I really want a campervan....

(35 Posts)
Greydog Sat 13-Apr-13 14:50:01

but a smallish one, nothing too big, and have today seen an elderly (1987) VW it's a Transporter t25. I've only looked at it from across the road, but it's calling to me! Before I go and look properly, and am trapped, what do the experienced camper vanners think? Pros and cons? general thoughts?
thanks!

Chinwag Sat 13-Apr-13 14:52:54

Not exactly experienced, but would recommend you hire one first to see if it suits you.

Maat Sat 13-Apr-13 14:59:24

Hiring one first is a good suggestion Chinwag.

A guy at work had one - although it was much bigger than the one you mentioned.

He loved it but found it annoying that, if they wanted to stay somewhere for a few days, they had to keep packing everything away to travel around the area. Either that or take a spare car which kind of defeats the object a bit.

He went back to having a separate caravan.

Maat Sat 13-Apr-13 15:03:36

Actually, I think it was more of a motor home that he had so probably not very useful advice.

Ignore me blush

VivaLeBeaver Sat 13-Apr-13 15:04:15

I used to have a t25, fab for impromptu trips around the uk. Cost me a fortune in bodywork (it was good condition when I got it but they need lots of attention), expensive in fuel. I couldn't afford to keep it in the end. I do miss it but its nice not been skint all the time now.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 13-Apr-13 15:05:40

Oh yes, the packing away is a pita. I used to have a drive away awning for long weekends or weeks camping. We used to break down a bit, electrics would blow, etc. never anything badly wrong with it, just old parts.

Greydog Sat 13-Apr-13 15:05:45

I hadn't thought about the hiring - thanks! I do know of someone who decided they wanted a camper, bought it, drove it off the forecourt and hated it, so took it back next day! They hadn't even had it out for a test drive to see if they liked it before buying! An expensive mistake to make. I def. don't want a caravan tho'

Greydog Sat 13-Apr-13 15:06:58

Sorry, Beaver, cross posted!

sanityawol Sat 13-Apr-13 15:22:11

There are various vw forums which are really helpful and friendly in my experience. I have a T4 which which I've had some engine issues with due to the dishonest previous owner, but the vw t4 forum has been brilliant. Love my van to bits - it's my daily driver and i can't wait to be back in it rather than my slightly dull car.

Look at the buyers guides, and if anyone tells you a van has had a full restoration ask to see the photos - if it has been done properly they will have documented it as we did with our Splitty... Some of us vw owners are a bit sad...

ohforfoxsake Sat 13-Apr-13 15:27:00

They can be an absolute money pit, and a labour of love. But they are special. Find a good local mechanic (if you happen to be I the NW I can give you a couple of numbers). I have T2 and we love it.

Have a look at the VZI forum, lots of help on there - and advice.

A drive away awning is useful - or just a pop up tent will do the same job. There's a great VW community, and lots of events - might be worth having a look around one for vans for sale.

I got mine via EBay, it has a superviking roof and sleeps 6 comfortably. Hammocks don't make great beds IMHO so decide what type of conversion you want.

It's a great thing to have. grin

sanityawol Sat 13-Apr-13 15:35:01

I know the money pit only too well foxsake. They do get to you though.

If you go for it greydog and you're in Devon / Cornwall I can point you in the direction of good mechanics!

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Sat 13-Apr-13 16:17:50

We've a t4 too, its brilliant cant recommend it enough. We converted it ourself. Great for picnics & days out.
Hiring is a good idea if your unsure, but from that you won't be able to judge how much you truly will use it. E.g if you have busy weekends you won't get to use it much.
There's loads of specialists and help out there, also lots of events.

hz Sat 13-Apr-13 16:36:22

Ever thought about a Bongo instead? We have a Bongo and use it a lot. We love the fact you can keep most stuff in the van (as with a VW of course!) during the season, just add clothes and food and you can be off at very short notice. Bliss! However, I do have to second Maat, it is a bit annoying that if you want to go somewhere from the campsite you have to pack up before going. You can never completely avoid this but the best way to deal with it is to be pretty tidy so there isn't loads to clear up and have a seperate tent - we use a 2 man Quechua pop up, to chuck all the stuff like chairs, toys, etc in so you don't have to pack everything away properly. The other down side is that there is of course much less living space than you generally get in a tent. Not too much of a problem if weather is fine but can be tricky if its raining. Lots of people add a driveaway awning to give more space. Despite these negatives we love our campervan and the freedom it gives us and our family to camp whenever we fancy. Cantbelieveitsnotbutter makes a very good point that it is really only worth having if you are going to use if a lot!

colleysmill Sun 14-Apr-13 00:34:48

Elderly! Not elderly wink

We have a 1987 t25. viva gave us some really good advice when buying ours if you scan back camping a few pages.

I think the points about packing everything up are very valid although it doesn't bother us - I think it tends to be what you've camped with before though, we've always had campers or motorhomes.

Honestly you need either a good mechanic or someone handy. And breakdown cover is essential. And a good contingency fund.

We've had our current van 7 months and we ruddy love it. In fairness though it is the one of two vehicles we actually own (the other being a classic car) so we don't have any other vehicle outlays.

If you're seriously looking then exterior condition trumps interior always.The club 80-90 website is really useful for pointers

colleysmill Sun 14-Apr-13 00:53:18

Dh (who admittedly had a few drinks tonight) says Life is Wedge shaped - do it!

Greydog Sun 14-Apr-13 19:19:25

Thank you all for your thoughts! I have spent the weekend looking at web sites! Didn't look at the Bongos, but will look at them when I start my next trawl! thanks again

Allegrogirl Sun 14-Apr-13 20:41:49

We're got an '88 T25 and we love it. DH is quite handy and knows lots about mechanics etc or I wouldn't have considered it. At the moment while the DCs are still small we sleep in a big tent together but the van is great for carting loads of kit and ideal for picnicing in on wet and cold days.
We've slept it in once with one of the DCs and it was too cramped. We plan to get a drive away tent for the DCs and we will sleep in the van.

Hoping the GPs will do the odd night of babysitting so DH and I can go off together this summer.

colleysmill 'Life is Wedge Shaped' my DH says that too.

sanityawol I'm in Devon. Would be interested in some recommendations for mechanics. Got a list of bits that need doing, as ever.

Another T25 owner here, although in fairness it's my DH's baby.

We do spend a bit on maintaining it but TBH it's our only asset that's going up in value because they are getting so popular.

chicaguapa Sun 14-Apr-13 22:52:08

I really wanted a campervan, even hired one for the weekend. We didn't want to camp in a tent, or want a motor home or caravan. We ended up getting a folding camper because it was cheaper and absolutely love it. We have more space with the DCs and feel it's a really good compromise. Ours is old enough to feel like we're being a bit quirky in it. We have a '98 Conway Cruiser and it only cost £2,000.

sanityawol Sun 14-Apr-13 23:06:57

Allegrogirl we're North Devon... If that's the right sort of area then pm me and I can give you a couple of contacts. I know that it takes me an hour and a half to get to Kingsbridge, for example, so if you're in the South they're probably a bit far away.

Does your username come from the car btw?

colleysmill Mon 15-Apr-13 07:36:42

I think there is a bit of a feeling that t25's are becoming more popular these days - some of threads I've read on other forums have noted a rise in spares prices and vans generally, especially on auction sites.

When we were looking we had a criteria - must have ehu, hard top and be in fairly useable condition (at the time we didn't have time to do massive refurb project). Realistically a t2 was way out of budget and I guess most people find that too.

Despite the long winter we have used the camper more than we thought - days out,weekends too (bravely!) It's also excellent for collecting a Christmas tree!
You have to run and use them to iron out the niggles - since we got her we've repaired bits and tweaked bits but its great great fun

Allegrogirl Mon 15-Apr-13 12:12:58

Yes sanityawol my user name is from the car blush. I've pinched it from DH who is car mad and has a soft spot a mile wide for Britcrap unloved British cars of the 70s and 80s. He is Allegroman on the anoraky urban exploration and car forums that he likes to frequent.

We're at the opposite side of Devon to you in Plymouth.

MrsHoarder Mon 15-Apr-13 12:20:33

We have a"white van man" van as a campervan and its great. Big enough that the daytime setup is how we drive itaround (move car seat off driver's seat and pop the kettle into the cupboard and we're off) but not a monster of a lorry. dh Can also make a brew in the morning with all the beds still out and without going outside.

Viviennemary Mon 15-Apr-13 12:27:53

I knew a person who hired one years ago to go to France. She hated it and came back early. But more positive I know two people who have them and they love them. But one person is thinking of selling because of justifying the expense for the amount of use. So that has to be taken into consideration.

sanityawol Mon 15-Apr-13 13:13:04

Allegrogirl my DH has only recently sold his Allegro. I feel your pain - he has an assortment of landcrabs and other assorted BMC crap gems in a barn. I suspect that your DH and mine may have crossed paths on other sites if I'm thinking of the same urban exploration one... I've caught DH looking at photos of Longbridge more than once!

If you're ever in need of paint / body wo rk there is a VW specialist in South Molton - not cheap, but bloody good and very thorough. He did our splitty resto for us (sadly we had to sell that one) and it was stunning.

colleys I think that's true with regard to prices - it happened to bay window vans when the splitty got too expensive for most people. It seems that now that T2s are creeping higher that the T25s are getting noticed. I've certainly seen more on the road lately.

Allegrogirl Mon 15-Apr-13 21:12:56

sanityawol bodywork will be required sometime in the future definitely. I'll bear S Molton in mind.

DH would be well jealous of a BMC crammed barn.

sanityawol Mon 15-Apr-13 22:18:38

Try "Austin 1800 Utility" out on your DH wink ...and the aggro even had a quartic steering wheel.

But if my experience is anything to go by, never let your DH have a barn or he will fill it with projects... the car equivalent of bringing home stray dogs. For a whole load of reasons we've been downsizing the fleet a bit lately, but it's now at the point where there are certain cars he can't decide between (none of them on the road, mind).

I've just had a quick google of VWs in SMolton, and it seems there are actually two garages that specialise up there (we're at the Cornwall end of North Devon so still a fair distance away). The one that I know is southwestvws.com. There is also Coast VWs, who are apparently T25 specialists, but I have no experience of them whatsoever so can't make any comment on whether they're good or bad.

I'm sure that you know this, but be a bit careful of some VW 'specialists' - a friend had problems with someone who did some downright dangerous 'modifications' on their van to do with the ride height, then did a flit and fucked off with lots of people's money. I'm sure that they're probably no longer in the county - if they are, from what I've heard about the work they have done they probably no longer have knee-caps.

Quenelle Tue 16-Apr-13 12:25:20

MrsHoarder how many can sleep in your campervan? And what's the bed configuration?

DH and I could never afford a decent one so have been thinking about buying a Transit and converting it. One of our criteria for layout is that we must be able to make a cup of tea and get outside with the beds still down. There are three of us: me, DH and almost 4yo DS, who looks like he's going to grow up tall.

MrsHoarder Tue 16-Apr-13 13:16:40

Quenelle its set up to sleep 2 adults and 2 children. There is a double bed which is unfolded from the sofa which faces the sliding door. There is then a kitchen area then right against the back door is a narrow set of bunks which fold away as bedding cupboards in the day.

The double is big enough for baby ds to comfortably cosleep. Also ours is an ex-ambulance so has 2 travelling seats in the back (either die of the sliding door). This means that there are 2 seats in the front and its possible to get out through the front rather than opening the sliding door to keep warm air in at night.

Quenelle Tue 16-Apr-13 13:38:44

Thanks MrsHoarder. Did you do the conversion yourselves? Was it difficult/expensive/time consuming?

MrsHoarder Tue 16-Apr-13 14:28:59

We didn't do it ourselves I'm afraid, bought it from eBay last autumn. DH has spent a lot of time improving it though, although my perception of a lot of time will be skewed by having a PFB. A lot of it is done with Ikea (cupboard doors, mattresses, lighting) but I have no feel for how much it would cost to do.

Quenelle Tue 16-Apr-13 14:31:31

Thanks again MrsHoarder. I think we're going to go for it. We've wanted one for so long and we won't get one any other way.

MrsHoarder Tue 16-Apr-13 14:52:48

I can recommend having a look on eBay, we were going to do our own pre-DS and realised we weren't going to have time for the next few years. The cost of the campervan wasn't much more than we'd been looking to pay for a van to adapt ourselves, with a lot less work.

colleysmill Tue 16-Apr-13 20:30:07

Auction sites can be a really good place to start (we bought ours off ebay) but having read around a bit from people much more "in the know" you need to be a bit savvy.

One thing I've learnt is that the angle and the photos that are posted might not always include the bits you really need to know (in the case of t25's there are certain critical areas for rust) so if you can't view always ask the seller for further photos. Viewing in person is ideal but not always easy - we viewed a few before we bought ours and test drove the ones we thought might be "goers" I still tend to think we were quite lucky giving we were slightly "green behind the gills".

Course as viva pointed out it doesn't prevent future problems but knowing what you're getting is a good start.

badguider Wed 17-Apr-13 17:14:47

We're in the process of having a Vauxhall Vivaro converted. Our van is I think 4/5yrs old with just under 50,000 miles on the clock. We wanted a reliable engine and decent fuel consumption.

1987 is really quite old... it's 26 years! I wouldn't be confident enough in my roadside mechanics or dealings with mechanic garages to have a van that old.

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