For the last few years I’ve been talking with friends a lot about what has become known as “#planvan”. The idea is fairly simple: I spend a lot of time on the road for photography, mountain biking, backpacking, and many other reasons and a car simply isn’t practical anymore. I wanted something where I could take bunch of kit, throw it in the back and spend a few days sleeping in and living out of the vehicle without loads of faff. A van seemed like the only sensible answer.
Pre-converted vans are crazy expensive – take the base vehicle and, depending on the quality of work, you can multiply it by anything between two and four to get a rough idea of the converted price. I could either afford a older and less reliable vehicle that was already converted to someone else’s preferences or a panel van (essentially a blank canvas) that I could convert myself into what I wanted over a long period. I chose the latter, and spent the new few months searching for the base vehicle.
After looking at a range of Toyota Proace, Mercedes-Benz Vitos, and Renault Traffics I decided to take the plunge an ended up purchasing Geoffrey – a 2010 VW T5 Transporter GP Facelift. It’s a T28 (2800kg gross weight, leaving 800kg after the 2000kg base vehicle) which gives loads of weight allowance for converting and kit, was already carpeted throughout with the bulkhead removed and two rear windows installed. That’s the big messy job, and the scary job, already complete.
Geoffrey came with air-conditioning (loads of vans don’t, it’s an expensive option from the factory, and a pain to retro-fit), full sport-line exterior, front-splitter, rear spoiler, and colour-coded bumpers. It was also specced with black 20” alloys, but I’ll probably change those for something smaller with larger tyres as they’re not massively practical for the sorts of trips I do.
The first upgrades have already gone in: a upgraded Pioneer DAB radio with CarPlay support and a reversing camera were quickly installed to help with the bumper-to-bumper parking situation at home.
At this point I’ve been using the van as-is for trips, and will probably continue to do so for the next few months before I look at insulating the vehicle ready for the winter.
Give me a wave if you see Geoffrey out on the road.