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Looking for My First Campervan

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    Looking for My First Campervan

    As some of you may have read in my first posting, I am new to the site but I was concerned about having enough leg room. However, that is not my main concern now. My main concern now is how to find a campervan. In the last week I have traveled over 400 miles and all I found at the end of my travels was a pile of junk. Not unroadworthy vehicles, but having serious faults with them that could result in costing me an arm and a leg to put right.

    I don't want to spend all my time and money driving from one end of the country to the other. So how does one go about finding a decent campervan? When you look at the adverts they look great, but when you see them they are far from great.

    I don't think there is a solution to that particular dilemma unfortunately. It's no different to buying a second hand car, you either wait until a suitable vehicle comes up for sale locally or you travel to see vehicles further afield, forearmed with the knowledge that they may not be as good as they appear in the photos.

    There are of course checks you can do from home, it's a simple matter to check the MOT history online which verifies the mileage and gives an indication as to what problems the vehicle may have or previously had. Other than that all you can do is ask the vendor lots and lots of questions, perhaps even ask for extra photos etc.

    I think the best advice with any secondhand purchase is don't be in a rush, the right vehicle will come along eventually.

    Good luck
    Better a rainy day on the hill than a sunny day in the office!


      Hello TonyK

      If you make a list of your requirements (must haves, could live with etc) then look at all the vans in the for sale section you might get an idea of what is available through this site.

      Even if the vans on sale here are too far away for you to travel to it might point you in the direction of a particular van that you could search for more locally
      Last edited by SandraM; 04-03-2019, 07:57.


        The vans for sale have recently been added to, there is a nice selection of small motor homes here there might be something to suit near you
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          Tony, a good starting place is always get the reg number from the seller - then go to the government website and check out the vehicle's MoT history - including advisories it helps to build a picture.

          If the selle will not give you the reg number then assume they have something to hide - I am even suspicious if the advert includes photographs with blanked out reg numbers, although I am aware some people think it is good security preventing cloning - silly if I want to clone a vehicle I could get a number by visiting our local supermarket!
          Apart from that there is little I can add to what others have written.
          Be realistic bearing in mind your budget.


            ................ and don't be afraid to ask the seller for more details of specific things you want to know and additional photos of views not shown in the advert.

            You may well have to travel some miles to view a likely candidate but you must be ready for disappointments and must always be prepared to walk away... at whatever the cost.

            It's out there somewhere - you just have to keep looking


              Agree with all above. I am impressed by the Dragonville site linked to from this forum. Lots of useful photos show the good bits and the not so good. Very honest I think.
              We spent a year looking for the right van. You may well find that after using whatever you chose for a while you form a new set of priorities for a van better suited to your camping style.


                I had no idea you could check a vehicles MOT history until you told me. It could have saved me a lot of milage had I done such a check on the vans I went to look at so far.

                Having checked the MOT history of those I have been to see, I can see some of them had serious advisories on earlier MOTs but then all of a sudden a clean bill of health on the most recent, yet when I inspected them I saw evidence that the advisories had not been put right.

                Sadly, and I know this from past experience that there are still garages where you can get a clean bill of health regardless of its condition for the right price.

                As for waiting for a van to eventually be advertised locally. I have been looking at the idea of getting a van ever since my last wet trip to Scotland in 2013, but only seriously searching for one for about a year. I have seen many vans advertised locally, in fact there is place only 9 miles away that sell lots of vans that could be converted to a camper, ex force vehicles in immaculate condition. But in the small print it says excluding VAT which when that is added puts them well above my budget of £6000 to £7000.

                There are some that have been advertised by local brokers and just not selling for some reason. I would have purchased one had I not seen that the drivers side front wing was being held on with pop rivets.

                Yes you have already told me about having vans for sale on this site, and I am looking at them everyday. But so far they are either too far away or beyond my budget.


                  With reference to Jon and the subject of cloning... those who do this look foe an exact match. i.e same make, model and colour.

                  Yours is unique and stands out, but home many diahtsu pickup do you see in super markets.

                  I have only ever seen a few other Suzuki carry pickup's on the road, so there is not much chance thieves would spot one too

                  They would op for the lazy approach a look through the Classified Ad'd

                  Years ago i bought an 4 door Escort 1300E in Purple and in the two years i had it only ever saw 11 others on the road (the market was flooded the year before the 4 door was launched with the 2 door model ) so again these were not easily spotted around, so the thieves would have looked through those advertised.

                  Campers are the same, yes as an owner we tend to spot them around but thieves are lazy and would take the lazy option

                  If a genuine buyer asked for the registration i give it out to them but i wont put it on ebay for the world to see !


                    I will reiterate Kernowjon's comment, be realistic about what is available within your budget. campers hold their value and since they cost a lot to start with low budget ones will always have problems.

                    I hope the one that you find is the exception.



                      Yes Peter, I do not expect to find a perfect camper van on my budget which is why I am looking at older vans. But I do expect it to be in good enough condition to be used, not to sit in my drive waiting while I save up enough money to fix things that are wrong with it. Some of the old vans I have looked at needed another thousand or two spent on them. Like I have already mentioned, the last van I looked at had a list of expensive advisories on one of the MOTs but no receipts for them being repaired.

                      Anyway, I am putting an hold on looking for a van for now. I have plans on going on another camping trip to north Wales this summer and need the time to make plans for where to go, and to get my car and camping gear ready for the trip. My camping gear has not been used for over 6 years, so I need a few dry days to put the tent up in the garden to make sure its still in good condition.


                        A number of times you've mentioned "I" and not "We", which seems to suggest you might be a solo traveller?

                        Possibly happy to manage with less fitted accessories?

                        Concerned about the base vehicle condition?

                        Have you considered putting all your money into a "newer" van and equipping it with your own bits and bobs?

                        Last year I bought a 63 plate Berlingo MPV for £6500 - very good condition.

                        OK, it's small but it's adaptable at a low cost and with a couple of compromises enables me to enjoy a "campervan" hobby, in a reliable vehicle, at an affordable cost, parked in any car park bay and, within 15 minutes, can be returned to a comfortable 5 seater car.

                        Just a thought.


                          As tonyt says, if you are a solo traveller a small van is very practical. The van we found after a year searching was a conversion of a 1999 Peugeot Expert (13 years old when bought by us) less than 50k miles and only 4.5 metres long but a bit wider than the smallest vans. Ours was nicely fitted out as a camper with a rising roof that allowed standing when raised. We did have some age related problems of the sort you could expect but in most respects it was a good usable van. There are some photos here:

                          We sold it because having to turn the four travelling seats into two berths was too much for us as we like to move on daily. Other users would have happily put up with that especially if they spent longer spells on camp sites.

                          The standard van, also available as a Fiat Scudo and Citroen Dispatch, is just that bit bigger than the Berlingo and if travelling alone the passenger seat could be removed to allow a single berth on the nearside and plenty of room left for fitting out to suit your wishes. These vans were also available in MPV form with windows. The Series 1 van had a higher roof than the MPV equivalent but still less than 2m high so would pass under many car park barriers. Series 2 vans and MPVs come in two lengths.

                          Ours was mainly rust free despite its age but newer vans are protected with zinc at least in the most critical areas. Renault with Vauxhall etc clones lead this advance followed by the Sevel vans made by the Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen joint venture. Mercedes followed later.
                          High mileage is not always a problem if it runs well and the bodywork, trim etc is sound.


                            Body condition is much more important on older pre electronic vehicles. Mechanical bits can always be replaced but once rust starts you are chasing it forever. High mileage vehicles tend to be in better mechanical condition (at least engine and transmission wise) than the equivalent low mileage that will attract a premium. Service history is no guarantee either. Inspection by a trusted mechanic is essential as a reserve fund as whenever a vehicle changes hands faults occur.



                              Dont know if you have considered a de-mountable.. That way at least the base vehicle can be changed


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