Ok I am going to start with a confession!! Creating campervans happens to be my day job, a long, long time before we started the camper hire company I founded a company called Madmatz, originally we just made carpet sets for classic Splitscreen and Bay Window campers but over the years this expanded to full interiors for the classics buses and beetles including upholstery and soft furnishings, screen covers and full furniture installs all made in-house on our own machines. It was the CNC router that led us to start converting T6 campers ourselves, as we were asked by our friends at other local conversion companies to cut and supply the camping interiors to them. We are now able to complete a full conversion in house every 7 days from our rather unassuming factory set amongst the terraced houses in Kettering. Confession Over and on with the build...
I know it sounds obvious but the most important decision is selecting the right van to base your camper on, In my mind it has to be the Volkswagen Transporter, the latest version of this the T6 is perfect if your budget can stretch that far. I always go for the Highline trim as that gives you the creature comforts like air con, captain's chairs and a decent infotainment package along with a few other extras in the cab area. If we are buying new as we do with our hire campers I also always include a few factory options as well, these include front swivel seats and a heated rear screen with wash wipe, only little things but they make for a much better camper van.
Safety is our next consideration, Cutting the roof and the sides out of a brand new van is a serious business so we always use the TUV tested poptop roof from Austops and fit factory style tinted glass to go back in the sides of the van. The rear seat bed should also be the best you can afford, our hire vans are fitted with 112 Altair RIB beds as standard, they are the best on the market having been fully in vehicle crash tested and also feature Isofix points for securing car seats for the little ones, the operation to flip it from a safe traveling seat into a comfortable bed to sleep on is an easy operation.
Spending time in the van you want decent kit to make your camping trips a pleasure, we use Dometic appliances throughout our hire vans as not only do you want them to be reliable, you also need them to run very efficiently. Power consumption is a big factor especially if you are planning to spend time off grid, as far as power management goes we have it covered, our camper vans all feature Bluemotion compatible chargers that direct wasted electrical power when you brake into the leisure battery. We also have a solar panel fitted to the poptop roof making sure you always have power when you need it.
That just leaves the camping interior units. If you have ever looked around at T6 campers you will have noted that the majority of layouts look very similar, a Rock & Roll type bed with storage underneath on the same side as the sliding door and a long unit down the opposite side housing the appliances and further storage. This layout dates right back to the early days of camper conversions and owes a lot to the designers from Westfalia and Devon campers in the 70's. The real art is turning the space available into useful storage and most of us converters will claim that ours is the best, the real answer however is that all campers can't be all things to all people so we try to maximise what we have by moving things like the fresh water tank out of the way under the van freeing up extra space inside. Its then down to the end users to workout what they want to get in there, little things like the use of collapsable kettles and washing up bowls all helps and are included in our hire vans.
Well that's enough waffle from me so I will just leave you with a few pictures taken at various stages during the build of our Hire Camper Henry.