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Old Campervan?

Walls82Walls82 Posts: 126
edited August 2015 in The cake stop
My girlfriend and I are in the market for a small campervan, about 15-20k to spend.

She wants a pretty older styles VW campervan which I admit I like the look of, but the practical side of me is worrying about reliability and driving without power steering. Not sure if there is a particular engine to look out for, lots of people selling with reconditioned engines?

I've driven a new VW California so I know they are easy to drive and from what I've heard reliable. But I doubt its going to fill me with joy every time I look at it, you wouldn't buy an ugly bike because its practical over a nice looking one that makes you want to ride it!

Be interested to hear some owners experiences - also where people bought there's from and things to look out for?
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  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    T5 have lots of problems.

    http://www.vwt4forum.co.uk/
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    my boss really wanted an old VW camper - but we went for a modern van conversion as it has fixed bed and separate toilet/shower compartment - not much fun having to pull out a porta-potti in the middle of the night!
    Ok - you could have a toilet tent ... but then you've got to get out of the van ... at least we can just stop the van and "go" ....
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    Old VW camper vans are great for image, less good for practicality. Lack of power steering, low-powered engines, lack of modern safety features are some of the issues. As nicklouse says, the modern T5 vans can have problems and you wouldn't get one in your price range anyway.

    Unless you are absolutely set on having a VW, a conversion of a Japanese import is worth considering. I suspect they would be more reliable, better to drive, quicker and much better equipped than an old VW. Have a look at www.wellhouseleisure.com. They've currently got some decent Toyota camper conversions in the 15-20k price bracket. Their latest conversion is on the Toyota Alphard (effectively a Lexus and really high spec) but prices are a bit higher than you want to pay at 20-25k.

    Wellhouse conversions are really good and have won many awards. I have a Wellhouse Hyundai i800 camper. Much cheaper, more like a car to drive, higher spec and less complicated engine/electrics than VW's top end California.
  • bikes`n`gunsbikes`n`guns Posts: 959
    I went out and looked at 25 VW campers,, then bought a Toyota Hiace.


    VW`s are censored basically. Cool, but censored .

    Hiace hi top camper, Jap import, rust free and brilliant bits of kit. Well within your budget, even for a very high end one.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • VelonutterVelonutter Posts: 2,437 Lives Here
    We bring in loads of VW's, mainly from San Francisco area, you'll save a small fortune getting it states side and then importing it.

    The market is big and we are regularly asked to import them.

    £15-20K UK side will buy you something fantastic from the States and you can import at 0% Duty and 5% VAT with a BTI application.
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    And there are power steering kits that can be fitted.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,283
    I went out and looked at 25 VW campers,, then bought a Toyota Hiace.


    VW`s are censored basically. Cool, but censored .

    Hiace hi top camper, Jap import, rust free and brilliant bits of kit. Well within your budget, even for a very high end one.

    I could not agree more except I amtoo old to think they are cool. They are just censored .
  • Walls82Walls82 Posts: 126
    It sounds like style over substance with the old VW vans.

    With a 3 year old safety features are a factor as well doesn't look like there is much protection in an old van!

    Like the look of wellhouseleisure vans will investigate further thanks!
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    I've been recommended a Mazda Bongo once but there's a bigger brother too. Reliable and cheaper than a vw.
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    I owned a Type 2 Bay Window.

    As you say lovely to look at although not practical but that's not why any of us own them.

    Like VN says if you can import from a dry state in the U.S. or Australia then you should avoid the big rust issues that plague old VW's.

    Be prepared to spend as much as you can afford and then expect to continue to shell out to look after it and keep it on the road.
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    This forum might be useful for you.

    http://www.volkszone.com/VZi/
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • debelidebeli Posts: 583
    How old do you want to go?

    The Split and Bay seem very costly these days and the front-engined VWs have somehow become "Anyvan" with a wry styling nod to a decade nobody can quite identify.

    I am not in the market, but if I were I'd take a peek at the Eightlies T2 models. They have the 'jolie-laide' look of a shuttle from the original series of Star Trek, but they are roomy, characterful, solid, fun to drive and somehow still imbued with the charm of the earlier models.

    Whatever you end up with, this will be a fun purchase... but if you're buying older, keep some of the cash back to keep it on the road. Campers have weird lives and long periods sitting idle can do as much damage as constant slogs up and down the road.

    Have fun!
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,057
    Too trendy, and therefore overpriced.

    If you had got one 5 years ago you could be on a tidy profit today.

    Practical - get something else.
    Image - expect to get ripped off.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    How old do you want to go?

    The Split and Bay seem very costly these days and the front-engined VWs have somehow become "Anyvan" with a wry styling nod to a decade nobody can quite identify.

    I am not in the market, but if I were I'd take a peek at the Eightlies T2 models. They have the 'jolie-laide' look of a shuttle from the original series of Star Trek, but they are roomy, characterful, solid, fun to drive and somehow still imbued with the charm of the earlier models.

    Whatever you end up with, this will be a fun purchase... but if you're buying older, keep some of the cash back to keep it on the road. Campers have weird lives and long periods sitting idle can do as much damage as constant slogs up and down the road.

    Have fun!
    Don't you mean T3 as the rest of the world calls them only the UK calls them T25s
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • bikes`n`gunsbikes`n`guns Posts: 959
    T25`s are the bloody worst of the lot.

    Can anyone say "floor is detached from van due to water down the back of the sink " ?


    Seriously They are censored . And this is from someone who owns a few classic vehicles and is having a beetle built just now.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • Walls82Walls82 Posts: 126
    I managed to persuade the mrs that buying an older camper van is not ideal doing some more research and reading about struggling up hills difficult to drive etc.

    Now leaning towards a Japanese import or possibly a T5 - still struggling to work out the pricing with VW campervans why is this 20k

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VW-Camper-T5-LWB-/221835607344?hash=item33a66ebd30

    and this is 24k

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VW-Camper-van-with-pop-top-/252033608283?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3aae5faa5b

    Seems to be a lot more consistency with the other makes.

    I've done some searching on google but does anyone know of campervan specialists nearish London, this place seems like the best place so far for range http://www.campervancentre.com/ need to see some vans in the flesh now.
  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    I'm a bit surprised that everyone is making a big deal about the steering, which really isn't an issue as the front end is very light and the wheel is MASSIVE! The two biggest problems, especially in the damp, dirty UK, are the foot pump operated windscreen washers (you have to use a bike/foot pump to pressurise the system and then as you use it the pressure gets less so the washer spray becomes a useless, pathetic dribble - to the point that you carry around a fairy liquid, other brands are available, bottle with screenwash in it and just open the window and squeeze it on the windscreen!) and the absolutely awful "heating" system. You WILL regularly change heat exchangers and even when they are working the amount of "heat" that they deliver isn't enough to demist the windscreen on a mildly damp, cold morning. God help you getting back in it all hot from a ride, you will never keep the windscreen clear! Again, a chamois cloth to keep it clean (without smears) works but the initial clearing will need some sort of heater on the driveway (we used to chuck an air blower in there on an extension lead).

    Like most of these things - brilliant in theory, awful in practice.

    Oh, and I drive a T5 now and it's been perfect!
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • pinnopinno Posts: 45,289
    I loved my 74 Devon conversion bay. The steering wasn't heavy. If you tend to go on holiday in the summer like most people, then the lack of a good heater or misting up isn't much of a problem. If you park up at half decent camp sites, then there's no issue with a lack of a toilet or lack of a shower.
    Reliability? They are not too bad. My one had a 2000cc engine in it fully restored (not original). I re-wired the whole thing completely and fitted a second battery so that you could charge it as you drove and then run the interior strip lights when parked up off the 2nd battery. Gas cooker was fine.
    The thing about the older camper vans is that they are so full of character. You can drive them all day and not feel tired. The visibility is fantastic and you end up in a 'club' involuntarily which has it's plus side, especially if you break down.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    I loved my 74 Devon conversion bay.

    Which Devon conversion was it? My first one was a 78 Moonraker (with elevating roof and twin bunks) but built on the van chassis rather than the Kombi and with a 1600 engine which was a tad asthmatic!
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    To the OP. Have a look at http://www.sussexcampervans.com. They are at Horsham, handy for London, and have an informative website. They do an interesting conversion of the Nissan NV200 which is a sort of mini VW style camper as well as other vehicles.

    VW T5 conversions are expensive, partly due to the "cool" image of the old VW campers. There is also a difference in the price of pre and post facelift T5 models (as in the two examples you highlighted). Be aware that there is a big variation in the quality and type of conversions and in the spec of the base vehicle. I would go for the 140bhp or over models as the lower powered ones may be a touch sluggish when converted. Features like air con, at least one swivelling front seat, passenger air bag and a crash-tested rear bench seat or even full vehicle type approval are all desirable.

    Owning an old VW camper, like with any vintage or classic vehicle, can be a great hobby. But you have to accept it will not be up to modern performance or safety standards and will need cash, skill and time to keep on the road.

    A conversion of a modern van or people carrier, whether T5, Merc, Vauxhall, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda etc, will keep up with modern traffic and be a much better and safer vehicle for everyday use. One extra tip: If your van is below 2m high when the pop-up roof is down you will pay less on foreign motorway tolls and be able to get into height barriered car parks.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 45,289
    I loved my 74 Devon conversion bay.

    Which Devon conversion was it? My first one was a 78 Moonraker (with elevating roof and twin bunks) but built on the van chassis rather than the Kombi and with a 1600 engine which was a tad asthmatic!

    Not entirely sure. It had the elevated roof and twin bunks too, a sort of thick nylon on poles that wrapped up for storage. It did not swivel on a hinge - straight up, blue and white striped canvas. Fitted 70's orange Formica cooker, sink and work top covers, one skylight tinted in 70's orange, foot floor pump for sink water, 2 separate front seats - not a bench seat. Dining table (matching 70's orange Formica topped) was part of the bed extension and was mounted on a pole in the middle of the floor for a table.
    Yes, the 2l engine, (restored in Birmingham some where), gave it a little extra but they didn't change the rocker covers or gaskets. It leaked from the minute I got it back in and started as the rocker covers had tiny perforations because of rust. When I called them, they said to have new one's was extra! £550 to do the engine 15 years ago.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • ballysmateballysmate Posts: 15,903
    Are N and VN actually Max and Paddy?
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    I loved my 74 Devon conversion bay.

    Cheeky fecker, the grief you used to give me when I said that I'd owned a bus :lol:
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • Alain QuayAlain Quay Posts: 534
    We bring in loads of VW's, mainly from San Francisco area, you'll save a small fortune getting it states side and then importing it.

    The market is big and we are regularly asked to import them.

    £15-20K UK side will buy you something fantastic from the States and you can import at 0% Duty and 5% VAT with a BTI application.

    But all left hand drive, presumably...
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    If you tend to go on holiday in the summer like most people, then the lack of a good heater or misting up isn't much of a problem. If you park up at half decent camp sites, then there's no issue with a lack of a toilet or lack of a shower.
    Whereas we can just jump into our Van and head off where we want - ongrid/offgrid - it doesn't matter - get back from a long wet/dirty ride - jump into the shower, heating is on and everything is comfy ... the only downside is that you can't go to the toilet whilst the shower is in use - unless you're the one using the shower... :o
    The thing about the older camper vans is that they are so full of character. You can drive them all day and not feel tired. The visibility is fantastic and you end up in a 'club' involuntarily which has it's plus side, especially if you break down.
    yup - that's the big downside to our van - there's no character - it's just a van .... so choice of vehicle does come down to what you want from it ... I wanted one where I could turn up to rides and get changed in comfort and use as a base on holidays, and it needed to be reliable - I want to spend my leisure time how I choose, not fixing the vehicle! (although I've now got a leaking rooflight - temp fix with gaffertape! and a wind out awning to fix)
  • VelonutterVelonutter Posts: 2,437 Lives Here
    We bring in loads of VW's, mainly from San Francisco area, you'll save a small fortune getting it states side and then importing it.

    The market is big and we are regularly asked to import them.

    £15-20K UK side will buy you something fantastic from the States and you can import at 0% Duty and 5% VAT with a BTI application.

    But all left hand drive, presumably...

    Yes they are, but if you plan on using it to tour in Europe then not a problem or alternatively strip and convert with modern running gear to RHD

    I have a number of cars and among them is my LHD 1947 Chevy Hotrod, LHD and I wouldn't have it any other way, easy to drive on our roads and I did 200 miles in it this weekend through heavy rain and vision was fine with no worries.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 45,289
    I loved my 74 Devon conversion bay.

    Cheeky fecker, the grief you used to give me when I said that I'd owned a bus :lol:

    I called mine 'the bus'.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • priorypriory Posts: 743
    http://www.thelittlebluebay.co.uk/vw-camper-van-sales-for-saleFrank-17.php

    I know one of these chaps and he is enthusiastic about them . That completes my knowledge of campervans.
    Raleigh Eclipse, , Dahon Jetstream XP, Raleigh Banana, Dawes super galaxy, Raleigh Clubman

    http://s189.photobucket.com/albums/z122 ... =slideshow
  • pinnopinno Posts: 45,289
    http://www.thelittlebluebay.co.uk/vw-camper-van-sales-for-saleFrank-17.php

    I know one of these chaps and he is enthusiastic about them . That completes my knowledge of campervans.

    Look what happens when you buy a campervan, it's like magic:

    43_20141024_145223.jpg
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    http://www.thelittlebluebay.co.uk/vw-camper-van-sales-for-saleFrank-17.php

    I know one of these chaps and he is enthusiastic about them . That completes my knowledge of campervans.

    Look what happens when you buy a campervan, it's like magic:

    43_20141024_145223.jpg

    Which one's you :P
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
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