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Author Topic: New Member From Edmonton, AB  (Read 1387 times)


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New Member From Edmonton, AB
« on: June 13, 2018, 03:30:55 PM »
Hey guys,

My name is Dylan and I am from Edmonton, AB Canada and I am currently in the process of beginning to buy and build my first van conversion!

Right now I am still in the research phase of choosing which platform to begin with. Obviously, the ideal route would be a sprinter van but where I am these cost anywhere from $22 000 to $60 000 and that is just out of my price range.

The next best platform in my opinion would be a Chevy cargo van. They are large, already fully gutted inside and easy to work on as there isn't a whole lot going on inside of them. Problem is, I currently have a summer specific car (we have 8 months of winter) and whichever van I decide to build my camper in will also be my winter daily driver. So I would like the van to still look cool and not just a huge square cargo van.

That brings me to my third option; import a JDM van which is the cheapest route (can get them for about $5000 to my door) and they look the best but I have some concerns. For one they are a little smaller but I won't be living in the van so I am not overly worried about it being huge. The second concern with a van like this would be with all the air conditioning and electronics, once gutted there would be just a huge mess of wiring, AC/heat plumbing and all kinds of things which make building in much more difficult.

Sorry for the long intro, just thought I would share my initial thoughts and see what sort of insight you guys can give me!

Vans I am considering

Honda Stepwgn (RF body) - Cheap, looks good and a good daily driver but smaller and lots of electronics and plumbing which would make building more difficult.

Mazda Bongo Friendee - Cheap, looks good, can get with an auto free top and a good daily driver but smaller and lots of electronics and plumbing which would make building more difficult.

Chevy Cargo Van - Cheap, large, reliable and very easy to build in but not the best looking and wouldn't make for the ideal daily driver.


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Re: New Member From Edmonton, AB
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 05:45:50 PM »
Hi Dylan, I also live in Edmonton and am trying to decide which van to buy. Interesting seeing your list, some of which I've never heard of. I am currently looking at Nissan NV200, NV2500 and Ford vans. I have driven Toyota cars for years, and love the durability and low fuel costs of Asian products like Toyota and Nissan. I'm also on a budget and am hoping to find something for $15,000 or less with under 100,000 kms on the odometer. I am finding some Nissan NV200s in that range. Let me know what you decide - it's a hard call!


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Re: New Member From Edmonton, AB
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 06:21:44 AM »
Greetings and Welcome to both of you!

Cargo vans of any kind make terrible camper vans.  Gutting or stripping a window van is also a dumb idea, suggested only by those without a clue or those looking to make money in some way.  Passenger vans make the best camper vans, simply remove the rear seats and move your new interior in.  The floor, walls, and ceiling are already finished and will save you a ton of $$$, time, work, and frustrations.  Passenger vans typically get much better gas mileage too.

Windows are what make your adventure enjoyable.  Opening windows provide much better ventilation than roof vents, and any holes in your roof will leak sooner or later.  Window vans are both easier to heat and easier to cool, and safer and more enjoyable to drive.  Window vans are a whole lot stealthier too.  Unknown cargo vans have a very bad reputation in cities at night.

Forget most of what you see online, because most of it is a sales pitch from somebody looking for a payday, or somebody repeating that same nonsense.  If you're not careful you can dump a ton of money into a rig that will turn out to be uncomfortable, and that you'll never get your money back out of.

I don't know if they salt the roads in your area, but if they do be careful of rusty vehicles.  I would try to buy one from a more rust free area if none are available nearby.  Only an older fully depreciated van will hold it's value.  Depreciation has a nasty habit of killing any of the savings people are hoping to gain.

Contrary to much of the advice you see online, most of the fulltimers, or even part timers that I've run into prefer older pre computerized vans for their reliabilty and ease & cost of repair.  My early 80's Dodge van falls into that category, and I love it. 

Consider whether you want standing room inside.  Both high tops and low tops have their own advantages.  Pre-built is frequently cheaper than building one yourself...  Older RV's can also frequently be found at bargain basement prices in excellent condition.  Unless you're stuck in a city full time, RV's could be a much better choice than a van.  A cheap RV could buy you several years worth of rent in an RV park too, with the money you'd be saving.

The cheaper you go on a rig, the more money you'll have left to actually enjoy life.  Price has very little to do with either quality, reliability, or comfort.  Floorplans on the other hand, mean EVERYTHING!  A comfortable floorplan that fits everything in that you want or need is one of the most important things you can do.  Too many people neglect very important things like where you're going to sit, lounge, or work inside your rig.  Never compromise on comfort, convenience, functionality, or reliability.  Personally I tend to lean towards the idea than everybody should have all  of amenities of a much larger RV even in a camper van, just in a more compact form.  It doesn't cost any more to live comfortably than it does to live miserably.

Anyway, hope this helps, and keep us posted!


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