comebacks. You are buying a VW!!! Not biased at all :D

I would like to have a pop top put in as I often have two kids with me when I go away. I have kept the double seat at the front for this reason. My one regret is that I didn't get a van with a rear seat that could take passengers. The use for me, I suspect, will be much more as a day van with stopovers sometimes and I would love to be able to take extra people/kids to the beach. But that is something I can deal with at some point. My bed is full width and uber comfortable. I wanted a full width bed as my OH and I are not good at being squished up in a small bed (been married a long time!) and now we have the van I hope he will be joining us for a few trips. I have also found that me (only 5ft tall and my two girls (one slightly smaller and one slightly taller) can sleep across ways on the bed with ease as it is nearly 7ft long when out, so no urgent need for the pop top yet A:

I spent hours and hours browsing for information on here too. These guys are a mine of information. Look at JonCorry (I think that's his user name) van conversion thread done by AJC conversions. That will give you inspiration. I don't know what he paid for it and what he paid for the conversion but it looked really beautiful and he had it on sale for around the price you are looking at spending. I think it had higher mileage than you are hoping for so that might focus your mind on buying a van and converting yourself.

Have fun looking. If you don't find one this year soon I would say leave it until the Autumn and make it a winter project when the prices are a bit more stable. Price me? I paid £9,000 for a partially converted van with only 60k on the clock and full service history which I was very easily able to verify. It had had only two owners the first being VW themselves. Ironically it had started life here in Guildford but I purchased it from its second owner up near Chester. Ironic.

Hope this helps a bit.
 

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Hi we got our van from http://www.vwtransportersales.co.uk/ where thy have vans in stock and you can have a good look around. Then we had the van converted with http://www.vw-interiors.co.uk/ which is only about 2 miles from Salop vans. We just turned up with no appointment we had a good look around at the work they were doing, we liked what we saw and we booked the van in to have a Ribb bed and to have it all lined. But in the mean time we decided to have the full conversion done so over the the Xmas period they fitted us in and 3 wks later we picked up the finished converted van upA: We had the Ribb bed because there is more storage space at the back of the van for all your outdoor kit.
Happy hunting.
Cheers Tim.
Hi here's
a link to what our van looks like http://www.vwt4forum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=97342

Cheers Tim
 

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I haven't got that far with my conversion yet, but what i have learnt is that if i was in the market again, i would have probably have bought a caravelle.... I bought a 59plate lwb 130 panel van which is mint and am doing a full conversion on it, but when i started to look into windows for it you will pay over £1k for full windows with openers, then over £2k for a nice set of seats or RIB bed, whilst i think a caravelle comes with a full width folding seat in the back that turns into a bed.... it will also have all the linings that conceal the metal on the inside, it will have a nice floor in it, the adjustable seat rails, colour coded bumpers, alloys.... generally a lot of the things you will end up having to put into your panel van to get it half way to camper spec, so ask yourself is it worth spending more on the base van to start with then converting when you get a little more cash? even if you didn't want the seats you bought it with, you can sell them and get yourself a rib bed with the proceeds.

I love the 2.5 engine and 6 speed box, as for economy i regularly get over 35mpg with varied driving based on 10 gallons, which i think is fine. i prefer to spend more on fuel and have the power on tap then struggle to overtake things on single roads.

LWB is a must if you're going to put bikes inside, you'll need the extra space especially if your not having a roof bed.

hope that helps a bit...

Best of Luck! :D
 

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I think with your budget a plan could be to look at the conversion options first, price that up and see how much you have left for the van, at least then you'll know what you can afford, then spend some time at BCA. If you know what conversion you want you can always 'compromise' on some things. Sliding seat would be high on my agenda if I needed to sometimes carry bulky kit (California/Caravelle or some Reimo conversions come with the variotech), Poptop is good for headroom too, not just sleeping!

Good hunting!
 
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