Tell me about camper vans
August 23, 2006 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Camper van question: I'm thinking of buying a vehicle in the next couple of months.

I do a fair amount of outdoor stuff like SCUBA, surfing, biking etc so I'm thinking of a van rather than a car so I can carry all my gear.
Since I like to camp I htought some kind of camper van would be ideal and for coolness factor I'm edging towards a VW camper. But I have questions...

What do I need to know?
Would it be worth just getting a commercial van and converting it to a camper?
Are there insurance implications for camper vans?
How economical/reliable are VW campers compared to similar vehicles?
Are there any online dealers (UK) where I can at least check out pics before travelling to view?
Left/Right hand drive? Much of a difference?
What other options are there?

I'm in the UK.
posted by jonesor to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was looking for camping gear before I bought my VW.
I figured for a pair of good bags, bed rolls, tent, cookware, packs, etc; and done right to last for more than a season; well...
Along came a decent vehicle with all the camp stuff already there. Swoosh.

Not unlike a goat; I have taken my VW on paths that have stopped 4x4 Z-71 Avalanches. Use, abuse, enjoy, fix, repair. The VW is a very sentient alternative to a closet full of stuff.

UK is better than the states VW-wise; you are closer to Westfalia yet. Luck!
posted by buzzman at 9:52 AM on August 23, 2006

Check out the Volkszone forums.
posted by veedubya at 10:03 AM on August 23, 2006

We have an '81 Vanagon Westphalia. I guess you're looking at more modern versions, but fwiw comments on the Vanagon:

Ours really is a great vehicle for camping (and some of my best sleeps have been inside it) but not so great for traveling, as it's quite underpowered by today's standards. Nowadays you want a vehicle that will climb freeway-grade hills in style, not creep up in the slow lane (35 mph in second gear -- ours is automatic). Despite being low-powered it only gets about 16 miles to the gallon, so check the petrol consumption of your proposed van, and possibly consider a diesel if that's available.

There are engine conversions for the Vanagon, which we're considering, as we love it too much to part with it. If the new VWs are like the '81 we have, plus modern power, they'll be wonderful.
posted by anadem at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2006

Dittos for anadems slow speed remark... It can be scary at times to *not* be able to do 65+.
My diesel gets 30 mpg, city and hway.
Read, read, and read some more about the Vanagon. Very organic, grow your own mechanical skills or pay others for them.
posted by buzzman at 3:07 PM on August 23, 2006

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