Choosing a base van for you conversion can we quite daunting, but getting it right will make the world of difference, adding both usability and value to your Volkswagen campervan.
The Volkswagen Transporter has been around now in various generations for over 70 years, it has been synonymous with campervans right from start with Westfalia converting the original T2 platform from as early as 1951!
The Transporter is now on its sixth generation, with the launch of the T6 in 2015, which has subsequently been facelifted into the T6.1 which was released in the UK in late 2019.
Generally we convert T6 models onwards these days (however from a conversion perspective we can also convert T5 if required)
The general consensus for a van to convert from the Volkswagen Transporter range will be either a ‘Kombi’ (coined form the German word for combination motor vehicle) basically meaning the van has additional side windows and a removable row of seats in the rear – or a simple panel van.
Anything else from the range (i.e. Caravelle/Shuttle etc) isn’t ideal for conversions, mainly due to the additional factory options which require to be removed before the conversion can begin.
Transporters are available in various specification levels, Startline, Trendline, and Highline (Note Trendline was dropped for T6.1).
Generally for a camper conversion a Highline specification is preferable, as comes with a large array of factory equipment, for example Highline options currently included for T6.1:
• Crosswind Assist
• Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
• Brake Assist system
• Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System
• Electromechanical steering
• Composition Colour DAB+ radio system with 6.5 inch touch-screen and four loudspeakers, SD card slot, Bluetooth® hands-free and two USB interfaces (type-C) in dashboard
• Electrically adjustable and heated exterior door mirrors
• Daytime running lights
• Body-coloured exterior door mirror housings, door handles and bumpers
• Automatic headlight activation with separate daytime running lights, leaving home and manual coming home function
• Electrically foldable exterior door mirrors
• Windshield wiper intermittent control with rain sensor
• Climatic air conditioning system
• Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with speed limiter including Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System*
• Anti-theft alarm system with interior monitoring in cab, backup horn, towing protection and SAFELOCK
• Parking sensors, front and rear
As you can see, Highline is pretty comprehensive – however popular and useful options for a base van destined for conversion are as follows:
• Tailgate without window, power latching.
• Single individual ‘Captains’ seats – 2x captains seats with armrests up front are considered better and more comfortable, also allowing easy rotation compared to twin seat setups.
• Tailgate with window and rear wash/wipe – preferable over individual doors.
• Electric power latching for sliding doors and tailgate – avoids having to slam doors shut (e.g. after dark on a campsite).
• 4MOTION all-wheel drive, if you plan on heading off the beaten track (e.g the Alps!) this may be of use.
• Towbar – great for bike racks etc.
• Discover Media DAB+ satellite navigation system.
There are a huge number of additional options as detailed in the brochure available for download from the VW Website, and these are often changing, but these are just a selection we think useful.