By Peter Bloom
As caravanning increases in popularity with the economic down-turn, so is the rate of campervan conversions, say experts Peter Bloom and Paul Taylor.
The motor vehicle census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found the campervan vehicle ﬂeet increased by 23% from 2006 to 2011. These are not just traditional vehicles bought from a dealer, however; many of the campervans taking to the road are conversions, with past lives ranging from 1970’s school buses to retired ambulance vehicles.
Campervan Conversion Save You Money
With new campervans costing up to $150,000 Mr. Bloom from Red Dog Campervans and RV’s says the trend to conversions is not surprising, as customers save up to 35%.
“You can save a lot of money on purchasing a second hand vehicle,” she says, explaining that it’s not just the initial cost of the vehicle, but also the fit-out, which saves consumers money.
Despite the large difference in price between a new campervan and a converted one, Mr. Bloom believes this is not the greatest advantage of undertaking a conversion.
Get The Exact Campervan Conversion You Want
“The biggest benefit is that you get exactly the layout and features you want, rather than pre-built.”
“The new campervans sometimes come in very neutral colours. When you do a conversion you can choose how you want it decorated. You can add your own sense of personality and style.”
The ability to select the type and range of appliances in the campervan is also another advantage. “A very popular request is external cooking facilities,” Mr. Bloom says. “A lot of people don’t like cooking inside because of the smells, so having an outdoor kitchen is a great solution.”
Mr. Bloom lists extra storage space as another common application requested, along with solar panels and fresh water and grey water tanks, which give the ability to free-camp. What can be placed in the campervan depends on largely on the type and size of vehicle used. As such, for those considering getting a vehicle converted it is important to purchase the right one.
“[The best suited vehicle] depends on the length of your trips, if you be travelling off road or sticking to caravan parks and if you are going to be living in it for long periods of time,” Mr. Bloom explains.
Short Weekend Trips Or Longer Trips: Campervans Are Perfect
For those looking to take short weekend trips, Mr. Bloom recommends Mercedes sprinters. “They are a lot easier to drive–you can drive them on a normal car licence–they are easy to get in and around town, easier to park and they are more fuel efficient than some of the bigger vehicles”
For those looking to take longer trips or even live in their motorhome, however, seven metre long vehicles such as the Toyota Coaster, Hino Rainbow or Mazda T3500, or large coaches of 12 metres, would be more suitable.
According to Mr Taylor from Motorhome Conversion Company, a recent trend is converting old school busses, from as early as the 1970’s, into motorhomes. “Due to the law changes, making it easier to purchase decommissioned school busses, we have seen a great increase in this type of vehicle,” he says. “These school busses are large so there is a lot you can do with them.”
As with any second-hand vehicle it is important ensure it is in good condition; however, according to Mr. Bloom, buyers don’t be too worried about the kilometres. “The vehicles [used for conversions] are built to do two to three hundred thousand kilometres so you can get away with purchasing a vehicle with 100,000 kilometres on the clock,” Mr. Bloom says.
While those wishing to join the ever growing list of people converting campervans may have freedom with the vehicle they purchase, Mr Taylor warns there is a lot that can go wrong if the conversion isn’t carried out correctly. “If it is not done right, things can get messy. Motorhomes have to have certain types of fridges and if the cabinets haven’t allowed for the appropriate amount of flex, they can fall down.”
With the rate of conversions increasing, businesses such as Motorhome Conversion Company and Red Dog Campervans have seen their business double in the last four years. As such, Mr. Bloom and Mr Taylor recommend organising a professional to convert your vehicle into a campervan as early as possible. “Most people go away around Christmas time, so to make sure your campervan is finished in time for your holiday, it is best to get the conversion done earlier in the year.”
Get your campervan conversion by Gold Coast company, Red Dog Campers.