Dreaming Of My Next Conversion
You know when you’ve almost managed to convince yourself that you’ve got a really good argument for doing something that you probably really shouldn’t? Well I’m right there with this idea for my next campervan conversion! In fact it’s even better than that as it’s not just a campervan conversion – it’s a business venture too!
Those of you that know me from the Brick Yard forum and the VOLT Facebook group know that I have a bit of a thing for VW LT’s (also not forgetting my vwlt.co.uk). We’re talking mk 1 LT’s here – the pre-’96 model. I converted an LT35 panel van into a camper back in 2004 and I currently drive a Westfalia Florida on an ’89 LT28 chassis.
The one that I haven’t driven or owned is the 4×4 version of this vehicle. On the LT40 chassis (the one you need a truck license for unless you have the rear leaf springs down-rated) this beast sits a good few inches higher up off the ground and has a real ‘I can go anywhere’ look to it. There really isn’t anything else like it in the panel van world – it has the space to build a 4 bed camper layout inside it’s metal walls, but still parks in a big estate car parking space. Yes it may not appeal so much to the neighbours as the Florida, but you can snap up some really special ones right now for a relative song.
So what are the downsides? Well as Facebook friend of mine Ray Perry will tell you, if something goes wrong with the axles and/or drivetrain you’ll either be looking at a complete long shot getting a replacement or the high cost of getting your own replacement parts manufactured. Yes it is possible but you may need to think twice. Me – I’m just an addict and would have to just cross that bridge when I come to it!
The Van – an Austrian VW LT 4×4 fire truck
Just feast your eyes on this beauty, on sale in Austria for €8,990 (£6,596.47 at the time of writing):
There’s lots you could do with this. Obviously it’s not your typical panel van with those shutters at the back so you couldn’t do the usual interior fit out. You’d have to consider a roof top tent for this to my mind. There’s plenty of fancy pop up and pop out safari tents these days so I wouldn’t see this as an issue at all as it’s certainly not a case of sleeping on the ground!
Then the business idea comes into play. After clearing out all the fire brigade clutter at the back there’d be the perfect space and height to fit out the interior with a pressurised water system and an Italian coffee machine! Make it a red one and light it well and you’ll have space on 3 sides to use for serving and as a counter for punters to sip their espressos from!
Then you just need the shade of a nice awning, and at the Overland Adventure Show last year I saw some amazing wrap around, leg-free awnings like this one from Nene Overland to keep the punters (and staff) sheltered during bad weather :
However even when you’ve got your truck sorted (that’s about £10k all in inc. importation costs) , and got a good name for it – how about THE LITTLE RED ROASTER?! – you’ll still be lucky to be able to tout it enough to make money, and that’s even from a very healthy profit margin on coffee sales (at least for now). Most VW shows now have a lot of custom VW vans flogging wares so even if you turn up in the coolest, most heading-turning vehicle you’ll have to join a queue to get in to trade.
Ah well – it’s a great plan but a bit of a pipe dream… But we can all dream of our next conversion 🙂