Best Small Van to Convert to a Campervan


The best small van to convert to a touring caravan is in part determined by your goals and how you will use the campervan. For the most part the Vauxhall Combo and Ford Transit Connect are the two best options that can be converted successfully to fit the greatest number of interior arrangements.

An important element of any self build campervan s making sure that you follow any instructions that the insurance company stipulate. If you fail todo so you may be left with a campervan that no one will insure. Check out the requirements with reputable brokers such as caravan club  insurance or Towergate caravan insurance.

What should be considered when choosing the right small van for your conversion project?

  • Fuel mileage.
  • Overall length and width of the van.
  • Payload capacity of the van.
  • Access to the cargo area, do you want side, rear entry or both?
  • Know the main reason for the conversion , sleeping, traveling, leisure or commuting.

What are the options for the layout of the cargo area?

Because this being a small van no more than berthing for 2 should be considered. Next you need to decide if any cooking options and cold storage are to be incorporated into the conversion. This will be determined in part by the available space. 

Vauxhall Combo

  • Load length of 1.8 m or 5.9 feet, width of 1.3 m or 4.2 feet and height of 1.2 m or 3.9 feet.

Ford Transit Connect

Short wheel base

  • ​Load length of 1.8 m or 5.9 feet, width of 1.5 m or 4.9 feet and height of 1.3 m or 4.2 feet.

Long wheel base

  • ​Load length of 2.2 m or 7.2 feet, width of 1.5 m or 4.9 feet and height of 1.3 m or 4.2 feet.

With this information you can decide what can be incorporated into the back area. Remember berths which can be converted to couch, tables, counters, insulation, ventilation, sink, storage, lights, electrical sockets, fridge or ice box and speakers are generally in this area.

What type of fuel mileage doe these small vans offer?

Vauxhall Combo has 2 main drive train options. The 1.2 L petrol engine can get up to 51.4 mpg. The 1.5 L turbo diesel can get up to 67.3 mpg. Engine options and type of transmission make the numbers slightly vary.

Ford Transit Connect has 2 main drive train options. The 1.0 L EcoBoost petrol engine can get up to 50.4 mpg. The 1.5 L diesel engine can get up to 68.9 mpg. Engine options and type of transmission make the number slightly vary.

What options to the body can be used to make more room?

The only option for more room is to get a higher ceiling by installing a popup roof. There are many types available as aftermarket options. Because of the popularity of the Ford Transit Connect, there are more available manufacturers of pop up for that model. 

There are two variations. The back pop up where the front of it is hinged on the roof of the van along with the other up and the total pop up where both ends are extended up.  The tops are made of fiberglass and the side canvass.

With the extended roof you can make it additional berthing area or as extra head room so you can walk around the campervan.

In Conclusion

The best small van to convert to a campervan is determined by what you want, how you plan to use it and your budget. The Vauxhall Combo and  Ford Transit Connect are comparable in price for both new and used versions.

The Ford Transit Connect is wider and longer than the Vauxhall Combo, but not by much. If buying new pick the one you fell will be more dependable. If a used small van is your option then pick the best deal.

After drawing out your pan for the back make the components out of Styrofoam or other light and cheap material to see if your plan feasible and comfortable for you before you begin.  

About the Author Eamonn Turley

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