After quite a bit or digging around, the choice of vehicle hung between the Volkswagen Transporter T4 and the Mercedes-Benz Vito 108D. There seemed to be more conversion parts and examples around for the VW, but they were a bit more expensive that the Vito, and the latter came with sliding doors either side whereas on the VW it was an option and so hard to find on a second-hand example. Anyway, Autotrader was OK, but Gumtree came up trumps for what was needed.
A 1999 Mercedes-Benz Vito 108D on Gumtree was listed at £1500. It had 118,000miles on the clock, and the MOT and tax had expired. The owner had also failed to complete a SORN. Having looked at it the vendor was asked to reconsider his price. An hour later he’d cut the asking price by £300, by the end of the negotiation he’d agreed £900 with a 12 month MOT certificate but the vendor keeping his roof and internal racks. Done.
It did look quite tired. The edges of most doors, runners, and the bonnet were all showing a fair bit of rust; there was a massive dent in one of the doors; a rear headlight had a shooddy repair done to pass the MOT; and the bumpers were all pretty scuffed. But at that price it wasn’t for complaining about. The engine sounded like it had plenty of life in it, and there was now a base vehicle.