Best Volkswagen campervan conversions
What are the best options when it comes to VW campervan conversions?
Volkswagen Type 2 van is a bona fide classic. As well as being popular as a commercial vehicle and passenger transport, the Type 2 or Kombi has also been converted into a campervan by many companies. The Type 2 has gained a reputation as a car suited to adventure, while well maintained examples are real collector's items these days.
However you don't have to go for a classic to get the Type 2 campervan experience. The Type 2 only ceased production in 2013 when the last one rolled off VW Brazil's production line, and companies such as Danbury Motor Caravans will convert one to offer a dormer roof, kitchen with fridge/freezer, a CD stereoand of course a bed.
You do pay handsomely for the priviledge of owning one, as they cost in excess of £30,000. There are companies that rent this classic campers, but if you want to own one, you might be better served by a modern campervan.
Buy a campervan coversion based on the dependable and up-to-date Volkswagen T5 Transporter, and you'll have modern mechanicals to rely upon. The T5 and later T6 have both become a go-to choice for fans of outdoor pursuits like surfing, just like its predecessor. And as a result the VW will hold its value better than conversions based on the Mercedes Vito, Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic, and even the Ford Transit.
Visit your local Volkswagen van dealer, and you can get your hands on a California. This factory conversion has everything you could possibly want, from neatly integrated kitchens with masses of storage to heaters and a bed in the lift-up roof. Plus, options include three-zone air-con, a 32-litre coolbox and Wi-Fi. However, these models are pretty pricey, ranging from around £40,000 to £58,000.
If you don’t have such a big budget, you can get an existing Transporter or Caravelle converted into a campervan at a fraction of the cost. Some drivers have even turned the smaller VW Caddy van into a camper, although this will have limited space. Yet whichever model you go for, there’s a legion of companies queuing up to do the work for you, and a variety of custom options.
Whether you want a full campervan, complete with a pop-up dormer roof to make space for a bedroom, or simply a day van for short trips out with the family, the best starting point for a conversion is a long-wheelbase Caravelle or Shuttle, as it has the anchor points for rear seats, plus rear heating and soundproofing, that a Transporter van won’t.
Either way, a long wheelbase will obviously give you more room, while the 178bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel will provide more power when fully loaded than the 138bhp version. Convert an older, used van, and you could even go for a 2.5-litre diesel.
Once you’ve got your van as a starting point, you can decide exactly how you want to kit out your camper – something that’s obviously not an option with a factory conversion. And whether you get a company to do the work or do it yourself, the first step is to fit proper insulation. Swivel functions for the driver and front passenger seats are also essential, as is a Rock and Roll bed.
The latter incorporates seatbelts and crash protection, so can be used to seat passengers on a journey, before being converted into a double bed with ease. Even when folded out, the bed leaves space for a kitchen in most campervan conversions – many will comprise a two-burner stove, a sink and a Waeco fridge, as well as plenty of storage cupboards.
Need room for more than two people to sleep? A pop-up roof obviously adds to the cost, but it brings an extra bedroom up above. Also check out new innovations like the Danbury Doubleback, with its slide-out rear boosting space.
So there’s clearly a whole host of options for anyone considering a VW campervan conversion. But whether you want a factory-built model, prefer to go down the aftermarket route or are looking to carry out a DIY conversion, you’ll end up with one of the safest investments on the car market – as the Volkswagen campervan is always in demand.
Have you ever owned a VW campervan? Tell us about it in the comments...