Meet Victor, my van.
Obtaining this vehicle was the biggest step in getting my journey underway –and quite a stressful step too! Knowing very little about vans, buying this one in a commercial vehicle auction in January 2016 was quite an experience.
Victor started life as a plain ply-lined, panel van. A long wheel base VW T5.1, it was just what I was looking for to use as the base for my bespoke conversion. The van itself is a 2012 180bhp, DSG, 4motion, 2,000 diesel, bought with just over 80,000 miles on the clock. In gunmetal grey, it has two sliding doors and a tailgate.
Once I’d got the van, then came the task of finding someone who could convert it to my needs. Because of my sport – and the desire to take both a TT bike and a road bike on my trip with me – I wanted the ability to travel and live with two bikes on the inside of the van. The LWB chassis was vital for this.
Once I started delving into the internet it soon became apparent to me that there is a whole VW camper world out there that I never knew about! The options for conversion were endless and after a few months of fretting over it, I finally decided that a rear lounge layout would be best for my needs, incorporating living space with a place for the bikes, which would easily convert to useful accommodation should the bikes not be with me at any point in the future.
Numerous quotes and visits to van places under my belt, I opted to go with West Country Conversions in Exmouth for the job and when the time came drove the van down there with two bikes in the back with my pal Jane. A few final measurements of the bikes, and having chosen my monochrome colour scheme Jane and I cycled off into the sunset* leaving the van with Ian and his team to design a final layout that would fit my needs.
The end result is better than I could have hoped for. The windows and Reimo roof transform the van, and the internal layout offers all the space and storage I need with the vital secure transport of my bikes. A 50L fridge, double gas hob and sink make the cooking facilities luxurious (when you’re used to a Trangia and spork this is luxurious) and the bench seating is social and comfortable.
Having sleeping options is useful too – either in the roof or, on days when that is unpalatable, I can sleep on the near-side bench which is plenty wide enough for me. Once the blinds are shut and the diesel heating is going, Victor makes a very cosy space indeed!
*it was sunny, at least to start with. But more than that, it was hilly…who knew Sidmouth had such hills, or indeed that King Arthur’s Tower was at the top of such a renown climb?
Here is a link to the VW Bus magazine feature on Victor: vw-bus-feature-on-victor