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10 Greatest Vans For Your Camper Van Conversion

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Selecting the bottom in your camper van conversion is a giant determination, and it could get a bit overwhelming. This helpful information will stroll you thru what to search for when buying in your van. Plus, we’ll provide the 10 finest vans in your van conversion and reply all of your questions on van conversions!

Camper Van Conversion Price

Very first thing’s first, let’s speak about cash. The associated fee to transform a van to a camper van will be cut up into two massive bills: the price of shopping for your van to transform and the price of really changing it. 

The Worth of the Van

The commonest vans to transform are cargo vans, such because the Ford Transit. These massive automobiles have spacious interiors and are sometimes fully empty apart from the entrance seating, making for simple changing. 

A brand new cargo van will often run between $25,000 to $40,000, relying on the make and mannequin. Used cargo vans will probably be cheaper, typically being within the $15,000 to $20,000 vary or much less. Older fashions of cargo vans can typically even be discovered for below $10,000. 

The Worth of the Conversion

After you have a base to transform, you then’ll have to contemplate the prices of conversion. For those who pay an expert firm to do your conversion, you’re a minimal of round $10,000. That’s simply the beginning with costs going all the way in which to $200,000 and past! {Most professional} van conversions will fall within the $30,000 to $60,000 vary.

For those who’re the helpful kind, it’s additionally potential to do a DIY campervan conversion. This may be considerably cheaper, operating between $5,000 and $15,000 in your typical construct. However, it’s potential to do a DIY construct for as little as $1,000!

Essential Standards for Selecting a Van to Convert

When looking for the appropriate van to transform, there are a handful of stuff you’ll wish to take into consideration. These concerns will have an effect on what you may put in your van, the place you may take it, and even how a lot it’s going to value you upfront and long-term. Let’s check out every one in flip:

  1. Peak
  2. Size and width
  3. Make
  4. Gas effectivity
  5. Gas kind: fuel or diesel
  6. Drivetrain
  7. Weight restrict
  8. Used vs. new

1. Peak

The peak of your van can have a giant impact on consolation. You’ll in all probability need to have the ability to arise inside your van, so it’s necessary to ensure the inside peak is ample. 

A normal Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has simply shy of 68 inches of inside standing peak, so anybody taller than 5’6” would possibly discover the usual mannequin a bit quick. Fortunately, many cargo vans can have a “excessive roof” mannequin. A excessive roof Sprinter has 79 inches of standing room, which will probably be snug for anybody as much as 6’6”. 

Remember the fact that you’ll eat into the headroom once you put down flooring, insulation, and ceiling supplies.

2. Size and Width

In addition to peak, you’ll additionally wish to think about the opposite dimensions of your van. The size of your van can have an enormous impact on how a lot area you have got once you convert a van to a camper van. An extended van means extra room for extra stuff, like a bigger mattress or kitchenette. 

Cargo van size will partly be decided by the wheelbase – the space between the entrance and rear wheels. Sprinters have both 144-inch or 170-inch wheelbases. Producers will even typically have an “prolonged” mannequin, which has a good longer physique on high of the longer wheelbase.

The width of your conversion van camper is much less important, and also you’re unlikely to seek out totally different widths of the identical mannequin of van. Nevertheless, it could nonetheless make a distinction in residing area and can assist you resolve totally different makes of van. For instance, the inside of a Ram Promaster is 75.6 inches throughout at its widest level, whereas a Ford Transit is simply 70.2 inches throughout.

You would possibly assume that 5 inches don’t matter, however identical to peak, you’ll lose inches once you set up insulation and partitions.

3. Make

Every automotive producer can have its distinctive van that can have its benefits and drawbacks. However, past the particular mannequin of your van, there are additionally just a few the reason why one make of cargo van will be higher than one other.

Ease of repairs

The largest distinction will probably be getting repairs. A Mercedes-Benz will probably be costlier to restore than a Ford. In line with CarEdge, a Mercedes-Benz will value, on common, $18,364 in repairs and upkeep in its first 10 years. By comparability, a Ford Transit would require a mean of $11,701 in repairs and upkeep in the identical interval.

Reliability

Some makes of vans might also be extra dependable than others. In line with CarEdge’s knowledge, a RAM ProMaster has a 63.2% probability of needing a serious restore in its first 10 years, in comparison with solely a 35.32% probability for a Ford Transit.

Availability of dealerships

Additionally, if you wish to get repairs executed at a dealership, you’ll discover some makes of automobiles have extra dealerships than others. There are over 3,000 Ford dealerships within the US and over 2,400 dealerships for RAM vehicles, whereas Mercedes-Benz solely has a paltry 383 dealerships throughout the US. 

4. Gas Effectivity

One among your greatest bills when residing in a camper van conversion goes to be gas. And whereas no van goes to beat a sedan in relation to fuel mileage, some vans are undoubtedly extra fuel-efficient than others. 

If we take a look at a comparability of fuel mileage from Momentum, we are able to see that Ford automobiles are the general winners for fuel mileage. A diesel engine Ford Transit will get 22 miles to the gallon, whereas a Nissan NV will get solely 15. That may make a giant distinction over time!

Momentum fuel mileage table
Common vans and their gas mileage (miles per gallon). Desk from Momentum.

Your actual gas effectivity will after all rely in your construct and the way heavy it’s, in addition to how and the place you drive. However particularly for those who plan to journey extensively, a extra fuel-efficient van for the bottom of your conversion is a sensible determination.

5. Fuel or Diesel

Talking of gas, you’ll even have the choice of both a gasoline or diesel-powered automobile. Every has its personal benefits and neither is essentially higher than the opposite.

Typically talking, a diesel engine is extra fuel-efficient and extra sturdy than a fuel engine. Additionally they present extra torque, making them higher at climbing inclines. The downsides are that diesel automobiles will probably be costlier to buy and preserve. 

A gas-powered van will probably be cheaper to purchase and preserve than diesel, however are much less sturdy and require extra frequent upkeep. Fuel engines additionally are usually higher suited to chilly climate. 

6. Drivetrain

A automobile’s drivetrain refers to all of the components that take the ability from the automobile’s engine and ship it to the wheels. You’ve possible heard of the several types of drivetrain earlier than:

  • Entrance-Wheel Drive or FWD
  • Rear-Wheel Drive or RWD
  • All-Wheel Drive or AWD

The distinction has to do with which set (or units) of wheels obtain energy from the engine and truly transfer the automotive ahead. 

A front-wheel-drive automobile receives energy solely to the entrance two wheels, whereas rear-wheel-drive powers solely the rear set of wheels. And as you may in all probability guess, all-wheel-drive powers all 4 wheels on the automotive. 

With most camper van conversions, RWD is best than FWD. It is because most of your weight goes to be in the direction of the again of your van, usually the place all of your furnishings and issues are. This can enable for higher management and traction. 

AWD’s essential benefit is offering higher traction off-road and in snow or intense rain. For those who plan on utilizing your van in these circumstances, AWD may come in useful. 

7. Weight Restrict

No matter automobile you utilize in your camper van conversion, it’s going to have a weight restrict. Exceeding the load restrict will severely harm the van, so it’s necessary you retain your construct below that restrict. 

When eradicating the load of the van itself, you’ll be left with someplace between 1,000 and 6,000 kilos you can add to the van. Most producers can have totally different configurations of their vans with totally different weight limits. So, yow will discover a configuration to fit your desired construct. 

8. Used vs New

Total, it’s pretty simple to discover a used cargo van, even one which’s comparatively new. This may prevent some huge cash. Due to this, shopping for a used van is a well-liked selection and is really useful for those who’re changing a camper van on a price range. However, shopping for used does include some caveats.

Initially, you’ll should do an intensive inspection when shopping for a used van. For those who don’t do your due diligence, you might end up with a automobile that prices you extra in the long term than a brand new van ever would. And on the finish of the day, even one of the best maintained used van continues to be used, and received’t final so long as a brand new automobile would. 

Shopping for new additionally has its perks for those who can afford it. Whereas a brand new automobile has a better price ticket, you’ll even have the benefit of a guaranty and the reassurance of a automobile free of wear and tear and tear. Plus, you may configure a brand new automobile precisely to your wants as a substitute of looking for a used one which has what you need.

Professionals and Cons of Doing a DIY Camper Van Conversion

Doing all of your camper van conversion your self will be rewarding and have quite a lot of advantages in case you have the know-how. However, you’ll should hold just a few drawbacks in thoughts.

Professionals

  • Price – The largest benefit of DIY camper van conversion is value. A DIY conversion will probably be considerably cheaper than an expert one, with the most affordable DIY conversions even costing $1,000 or much less.
  • Inventive freedom – DIY offers you full management over your construct. You may make certain that every part is constructed precisely to your specs. 

Cons

  • Added bills – You’ll want loads of instruments, together with energy instruments, to do a camper van conversion. You could even have to purchase or hire new instruments, which will be an added expense.
  • Know-how – Constructing a van will take some data. For those who don’t have any related expertise constructing issues, you would possibly discover it very difficult. 
  • Labor and time – A DIY van construct requires bodily labor, plus you’ll should make the time in your schedule to do all that tough work.

Professionals and Cons of Hiring a Skilled Van Conversion Firm

There are quite a lot of nice issues about hiring an expert van conversion firm in your conversion. However, there are additionally just a few distinct downsides.

Professionals

  • Expertise – Knowledgeable conversion firm, particularly a profitable one, can have extremely skilled workers performing the work. Which means you will be assured you’re getting a top quality, dependable construct.
  • Insurnace – Professionally-built vans will probably be simpler to insure than DIY.
  • Much less headache – It can save you your self numerous time, laborious work, and frustration by paying an expert.

Cons

  • Dearer – Knowledgeable camper van conversion is sort of at all times going to be costlier than DIY.
  • Sketchy firms – You’ll should do your analysis; for those who do your conversion by an inexperienced, unvetted firm, you run the danger of getting a low-quality van. 
  • Wait time – You may need to attend fairly some time in your conversion, as well-liked van conversion firms are sometimes booked months prematurely. And that’s on high of the time wanted to really construct the van.

10 Greatest Vans For Your Camper Conversion

Now that you recognize what to search for in a van to transform, let’s take a look at 10 of one of the best vans in your camper van conversion.

1. Ford Transit

White Ford Transit van

The Ford Transit is a vastly well-liked cargo van for camper van conversions – and for good cause. They’ve one of the best gas economic system of their rivals on high of being extremely dependable.

The Ford Transit has three roof heights (low, medium, and excessive), three lengths (common, lengthy, and prolonged), and is on the market with rear- or all-wheel drive. The Ford Transit’s customizability, reliability, and effectivity make it the most effective vans if you wish to convert a camper van.

No surprise there are such a lot of van lifers who use this van.

2. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

White Mercedes Sprinter van

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is likely one of the hottest fashions for a conversion van camper and it’s simple to see why. These vans are prime quality and extremely engineered, with the standard you count on from a luxurious model like Mercedes-Benz. 

The Sprinter is available in three lengths (144” wheelbase, 170” wheelbase, and 17” prolonged wheelbase) and two roof heights (normal and excessive). The Sprinter has rear-wheel drive by default however can also be out there with a “4×4” drivetrain. That is primarily all-wheel drive which will be engaged and disengaged when wanted. 

The Sprinter’s prime quality has made it so well-liked that “Sprinter van” is usually used as a catch-all time period for any cargo van. For those who resolve on a Sprinter in your camper van conversion, you’ll be in good firm!

3. RAM Promaster

Charcoal grey Ram Promaster van

Though it doesn’t get talked about as a lot in discussions of van conversions, the RAM Promaster continues to be a fantastic possibility. Plus, it’s bought just a few distinctive options that set it other than different cargo vans. 

For one, the RAM Promaster has the widest physique out of the favored cargo vans, permitting for extra space in your construct. Plus, the flat-sided partitions could make that construct simpler. It’s also distinctive in having front-wheel drive the place hottest vans have rear-wheel drive. 

RAM Promasters additionally are available in 4 totally different lengths (8’ cargo size/118” wheelbase, 10’ cargo size/136” wheelbase, 12’ cargo size/159” wheelbase, and 13’ cargo size/159” prolonged wheelbase) with two roof heights (normal and excessive). 

Due to these distinctive options, a RAM Promaster is usually a nice selection for a novel van to camper van conversion.

4. Nissan NV

White Nissan NV van
10 Greatest Vans For Your Camper Van Conversion 1

The Nissan NV is a unique-looking little cargo van that’s not particularly well-liked. Actually, will probably be discontinued after 2021. Regardless of that, it could nonetheless be a sensible choice for a camper van conversion.

In addition to simply standing out from the gang, the Nissan NV’s distinctive look could make it a bit higher for stealth tenting. As a result of it’s solely hardly ever used for conversions, it’s much less more likely to be acknowledged as a camper van. And like with most Japanese automotive producers, Nissan has a repute for reliability and high quality manufacturing.

5. Ford E collection

White Ford Econoline
10 Greatest Vans For Your Camper Van Conversion 2

Now that we’ve gone by the fashionable choices, it’s time to get right into a basic. The Ford E collection, previously often called Ford Econoline, is the precursor to the fashionable Ford Transit. It has lots of some great benefits of a brand new Ford van, however due to their age, yow will discover them extraordinarily low-cost.

Ford produced E collection cargo vans from the Nineteen Sixties up by 2014, so a variety of fashions will be discovered on the market, together with comparatively new ones.

6. Chevy Categorical/GMC Savana

Beige and red Chevy Express van

One other selection for traditional cargo vans is the Chevy Categorical, additionally offered as a GMC Savana. Though these are nonetheless produced by Chevy, it’s extra widespread to see older fashions used for camper van conversions. 

Like every older mannequin of van, the most important benefit goes to be decrease value. And, like most older automobiles, an older van is usually a bit extra easy to restore.

7. Compact Cargo Vans (Mercedes Metris, Ford Transit Join, RAM ProMaster Metropolis)

Each main mannequin of cargo van additionally has a “sister” mannequin which is smaller and extra compact:

These compact cargo vans are largely much like their larger counterpart however smaller in nearly each dimension. They’re additionally a bit cheaper than bigger fashions. They’re a bit small for many camper van conversions, however for many who don’t thoughts much less room, they’re nice for an ultra-compact camper.

8. Step Vans

White step van
10 Greatest Vans For Your Camper Van Conversion 3

A “step van,” also referred to as a multi-stop truck, refers back to the massive, blocky vans utilized by postal and supply employees. You additionally see them in different functions like ice cream vehicles and meals vehicles. 

These vans are a sensible choice for a camper van conversion as a result of they’re very roomy and durable. Plus, their flat sides could make for a neater camper van conversion. And even higher, they’ll typically be gotten fairly cheaply used or by way of auctions.

9. College Buses

Possibly a bus doesn’t fairly qualify as a “van” conversion, per se. However, if loads of area is what you need, it’s laborious to beat a faculty bus construct. These huge automobiles present tons of room and are best if you wish to have your entire household stay in an RV. 

Typically often called “skoolies,” this specific fashion of camper van conversion is pretty well-liked and has fairly a following. Old fashioned buses can typically be purchased cheaply at public sale and each DIY {and professional} conversion are potential. 

The key downsides of skoolies are that they’re a lot tougher to navigate than a cargo van, particularly in slim metropolis streets. And, they’re not practically as fuel-efficient, getting solely 6 to 12 miles to the gallon. However, if you need most area in your camper, it’s laborious to beat a bus.

10. Distinctive Autos

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