Why build your own camper?

It all began with a simple plan: to buy all the materials – including the base vehicle, but excluding own time needed to do the work and build a camper van of sorts with a total budget of £2000. For that, the ‘rules’ were that it needed to be able to provide basic living and sleeping facilities for 2 people (and a pretty big dog) for at least a long weekend, and be able to cart mountain bikes, boats and kayaks, or climbing and ski gear, and ideally for most of the fittings to be removable in case you want to shift bigger kit.

Having experienced big, expensive MPVs and 4×4s in the past but found that you always have a concern in the back of your mind about damaging it or creating a big dent in your wallet on running costs and manufacturer accessories to transport gear about. There’s a limit to what you can carry in a small saloon car without having to take everything to bits, and kit strapped to racks can have a habit of walking just before you want to use it. Moreover, a lot of the activities in the great outdoors result in you ending up caked in mud or soaking at the end of the day, and the queue or changing facilities before heading back home can be just too much of a stress.

Close family friends had a van as their second vehicle which they used to head off windsurfing in. They always planned to add some home comforts, but never got around to it. After noticing a few folk at the bike tracks with van conversions looking ideal, the sad truth emerged upon googling that even a conversion of an ex-lease van might still cost well over £10k.

Just a small challenge… Looking at a few parts catalogues you can work out that the basic domestic bits for a camper don’t cost that much. As a main vehicle, you want to be sure you wouldn’t feel embarassed turning up anywhere in a van, so it needs a ‘cool’ angle. Tired-looking vans are about for not too much cash that still have life in them if you look beyond the surface, and at the end of the day if it all goes wrong the experiment won’t lose you too much cash and at worst you’d be able to sell a still shoddy ex-builders van on elsewhere. If the initial experiment is successful and then at the end of a year the vehicle would cost too much to get it through the MOT then you could just buy a similar van and transfer the bits across (and thus the transition from A-Team van to Harvebago).

The initial idea for both vans, like so many  ‘creations’, didn’t come from one place or one thing or place. You see so many things over the years that you think are good ideas, and from that you google for hours based on what you can remember and work up new ideas.

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