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Converting a van to a camper to ski (and avoid covid)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
There are an awful lot of vans out there asking for too much based on a nice fit out of an old or high mileage van with dubious MOT advisories- a bit like every tradesman in the country has converted his knackered old van to cash in. And as for the price of actual motorhomes -seems you can ask the earth for anything post 2000. I know some of those may have been cherished but there seems to be no correlation with traditional motor vehicle depreciation.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Layne, I fall very much in to the covid crew on campervans, having bought ours November 2020, but it was something we'd been talking about pre covid. I got rid of my car last summer and just used the girlfriends up until November, then the van came up for sale, and as we had rescued a dog, it made sense to just get the van then, albeit it probably cost a lot more than pre covid. I still think for what we got it was a good price, on autotrader currently, the closest equivalent to our van is on at £16k, ours though had windows in the back and a row of seats, where as that van doesn't, I paid £14.7k.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@swskier, I wouldn't say everything is massively overpriced and I am guessing even with Covid November 2020 would have been a slower time for people buying and selling. For us it was more not needing to or wanting to rush halfway across the country feeling almost compelled to buy and/or compromising too much on spec. We know a lot more about what we want now but kitchen renovation is a higher priority and our usage is more related to kids growing up, semi-retirement a couple of years down the line.
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OH has just done this feature on what it's like to spend seasons in a motor-home in a ski resort.

Our friends have done a fair few seasons and Steve is a truly massive reference book of information and experience.

https://stylealtitude.com/motorhome-campervan-ski-resorts-guide.html

If you have any questions I'll bounce them off him over a beer.

I only get remotely envious when they up-sticks to avoid the French Half term hordes.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Weathercam, Nice little article and your friends use their van very much as we do, in fact we would never have started snowboarding or skiing if we hadn't bought the motorhome. We've owned it for 13 years now and would get 85% of the purchase price if we sold it today, trouble is the 10 month waiting list for the new one and the hugely increased price.

For anyone contemplating a motorhome an A class van isn't absolutely essential for ski trips, many European built C class vans are more than adequate but UK vans aren't.
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@BoardieK, interested in your perspective. I know supply and demand but would your vehicle honestly be worth the price you could get or would it be a ticking bomb of things that are on the verge of wearing out/ leaking/ corroding? (Appreciate you may have invested significantly in ongoing upkeep). As i said there appears no correlation with normal principles of depreciation at the moment with many bragging of getting back what they paid for vans etc.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Dave of the Marmottes, 70,000 miles. I had to spend a week under it last year undo the rust on the Alko axle (8mm thick), the Fiat body and Alko chassis are both galvanised. Body is grp and comes up like new, there is minor damage on the rear bumper, interior is almost unmarked. All appliances work perfectly and I've replaced a few skylights but not because of any water ingress.
The engine bay shows many winter's of driving on salty roads and there are a few brackets need replacing plus a bit of rust on the seams around the front I've gone through several brake discs as it sits unused in misty wet Cornish Spring when we return but all are currently perfect.
Two years ago it was probably worth 70% of what we paid and might well be again by this time next year. The price of an equivalent new van has doubled in 13 years: and there are NO discounts on new ones Sad
The glow plugs don't all work but garages don't seem interested, nevertheless it's only been a bit of a problem once in the last 2 winter's.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@BoardieK, "I've gone through several brake discs as it sits unused in misty wet Cornish Spring when we return but all are currently perfect."

Some industrial pallet/shrink wrap to cover the front wheels is quite rudimentary but effective when standing for a while.

Just parked on the street for us here when they fling salt and grit it's terrible for the disc even over a period of 2 to 3 days, the above is quick and cheap but stops it.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Dave of the Marmottes, @BoardieK, when I see how much time my mate works / maintains his "truck" it's akin to having a boat, where apart from being a skipper and all that entails, you have to be an engineer as well. Otherwise, you're going to be spending a lot of cash.

Only a few days ago he was having to clean all his tanks out, as in the summer heat, there's the fear of nasties (legionnaire disease) from the water in them etc

He says modern vans don't enable you to get to all the parts (pipes etc) that have a tendency to go wrong.
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Weathercam wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes, @BoardieK, when I see how much time my mate works / maintains his "truck" it's akin to having a boat, where apart from being a skipper and all that entails, you have to be an engineer as well. Otherwise, you're going to be spending a lot of cash.


Think that's very dependant on how you use it and how fussy you are. The T25 and T4 my dad had didn't really take much work in terms of the camping part of it, most of the things they had done to them over the years were mechanical or aesthetic.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude, think in this thread the main gist is about using a van to ski, and I for one do not see too many VW camper-vans parked up in the depths of winter doing the whole season etc

The vans you do see are substantial, plumbing, heating, generators, solar panels, insulation etc all stuff that can and does go wrong.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Which is why I prefer the modular approach to a camper van. You just put things in the back of the van yourself, and remove/replace them when they stop working.

Then you need to focus on the mechanics of a van, the brakes, the engine, rust.

The idea of spending £100,000 on a camping van and then driving it up narrow, windy, icy roads and parking it permanently in 3 feet of snow and ice and salt, is madness. (a bit like buying beer in ski resorts)

Get a mechanically sound small manoeuvrable van for £5,000 with good brakes and no rust. Put a bed in it. Insulate it. Get a heater, but not a permanent installation. A pee bucket. No need for a fridge/cooker/shower etc. You could spend another £5,000 on the van and have some great accessories which you remove and put in your next van.

Bear in mind a season let for a 1 bed apartment in a ski resort can cost upwards of £10,000. (before utility bills)
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Weathercam wrote:
The vans you do see are substantial, plumbing, heating, generators, solar panels, insulation etc all stuff that can and does go wrong.


The old man's T4:
Plumbing: Check
Heating: Check
Generators: No, but that's external anyway
Solar panels: No, it had hook up but no solar....although solar is pretty much something you leave to it in terms of installation/maintenance, either it works or it doesn't
Insulation: Check

Would I want to use it skiing? Not at all. Does it have plenty of kit that any other van does? Yes.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Bigtipper[/b], I'll put the "bucket" suggestion to my wife but I suspect she will stick with forking out the extra for the en-suite:



It's not just about ski trips, we spend the autumn touring in it and retirement isn't too far away.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@BoardieK[/b], your picture does not make me envious.



I expect mine will do nothing for you either!
ski holidays
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@BoardieK, Yeah that's very nice but I assume it comes with a price tag of around £120k+. That seems closer to the money you could acquire a small appartment for in reasonable distance of slopes in some places (or at least fund a decent chunk of mortgage) plus a bit for a more modest van for the autumn travels. I guess that logic doesn't hold in any way for e.g CH and futher that if depreciation is genuinely minimal it is superior to property in many respects like security while absent/taxes/communal costs.

The depreciation lite economics I find really confusing at the moment. Which means I'm finding it hard to assess upside v risk even on a more modest van.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Dave of the Marmottes, assume second hand van prices are also reflecting a huge upturn in 2nd hand car prices, so probably not a good time to buy?

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/used-car-prices-continue-surge-131424186.html
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
kitenski wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes, assume second hand van prices are also reflecting a huge upturn in 2nd hand car prices, so probably not a good time to buy?

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/used-car-prices-continue-surge-131424186.html


Yep I know that and I'm not that seriously looking but would like one medium term without taking on a major risk in terms of depn/repair. Usually that means buy good examples relatively new but after an initial big slug of deprecation has been taken but current demand curve means in many cases there is minimal depreciation. Question which no one knows is how long does that last - if asking prices are still the same in 2 years time (not least because a lot of sellers bought high or spent a lot on upgrades) then I don't gain much by waiting.
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https://www.autotrader.co.uk/van-details/202106274306086 - it's not cheap, but it is insulated, ready to roll, low mileage, high spec, but needs a table and maybe a conversion from the lounge space into a bed area unless you like single beds and a sleeping bag. Probably low mileage because bands haven't toured much lately wink
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
"If" life goes back to normal then next year could see a lot of nearly new motorhomes on the market at good prices, but I think things would have to start getting better pretty soon. We bought our current van 1 year old with 1,000 miles on the clock with a 20% saving from what the first owner paid, that could be realistic again next year.

An apartment wouldn't suit us, we enjoy touring around too much and have been doing it for long enough now to know what we like. I wish I still had the 1964 VW Devon conversion I had in the late '70s!
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@ousekjarr, the seating area already has a table and I suspect converts to a double bed
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@BoardieK, No criticism - if that's what your lifestyle looks like in pisteside/lakeside/mountain col locations you're doing better than most shoebox appts.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@ousekjarr, Looks a very smart van - but £50k for a six year old van seems way over the top to me.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@RobinS, I'm not in the market for one, but with 5K miles on the clock, that level of quality, insulated and with a loo and shower, I suspect that it will sell for very near that asking price. Yes, you could buy a newer Sprinter on the second hand market for about £15K + VAT, but they'll all have done over 100K and be dented and/or rusting, and then you'd have to spend about £25K to even come close to matching the basic spec here, plus the time to do it.
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ousekjarr wrote:
@RobinS, I'm not in the market for one, but with 5K miles on the clock, that level of quality, insulated and with a loo and shower, I suspect that it will sell for very near that asking price. Yes, you could buy a newer Sprinter on the second hand market for about £15K + VAT, but they'll all have done over 100K and be dented and/or rusting, and then you'd have to spend about £25K to even come close to matching the basic spec here, plus the time to do it.


Given my local motorhome & caravan place has some right nails at 35k+ I suspect you are right.

I was also monitoring this one out of curiosity rather than intent - it "sold" around £19k but clearly there were some shenanagins as it's now on at an increased Buy it now price. Nice build and still looks value compared to the coachbuilt from the off.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/154530279557?hash=item23fab8f085:g:EvsAAOSwthdgkuUv
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I wouldn't touch anything like that. It says it has central heating but all I can see is a cheap domestic water heater, I've no doubt that plumbing will freeze up in winter and there probably isn't much insulation plus look at the size of those single glazed windows!
Ps. And the rear axle looks way overloaded
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@BoardieK, Yeah - I wasn't interested - other than to see where bids went - too long/ not winterised enough for me but a 2.5 season camper for a family maybe? No idea about the axle but you see that's the value of your experience.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@ousekjarr, it’s around 5k and 10k less than a new custom conversion of that spec. The windows are double glazed but the cab of course isn’t. Insulation will be minimal and probably without vapour barriers; essential to stop your van rotting due to condensation when living and cooking in very cold weather. My dot conversion has 50mm insulation in floor and ceiling and 75mm in the walls plus insulated front bulkhead
ski holidays
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Dave of the Marmottes, ime depreciation depends on:
The usual… age, mileage, condition.

But also:
Van make & conversion company.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, buy a VW. They hold their value far far far better than any other.

Next look at the conversion. I have only owned two. Both Autosleeper. They are sought after, and when combined with VW, they are very very sought after.

Bought our first, a camper van, at 17yo and just about 90k on the clock. Sold it 4yrs later and over 100k on the clock for 33% more than we bought it for. Bought our second again at 17yo and 80oddk on the clock. It is also worth more than that now (another 4yrs later).

We decided on the camper to do nothing to it. To keep it as original as possible. Original is what a future buyer wants. Our present one we have just reupholstered and are going to keep on personalising it. We aim to keep it til it dies coz it is the perfect MoHo for us.

Ps. That is a lovely looking MoHo @BoardieK, plenty of daylight ingress, which can be limited in a lot of the newer models.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@BoardieK, that looks lovely, forgive me if you’ve already answered but what is it?? We keep flip flopping from getting a camper van to just doing Airbnb/renting a different place each season/doing B&B in Yorkshire as part of a retirement plan in a few years time!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@kitenski, Hymer Masterline 790 is the one we are about to order, same layout as our current Rapido but 50cm longer. I've never been particularly drawn to Hymers but this new range does it for us both and the technical aspects of the chassis are superb. Sprinter vans also get the newish Mercedes OM654 engine shortly.

I had a look at ebay this evening, I've never seen such a high proportion of camper vans to motorhomes in the 25 to 40k range, looks like you have to spend over £35000 to get a decent winterised motorhome under 10 years old but there were several with modest mileages (unlike the van conversions).
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