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Campervan advice please?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring
25 replies 2.2K views
FlobberchopsFlobberchops Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring
Afternoon all, the situation is that I'm getting dangerously close to fulfilling a midlife crisis goal of buying a VW camper for road trips, weekends away, and a bit of glamping.

I'm a driver of over 15 years but not been an owner of any kind of vehicle for the last 10, so I'm horribly out of touch with current tax, insurance, vehicle and maintenance costs.

From my research I believe a van is Road Tax exempt if built before 1978?

I'm at an early stage of deciding on a purchase so I'd welcome any and all knowledge and feedback. What kind of price should I be looking to pay (I've seen everything from £5000 to £30000 online), and if anybody could give an indication of insurance and fuel costs, or any other things to be aware of, that would be fantastic.

6469120-rare-classic-vw-camper-van-to-go-under-the-hammer-1.jpg


The above pic is the kind of thing I'm interested in - the blocky, "Scooby Doo Dream Machine" style is less appealing.
I work for a UK bank, but any comments made on this forum are solely my personal opinion. Caveat Emptor!
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Replies

  • daveyjpdaveyjp Forumite
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    Spend a few hours reading the dedicated VW forums and see if it still appeals.
  • MovingForwardsMovingForwards Forumite
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    Classic insurance is pretty cheap, especially if it's a second vehicle.

    When I had a new beetle and a classic I was paying under £100 for the classic per year and no tax because of the age. When I had the classic as a single vehicle it was about £120 for the insurance.

    Yes, classic cars/vans are tax exempt, but you still have to 'buy' it for £0.00 each year.

    I won't go into vehicles being MOT exempt as I don't think that is a road you are up to travelling down.

    With a campervan you would want an agreed valuation with your classic insurance company, which means they will agree a value of it and will pay that figure out if anything happens to it.

    You have to be careful where the previous owner has put the fuel filter, if it's in the engine bay your van is at risk of going up in flames.

    As the engine is in the back there is a very limited size exhaust, which means you have to enjoy the engine sound or don't bother buying one.

    There also isn't as much sound deadening as there are in modern cars, again you will need to accept that.

    They are very basic, the heaters if it's the original one, can be good, but many people change them.

    With an air cooled you need to stay on top of regular maintenance, moving the shimmies for the belt as the timing can go out, the engine runs lumpy and petrol consumption goes through the roof, plus it's at risk of cutting out. They are fairly easy to maintain, if you are able to do it yourself, failing which you will need to have a lot of money in the bank as a good VW garage doesn't come cheap.

    It used to cost me £25 to fill up my 1300 cc beetle, I would get 300ish miles out of her on a motorway run.

    Don't expect to drive at 70mph on the motorway, I was advised to stick to 55, I have done 70 in her, but needed balls of steel especially in windy weather or being overtaken, the car gets sucked across the lane towards lorries as they drive by.
    It's recommended lower speeds to help maintain the life of the engine.
    My beetle was a 4 speed box and I really missed 5th when going over 40mph!

    £5k will buy you something that needs complete restoration, £30k would buy you one that's been restored. But they hold their money.

    I would strongly urge you to join a few clubs, even on Facebook, as the members will give you loads of help and information.

    If you say whereabouts you are in the UK I may be able to point you in the right direction of suitable clubs.
  • iolanthe07iolanthe07 Forumite
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    You will find a split screen VW camper, as in your photograph, in decent condition, hideously expensive. Even the later VW camper vans go for serious money if they are in good condition. You may be better looking at some Japanese imports, such as the Mazda Bongo.
    I used to think that good grammar is important, but now I know that good wine is importanter.
  • ididntgetwhereiamtodayididntgetwhereiamtoday Forumite
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    iolanthe07 wrote: »
    You will find a split screen VW camper, as in your photograph, in decent condition, hideously expensive. Even the later VW camper vans go for serious money if they are in good condition. You may be better looking at some Japanese imports, such as the Mazda Bongo.
    yes, a decent jap import can be had for around 10k. Loads of specialists about.
    I didn't get where i am today by not reading moneysavingexpert.com
  • edited 20 June 2019 at 4:17PM
    AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    edited 20 June 2019 at 4:17PM
    I'm a driver of over 15 years but not been an owner of any kind of vehicle for the last 10, so I'm horribly out of touch with current tax, insurance, vehicle and maintenance costs.
    Classic insurance is cheap compared to "normal", maintenance is much more onerous than normal - and that's before you get into any restoration. A classic policy won't be much over a hundred quid a year.
    From my research I believe a van is Road Tax exempt if built before 1978?
    Rolling 40yrs - so currently pre-79. As of next year, pre-80, etc.
    Also MOT exemption for basically standard vehicles over 40yo. Which does NOT mean you can skimp on maintenance... As a rule of thumb, if it won't pass an MOT, it shouldn't be on the road, whether it needs an MOT or not...
    What kind of price should I be looking to pay (I've seen everything from £5000 to £30000 online)
    ...
    6469120-rare-classic-vw-camper-van-to-go-under-the-hammer-1.jpg

    The above pic is the kind of thing I'm interested in - the blocky, "Scooby Doo Dream Machine" style is less appealing.
    Oooookay.
    That's a Split-screen. They are ruinously expensive. 1950-67

    Then there was the Bay Window. They're merely extortionate. 1967-79
    volkswagen-combi-vw-camper-bay-window-t2-low-mileage-devon-moonraker-4-berth_6487613852.jpg

    They're both basically Beetles.

    The "Scooby Doo" is, I think, the T3...
    yellow-vwt25westy80.jpg
    By VW camper standards, they're fairly sensibly priced... They're also a lot bigger inside than the Split and Bay.

    Petrol engines were basically Beetles, in most cases wearing a wetsuit to make them water-cooled. Golf or Subaru petrol engines often get put in when the waterboxer inevitably fails. Diesels were more normal, but way underpowered unless they've been upgraded with a more modern engine. A diesel will do 40mpg, but the petrols are low 20s at best.

    Then VW had a rush of blood to the head, got all sensible, and moved the engine to the end where it should be for the T4...
    vw_transporter_t4_holdsworth_villa.jpg
    Smaller inside than a T3, unless you go for the long wheelbase. Along with the newer versions, they're popular with the surf crowd.

    They all rust. They're all old enough to have all sorts of mechanical shenanigans. They can all be stupidly expensive for what they are, thanks to the VW badge scene tax.
  • jimbo6977jimbo6977 Forumite
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    money pit ahoy!
  • BegseyBegsey Forumite
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    Any good with spanners etc? If not, good breakdown cover essential.
    Even after an expensive restoration, a friend has needed some sort of assistance most times out.
    About the only thing not changed now is the nut behind the steering wheel.
  • jk0jk0 Forumite
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    I don't think I would be buying a 1970's vehicle just to save road tax. For the same money you could get a nearly new modern camper van with modern engine, brakes, safety, insulation, equipment...


    What's not to like? :)
  • MercdriverMercdriver Forumite
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    You can still buy these new. VW still make them.
  • Richard53Richard53 Forumite
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    I had a bay window camper for a couple of years and did one long tour of France in it. I sold it and wouldn't have another. They are fun and charming, but the downsides are many. You need to be really good friends with whoever you go with as there isn't much room inside. Unless you are a contortionist, you have to get up and dressed and put the beds away before you can have a morning coffee - a serious drawback for me. They are noisy. They are horrendously fond of unleaded - I had a recon engine fitted to mine as the original was worn out, and even then it only did about 20 mpg driven sympathetically. The original seats are awful ( it was conceived as a door-to-door van, after all). It rusted faster than any other vehicle I have owned. I sold it while it was still running and before it dissolved in the rain. I bought and sold at reasonable prices (mid-90s), but the prices today are comically high.

    And yet, we still talk fondly about our trip in the 'camper'. They do have a certain something. Perhaps you have to have one and get it out of your system.
    If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person.
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