The best vans for a camper conversion

Nate Murphy

If you feel overwhelmed choosing which van to buy for your conversion, you aren’t alone. In fact, most people converting a van into a camper have never bought a van before! And before you start van shopping, there are a few things to consider. You'll want to decide how many people you will carry and how often you plan to use your van. So, if you are wondering which van is best for conversion to a camper, then this guide will give you all the details you need to make your choice. 

Some things to look out for when choosing a used van

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Age of the van
  • Is there any rust?
  • Mileage
  • Service history
  • Are there windows already fitted?

The best small vans to convert

Peugeot Expert

Interior dimensions 

L1L2Length2254mm / 88.7”2584mm / 101.7”Width1600 / 63”1600 / 63”Height1449mm / 57”1449mm / 57”

Pros

  • Feels almost like a car to drive.
  • Available in different lengths.
  • Widely available at a low price.

Cons

  • The cab is small and could feel cramped on long journeys.
  • The longer wheelbase van doesn’t have a higher roof.

Citroen Berlingo / Peugeot Partner

Interior Dimensions

SWBLWBLength1817mm / 71.5”2167mm / 85.3”Width1550mm / 59”1550mm / 59”Height1200mm / 47.2”1270mm / 50”

Pros

  • A reliable van that’s easy to drive.
  • It's a small van that is inexpensive to run.
  • Looks like a work van, so you'll find that it can be a stealthy camper.

Cons

  • These vans are prone to electrical problems.
  • The internal roof height is low, meaning you can’t stand up inside.

Chevrolet G20

Interior Dimensions

StandardLongExtendedLength2392mm / 94.2”2997mm / 118”3675mm / 144.7”Width1798mm / 70.8”1798mm / 70.8”1798mm / 70.8”Height1137mm / 44.8”1137mm / 44.8”1137mm / 44.8”

Pros

  • It looks and feels like a car which is great if you want to be stealthy.
  • Chevys are widely available and can usually be bought on a low budget.
  • Spare parts are easy to come by if you need to make repairs on the road.
  • There are lots of windows already installed, which will save on conversion costs.

Cons

  • The roof height on all models is low, meaning you won’t be able to stand up.
  • The interior space could feel small and cramped.
  • Before you begin the conversion, the back passenger seats will need to be removed from the vehicle.

Ford Transit Connect

Interior Dimensions

L1L2 Length1831mm / 72”2231mm / 87.8”Width1543mm / 60.7”1496mm / 58.9”Height1269mm / 49.9”1269mm / 49.9”

Pros

  • These vans are widely available and can be purchased for a low cost.
  • Gives the appearance of a work van from the outside, so they are perfect as a stealth camper conversion.
  • The small size makes them easy to drive around, and no stress to park. 

Cons

  • The longer version has a slightly narrower width than in the other versions.
  • Again, the low internal height means that you can’t stand up inside.

The best medium vans to convert

Mercedes Vito

Interior Dimensions

L1L2L3Length2568mm / 101.1”2831mm /111.5”3061mm / 120.5”Width1685mm / 66.3”1685mm / 66.3”1685mm / 66.3”Height1391mm / 54.8”1391mm /  54.8”1391mm /  54.8”

Pros

  • Mercedes is a trusted manufacturer with long lasting engines.
  • It’s easy to drive around and feels like driving a car. 
  • The interior width is generous for a small van.

Cons

  • The Vito has a higher price tag than other small vans do.
  • There is no built in bulkhead storage as standard.

H3 Volkswagen T5

Interior Dimensions

L1L2 H1L2 H2Length2572mm / 2975mm2975mmWidth1700mm / 1700mm1700mmHeight1410mm / 1410mm1940mm

Pros

  • The classic and stylish design makes it the most popular type of campervan.
  • VW is a trusted manufacturer.
  • You can expect a high resale value if you want to sell it in the future.
  • The H2 version offers more headroom than most other small vans.

Cons

  • Buying one normally comes with a higher price tag.
  • The low roof on the H1 model means you can’t stand up inside.

Ford Transit Custom

Interior Dimensions

L1 H1L2 H2L2 H1L2 H2Length2555mm / 100.5”2555mm / 100.5”2922mm / 115”2922mm / 115”Width1775mm / 69.8”1775mm / 69.8”1775mm / 69.8”1775mm / 69.8”Height1406mm / 55.4”1778mm / 70”1406mm / 55.4”1778mm / 70”

Pros

  • The wide interior means that you can be more creative with the layout.
  • It is available in various length and height options, so that you can find the exact size for your needs.
  • It’s small and easy enough to park in cities.
  • If you want a higher roof, a pop top is available to add to your conversion. 

Cons

  • There is no 4WD version of the Transit Custom available, so it’s not the best choice if you want to go off-road regularly.
  • It has a low MPG compared to other similar vans, so you may spend more on fuel. 

The best large vans to convert

Mercedes sprinter

Interior Dimensions

L1 H1L2 H2L3 H2L4 H3Length2600mm / 102”3265mm / 128.5”4300mm / 169.3”4700mm / 185”Width1780mm / 70”1780mm / 70”1780mm / 70”1780mm / 70”Height1740mm / 68.5”2030mm / 79.9”2030mm / 79.9”2260mm / 88.9”

Pros

  • Mercedes is a reliable brand and it's vans are high quality.
  • There is plenty of headroom, meaning that you can easily stand up inside.
  • The long load length gives you lots of flexibility with the layout.
  • 4WD version is available for reaching the best off-road camp spots. 

Cons

  • The Mercedes name often comes at a higher cost compared to other vans.
  • L4 version has a large base weight so you have to be careful with how much weight you add to the van during your conversion. 
  • Large size means that it can be difficult to drive and awkward to park in built up areas.

Fiat Ducato / Citroen Relay / Peugeot Boxer

Interior Dimensions

L1 H1L2 H2L3 H2L4 H3Length2670mm / 105.1”3120mm / 122.8”3705mm / 145.9”4070mm / 160.2”Width1870mm / 73.6”1870mm / 73.6”1870mm / 73.6”1870mm / 73.6”Height1662mm / 65.4”1932mm / 76”1932mm / 76”2172mm / 85.5”

Pros

  • It’s a wide van which allows for lots of layout options, including a bed across the width of the van.
  • Parts are widely available across Europe, the UK and the US.
  • More affordable compared to other large vans.

Cons

  • Can be less reliable than Mercedes or VW makes.
  • The width means that they can be difficult to drive in narrow streets.
  • Longest version is not as long as other models, so it may be harder to fit in everything you need.

Ford Transit

Interior Dimensions

L1 H1L2 H2L3 H3Length3200mm / 126”3650mm / 143.7”4374mm / 172.2”Width1786mm / 70.3”1786mm / 70.3”1786mm / 70.3”Height1445mm / 56.9”1827mm / 71.9”2070mm / 81.5”

Pros

  • These vans are widely available at a low cost.
  • Parts are widely available across Europe, the UK and the US.
  • The long wheel-base allows you to have a spacious camper conversion.  

Cons

  • The older versions of this van are prone to rust on the bodywork.
  • Built in security on the older vans is poor, so you will need to fit extra locks.
  • These vans are mechanically less reliable than other vans. 

Mercedes Vario

Interior Dimensions

L1 H1L2 H2L3 H2Length5450mm / 214.6”6630mm / 216”7210mm / 283.9"Width1900mm / 74.8”1900mm / 74.8”1900mm / 74.8”Height1780mm / 70.1”1930mm / 76”1930mm / 76”

Pros

  • Ex-mini bus versions of the Vario come with lots of windows, so you won’t need to install any new ones.
  • There is a large internal area with lots of room to be creative with the layout. 
  • Width of the van allows for a full double bed across the back of the van.
  • 4WD versions are available

Cons

  • Attention is often needed to the body work and to treat rust.
  • Varios are often old vehicles that do break down more often than other models. 
  • These sought after vans come with a higher price tag. 
  • A standard driving licence does 
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