Monday 8 August 2016

My Self Built Camper Van Gone

A few weeks ago the camper van I built 10 years ago was sold. 
I built it from a an old St John's Ambulance, it only had 8000 miles on the clock and had been stored in a hanger it's whole life. Dad and I went to pick it up and the idea was already forming in my mind as we drove down there. 
Before - St John Ambulance
 I got it back and gutted it and then set about converting it into a camper with the idea to take my wife (then girlfriend) around Europe in it the following summer. 
The inside of the van to be ripped out
If people are interested I have some pictures of the conversion as well, let just say that a lot of hours went into that conversion, I'd work all day then get home and start again on the van. I was living at my parents at the time and had a little workshop there which I could park outside to get the work done. My wife made all the curtains and cushion covers as well, which we fitted on a test run down to her place. The one and only time it broke down (although I managed to fix it on the Gloucester bypass!).
Nestled in between some much bigger campers
When we left I had tested very little, I pretty much downed tools, picked up my wife and set off for France. We had only booked a ferry in and a ferry out, everything else was left up to chance!
Pitched up in France the first night - everything worked! 
Everything in the van worked as it should though, with very few teething troubles, we had running water, electric, lights and a gas cooker and a good sized sofa that turned into a double bed at night. 
The van outside Colditz castle
Easy to set up camp


Big enough for my wife to cook in! 
For the next 6 weeks we travelled over 4000 miles, camped on 19 campsites and drove across 8 countries, a year later we drive all the way to Poland as well. Everywhere we went people would stop and ask about the camper and want to look inside, I remember crossing the boarder into Germany from Poland and all the boarder guards wanted to do was look around the van and ask questions about how it was made! 

It was a great way to travel and suited our life at that point in time. Fast forward ten years, we now have a life that is far harder to pack up, with three kids, a big veg garden and more stock than you can shake a stick at, the camper was something that wasn't really going to get used anymore, my sister was last to use it a few years ago.

Better to sell it and let someone else have some adventures in it. Hopefully it'll be driving round for a long time yet! 

What do you think to the van? 

Where would you drive to?


  1. I think the van's fantastic. My husband and I had a great holiday driving around France with a tent in a Mahindra jeep (the Indian-made Willys jeep with a roof).
    I think I'd drive to Hungary. Or Poland. Or maybe get the ferry to Santander and then drive back up to the channel. Or drive to Denmark and get the ferry to Iceland via the Faroe Islands. Maybe I need to start saving and find some chicken and pet sitters!

  2. You look so young in those photos, C hasn't changed a bit, you're a lucky guy! I think you're right, you've had your fun, let someone else make some great memories in it.

  3. LOVE the van, pretty spooky, at one stage we we're planning to convert an ambulance to a camper van and tour it around Europe as a scenic route to our new place in Spain. It seems great minds think alike!

  4. I think the van is brilliant, my son started to convert a van but lost enthusiasm after lining it out and carpeting it, I think he's missed a fantastic opportunity 😡

    Can you afford to store it away for the future ... there are lots more adventures to be had once children are all grown up and doing their own things you know!!

  5. Ha ha, I'd have thought you'd have left the blue flashing light on the top! Fantastic conversion job though, yes do show us some pictures of the whole process. We have a campervan as well but it's a bought one, we love it and have been all over the UK wildcamping in it, it's not been on a campsite once in the 4 years we've had it.

  6. Oh, I would have loved to purchase that!!
    Hubby and I are getting the "Road Itchies" and would love to drive up through Canada and Alaska. What a great camper that would have made!

  7. How wonderful and such great memories. I see lots of strangely converted vehicles in my job. I had to examine inside a monster ex army water tanker that had been converted into a camper. The wheels were almost as tall as me!

  8. Wow Kev it looks fantastic! Great job. We are hoping to buy a motor home in a few years. With my knee problems flying is getting more of a problem and I have for years wanted to tour Cumbria and all over Scotland. There are so many places I want to see on this island that it would probably take a few years of month long holidays to see everything I want. And then dont forget all of the smaller islands. All around the west, north and east coast of scotland. Then I would love to go across to France and stay in all the areas we did when we were younger and in a tent at night. Good times. Very good memories.

    Got to finish the house first! Years ago someone said to me "a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money." This house feels a lot like that at present so everything is on hold.

    I showed the Mr the pictures and he said, it looks like a really good job, maybe if when you are back to being the person at home with the children, when they are big enough, maybe you should start a conversion company. With all the goings on in the world, I can believe that many people will be thinking it is better to travel around the UK especially with children.

  9. My BIL in Devon up until 2 years ago owned a firm converting and hiring out VW campers. He's been converting them for over 25 years. He had 12 vans - it got him down having to be on call for any breakdowns 24/7, etc, so he sold the business and vans for a fortune! Maybe you could've hired yours out - there seems to be a market for it.

  10. Think you could have your own niche market with the bespoke van conversions Kev. Or if you just did one a year and sold it you would make yourselves a nice wedge of money. May be you could make a bit one for when the kids get bigger and you can tour Europe again?

  11. Kev, that is SO cool. You did a great job. That's the kind of project I'd love to do, but alas I don't have the technical know how behind it, ha. Now I WOULD be one of the ones who'd buy it already set up and it would definitely go to a good home with lots of new memories, ha.

    Nice job! I'm sure it will make more people happy for many more years!

  12. The Mr. and I have owned VW Van's most of our 54 years together. Now that we're in 'snow country" our 1985 Westfalia only go's out in the spring and summer. We camped with babies, toddlers, teens and always with the dogs. Wonderful memories for all of us. Go, make more memories !

  13. The Mr. and I have owned VW Van's most of our 54 years together. Now that we're in 'snow country" our 1985 Westfalia only go's out in the spring and summer. We camped with babies, toddlers, teens and always with the dogs. Wonderful memories for all of us. Go, make more memories !

  14. My very busy daughter converts vans into campers out in Oz in her 'spare' time. She does about 4 a year, and makes quite good money!

    1. And my son has just recently started to convert his Renault Trafic.

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