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Sunday November 20, 2022

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a New VW Campervan

3 minutes well spent

Written by John Broderick
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1. VW Legacy

The VW campervan is undoubtedly the most iconic in the history of this type of leisure vehicle. Although there have been different models and slightly different looks over the years, the familiar aesthetics of these wonderful vans has remained constant and means that they are still utterly magnetic. They’re as desirable now as they were when they first appeared in the middle of the 20th century.

It’s not just down to the design, though. VW motorhomes and campers are machines also built for performance. There are even older models out there still ‘doing the business’ decades on (having had TLC provided by patient expert mechanics). But if you’re thinking about buying a brand new VW campervan you’re definitely going to get something reliable that is both beautiful to look at and brilliant to drive. So what are the things you need to know when you’ve browsing for a VW camper?

2. The VW T6 Campervan Conversion

These days any VW camper conversion tends to be based on the T6 van. The T6 is the sixth generation of Transporter by VW and is the version you’d buy if you walked off the forecourt with a factory-fresh unconverted van today. The VW T6 originally launched in September 2015, as the replacement for the T5. It features a completely newly-styled front end and, in the case of Tailgate models, a new-style rear end. In addition, the dashboard is a more modern design, making the actual driving a more convenient and comfortable experience. Spec levels in the T6 are higher than ever before, with some models in the range featuring heated windscreen, DAB touchscreen radio, lane change assist and more.

Although there is an option for a T6 with 2.0 TSI petrol engine, this is rare, and the vehicle is almost always going to be powered by a 2.0 TDI diesel engine. Gearboxes are available in 5/6-speed manuals or 7-speed DSG semi-automatics (on the more powerful engines).

3. Things to Look Out For

As is the case with any kind of purchase of something brand new, there should still be a level of interest in some of the details, to make sure you are getting exactly what you think you are getting and exactly what you want.

4. Equipment Levels

Although the T6-based VW campers can also double as domestic vehicles for day-to-day running, the chances are that if you are buying a new one you are actively looking at using it for short breaks and holidays. So take stock of the equipment specifications to make sure they match what you will need when you’re out there on the road or in the wild.

The majority of conversions come with a decent array of cooking equipment: perhaps twin gas hob and grill, cold water supply, 240v mains hook-up and a fridge as standard. This level of spec may suffice for mostly spring and summer staycations, but if there is likely to be an all-year round use for extended periods, water heaters could be important. Other things to consider are leisure batteries and onboard waste tanks, toilet, shower etc. Does the campervan have a bike rack fitted (if you are going to be using it as your base vehicle for cycling holidays). Check your list of wants against what is available on the vehicle you’re looking at.

5. Layouts

You will find that in most VW campervan conversions the fixtures and fittings (kitchenette, etc) are run along the driver’s side of the rear portion of the van. This format of layout leads to bench seat dining arrangements plus a bed across 75% of the width of the vehicle. Some conversions offer different layouts whereby the front seats are utilised to make twin single beds (or one large double) and a rear galley kitchen with the dining area sited in the centre of the van. Check the specifications / layout maps of the different vans you are looking at to see what they offer, and which layout (if available) you think the most likely to suit your lifestyle and your needs.

6. Safety

It’s almost certain that any new VW campervans will have the appropriate paperwork to prove that all safety checks have been carried out and that (if required) the systems within are safe certified. Within the average conversion are gas, water and electrical systems (plus appliances) each of which should be checked by the relevant professional. Qualified engineers can conduct a Habitation Check which involves visual and physical checks of all systems (along with other things like opening windows and secureness of cupboards etc). This check should be repeated on an at least annual basis (from a safety perspective) and can also highlight whether appliances are faulty (etc) that could cost more money to replace if left in that condition.

7. VW campervan conversions at Don Amott

Here at Don Amott we’ve collaborated with the renowned Camper King converters to offer some truly top of the range new VW campervan conversions and custom VW campers. With unique and bespoke designs, this selection of custom VW campervans will have something for everyone.