Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@. Skimlinks & other affiliated links are turned on

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • Flobberchops
    • By Flobberchops 20th Jun 19, 1:22 PM
    • 1,051Posts
    • 954Thanks
    Flobberchops
    Campervan advice please?
    • #1
    • 20th Jun 19, 1:22 PM
    Campervan advice please? 20th Jun 19 at 1:22 PM
    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.




    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!
Page 1
    • daveyjp
    • By daveyjp 20th Jun 19, 1:43 PM
    • 8,138 Posts
    • 6,728 Thanks
    daveyjp
    • #2
    • 20th Jun 19, 1:43 PM
    • #2
    • 20th Jun 19, 1:43 PM
    Spend a few hours reading the dedicated VW forums and see if it still appeals.
    • MovingForwards
    • By MovingForwards 20th Jun 19, 1:56 PM
    • 1,530 Posts
    • 1,806 Thanks
    MovingForwards
    • #3
    • 20th Jun 19, 1:56 PM
    • #3
    • 20th Jun 19, 1:56 PM
    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.
    • iolanthe07
    • By iolanthe07 20th Jun 19, 2:18 PM
    • 5,197 Posts
    • 4,900 Thanks
    iolanthe07
    • #4
    • 20th Jun 19, 2:18 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Jun 19, 2:18 PM
    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.
    • ididntgetwhereiamtoday
    • By ididntgetwhereiamtoday 20th Jun 19, 3:11 PM
    • 1,306 Posts
    • 1,010 Thanks
    ididntgetwhereiamtoday
    • #5
    • 20th Jun 19, 3:11 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Jun 19, 3:11 PM
    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.
    Originally posted by iolanthe07
    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
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 20th Jun 19, 3:15 PM
    • 23,351 Posts
    • 22,323 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #6
    • 20th Jun 19, 3:15 PM
    • #6
    • 20th Jun 19, 3:15 PM
    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.
    Originally posted by Flobberchops
    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)
    ...


    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


    They're both basically Beetles.

    The "Scooby Doo" is, I think, the T3...

    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...

    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.
    Last edited by AdrianC; 20-06-2019 at 3:17 PM.
    • jimbo6977
    • By jimbo6977 20th Jun 19, 7:58 PM
    • 224 Posts
    • 120 Thanks
    jimbo6977
    • #7
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:58 PM
    • #7
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:58 PM
    money pit ahoy!
    • Begsey
    • By Begsey 20th Jun 19, 8:27 PM
    • 114 Posts
    • 60 Thanks
    Begsey
    • #8
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:27 PM
    • #8
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:27 PM
    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.
    • jk0
    • By jk0 20th Jun 19, 9:32 PM
    • 3,033 Posts
    • 26,547 Thanks
    jk0
    • #9
    • 20th Jun 19, 9:32 PM
    • #9
    • 20th Jun 19, 9:32 PM
    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?
    • Mercdriver
    • By Mercdriver 20th Jun 19, 10:01 PM
    • 2,665 Posts
    • 1,814 Thanks
    Mercdriver
    You can still buy these new. VW still make them.
    • Richard53
    • By Richard53 20th Jun 19, 10:09 PM
    • 2,921 Posts
    • 2,418 Thanks
    Richard53
    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.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 21st Jun 19, 6:50 AM
    • 23,351 Posts
    • 22,323 Thanks
    AdrianC
    You can still buy these new. VW still make them.
    Originally posted by Mercdriver
    Bays? No, they stopped in Brazil a few years ago.
    • Gloomendoom
    • By Gloomendoom 21st Jun 19, 7:44 AM
    • 15,967 Posts
    • 22,340 Thanks
    Gloomendoom
    I borrowed one of these things back in the early 1980s. It put me off owning one for life. Horrible to drive, extremely slow and incredibly thirsty. I got 15-20 miles to the gallon.
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” - Mark Twain
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 21st Jun 19, 7:52 AM
    • 23,351 Posts
    • 22,323 Thanks
    AdrianC
    So one thing I didn't mention up there... We own a T3, a high-top Westfalia with the 2.1 petrol waterboxer. We lived in it for a year and a half, 20 countries and about 30,000 miles. It's been off the road for 6yrs now, but I'm getting it back on the road at the mo.

    In all that time, what was the ONE and only thing we'd have changed? Thicker curtains. Seriously.

    In many ways, it is the ideal package - it's small enough to park in a normal car space, it's big enough to have proper interior living space. Bays and T4s are too small inside. LWB T4s are too long to park - you trade the loss of underbed storage space for unusable length.

    Parts are easily and widely available - when you've had to buy a wheel in Albania and get a water pump in Czech, these things are important.

    ANY camper of any type below about five grand is going to be an unpleasant place to spend time, and is going to be more hassle than use. With that in mind, the lower end of T3 prices aren't actually ridiculous, scene-tax notwithstanding.

    And, of course, if you don't know one end of a spanner from the other, owning any 20+yo vehicle is going to be a very expensive experience.
    • caprikid1
    • By caprikid1 21st Jun 19, 8:26 AM
    • 780 Posts
    • 768 Thanks
    caprikid1
    I would say find a dealer who has a range of campers and go and have a look and a drive.


    I drove a Type 2 in the mid 80's and use to maintain one for a friend, rust is the killer as with all cars.


    But they are awful to drive , hideously slow and heavy on fuel. They use a beetle engine that is best part of 70 years old now.


    You are buying into a lifestyle, an image a scene, if you want a camper van look else where. My GF sold a split screen van shortly before we met , which I am slightly gutted about. Would I go an buy one maybe , but I do own 5 other classics.


    Don't rule out the late Mexican buses , I believe these had watercooled engines etc. If you want an "Old" style bus then I truly suggest you budget c£20K bodywork is not cheap and most have been bodged many times. Ideally one with a photographic restoration showing the panels being cut out not just metal and filler. Ideally something that was restored more than 3-4 years ago so you have an idea if it is standing the test of time.


    Personally but a nice classic a tent and cooker.
    • alan_d
    • By alan_d 21st Jun 19, 8:45 AM
    • 195 Posts
    • 147 Thanks
    alan_d
    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.
    Originally posted by Flobberchops
    Remember these were designed / built before the concept of NCAP crash safety ratings.
    You would NOT want to be in an accident in one, there isn't much between your legs and the (minimal) front panel.
    The T4 and later are MUCH better in every respect - safety, driving experience, reliability, practicability etc.
    • jaybeetoo
    • By jaybeetoo 21st Jun 19, 10:28 AM
    • 888 Posts
    • 458 Thanks
    jaybeetoo
    I recommend you try renting some different ones before thinking of buying one.
    • Jackmydad
    • By Jackmydad 21st Jun 19, 11:08 AM
    • 6,372 Posts
    • 20,580 Thanks
    Jackmydad
    As others have said, if you're going to have something that's an older style of vehicle, be prepared to either do your own maintenance or have deep pockets.
    They all have the proclivity to turn into absolute horrors unless you really do keep on top of everything that goes wrong, leaks, or breaks.
    I like old vehicles but they're as much of a hobby as a form of transport.
    You can forget about "use it and ignore it" that you get with modern vehicles.
    • Scrapit
    • By Scrapit 21st Jun 19, 4:03 PM
    • 582 Posts
    • 210 Thanks
    Scrapit
    Try one on air bnb or similar before committing. Sounds a nightmare that could be resolved by getting a better modern version for similar money.
    • walwyn1978
    • By walwyn1978 21st Jun 19, 7:42 PM
    • 626 Posts
    • 605 Thanks
    walwyn1978
    So one thing I didn't mention up there... We own a T3, a high-top Westfalia with the 2.1 petrol waterboxer. We lived in it for a year and a half, 20 countries and about 30,000 miles. It's been off the road for 6yrs now, but I'm getting it back on the road at the mo.

    In all that time, what was the ONE and only thing we'd have changed? Thicker curtains. Seriously.

    In many ways, it is the ideal package - it's small enough to park in a normal car space, it's big enough to have proper interior living space. Bays and T4s are too small inside. LWB T4s are too long to park - you trade the loss of underbed storage space for unusable length.

    Parts are easily and widely available - when you've had to buy a wheel in Albania and get a water pump in Czech, these things are important.

    ANY camper of any type below about five grand is going to be an unpleasant place to spend time, and is going to be more hassle than use. With that in mind, the lower end of T3 prices aren't actually ridiculous, scene-tax notwithstanding.

    And, of course, if you don't know one end of a spanner from the other, owning any 20+yo vehicle is going to be a very expensive experience.
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    We’ve rented a T1, a T2 and a T3 at various times. The T3 was the biggest inside, the easiest to ‘camp’ with and the easiest to drive by some distance. It obviously doesn’t have the look of the first two, and you won’t get the admiring glances from other drivers, but both the T1 (a weekend driving the bride and groom at a wedding and then camping ) and the T2 (a week camping) we had were woefully underpowered and thirsty. The T3 was the closest to ‘modern’ driving we found, with all the issues rightly mentioned by Adrian C.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

3,790Posts Today

5,444Users online

Martin's Twitter