Which base van is  best for a camper conversion

Which base van is best for a camper conversion

Choosing a base van for you conversion can we quite daunting, but getting it right will make the world of difference, adding both usability and value to your Volkswagen campervan.

The Volkswagen Transporter has been around now in various generations for over 70 years, it has been synonymous with campervans right from start with Westfalia converting the original T2 platform from as early as 1951!

The Transporter is now on its sixth generation, with the launch of the T6 in 2015, which has subsequently been facelifted into the T6.1 which was released in the UK in late 2019.

Generally we convert T6 models onwards these days (however from a conversion perspective we can also convert T5 if required)

The general consensus for a van to convert from the Volkswagen Transporter range will be either a ‘Kombi’ (coined form the German word for combination motor vehicle) basically meaning the van has additional side windows and a removable row of seats in the rear – or a simple panel van.

Anything else from the range (i.e. Caravelle/Shuttle etc) isn’t ideal for conversions, mainly due to the additional factory options which require to be removed before the conversion can begin.

Transporters are available in various specification levels, Startline, Trendline, and Highline (Note Trendline was dropped for T6.1).

Generally for a camper conversion a Highline specification is preferable, as comes with a large array of factory equipment, for example Highline options currently included for T6.1:

• Crosswind Assist
• Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
• Brake Assist system
• Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System
• Electromechanical steering
• Composition Colour DAB+ radio system with 6.5 inch touch-screen and four loudspeakers, SD card slot, Bluetooth® hands-free and two USB interfaces (type-C) in dashboard
• Electrically adjustable and heated exterior door mirrors
• Daytime running lights
• Body-coloured exterior door mirror housings, door handles and bumpers
• Automatic headlight activation with separate daytime running lights, leaving home and manual coming home function
• Electrically foldable exterior door mirrors
• Windshield wiper intermittent control with rain sensor
• Climatic air conditioning system
• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with speed limiter including Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System*
• Anti-theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn, towing protection and SAFELOCK
• Parking sensors, front and rear

Additional Options

As you can see, Highline is pretty comprehensive – however popular and useful options for a base van destined for conversion are as follows:

• Tailgate without window, power latching.

• Single individual ‘Captains’ seats – 2x captains seats with armrests up front are considered better and more comfortable, also allowing easy rotation compared to twin seat setups.

• Tailgate with window and rear wash/wipe – preferable over individual doors.

• Electric power latching for sliding doors and tailgate – avoids having to slam doors shut (e.g. after dark on a campsite).

• 4MOTION all-wheel drive, if you plan on heading off the beaten track (e.g the Alps!) this may be of use.

• Towbar – great for bike racks etc.

• Discover Media DAB+ satellite navigation system.

There are a huge number of additional options as detailed in the brochure available for download from the VW Website, and these are often changing, but these are just a selection we think useful.

The Volkswagen Transporter t6.1 is the perfect base vehicle for camper, with the correct specification you’ll be travelling in style and comfort on your next big adventure.

Short wheelbase or long wheelbase?

This is a question we hear daily, and fundamentally the answer depends on what the van will be used for, factors such as where you live, how many people will be using it, and the duration of the usage should all be taken into account.

Whilst the difference is only 400MM, the positioning of the additional space within the vehicle does greatly benefit room inside.

If you are perhaps replacing the family car, then for daily use a SWB vehicle is easier to drive and park, (e.g. it isn't significantly longer than most saloon cars at 4.9M) and will fit in a standard sized parking space.

However if you are a family of say 4, who will be using the van for a couple of weeks at a time, and will not be using the vehicle daily then a LWB may be a better option.

Generally 60% of vans we convert are LWB (based on the last 3 years of business).

Which engine is best? Manual Vs Auto?

For the Transporter T6.1 there are 3x engine options, all 2.0L Turbo Diesel based, with outputs as follows - 110PS, 150PS and 204PS.

Generally for conversion, the 150PS is recommended, it is a great balance of performance and economy, its 340NM of torque at low RPM is perfect for use with a converted vehicle.

As far as gearbox choice, this is obviously down to personal taste, however our preference would be to opt for the DSG automatic, with its dual clutch technology and 7 gears, it allows for an effortless driving experience.

Contact us for more information about our Volkswagen Transporter camper conversions
01296 730 920
[email protected]

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