Steve sets out to prove you can enjoy camping with a motorhome on a budget.
Motorhomes are an ideal tool to see the world whilst having all your creature comforts with you, but they tend to be expensive. If you are a handy DIYer then here are a selection of budget vans (sub £2000) ideal for motorhome conversions.
The Pilot and larger version, the Convoy were the last of the infamous Sherpa vans and were made between 1996-2006. Available as a van, hightop, or minibus, they proved popular with Royal Mail, motorhome conversions and schools and the low roof 17 seat minibus proved helped LDV take 60% of the minibus market share. Most models were fitted with PSA petrol or diesel engines which were either naturally aspirated or turbo charged and all engines are known for their dependability but can be sluggish, later models were fitted with just as dependable Ford engines. What further helped their popularity is that they were made in the UK and have a 15,000 service interval plus parts are easily obtainable, but be warned LDV built these vans from the parts bins of other manufacturers so you might have to do some searching when new parts are required. The payload of the Convoy ranges from 1,085kg - 1702kg which is good going and they're cheap to buy and in hightop minibus form are popular for DIY motorhome conversions.
Bedford Rascal/Suzuki Super Carry/Daihatsu Hijet/Piaggio Porter
The Bedford Rascal is a micro van sold between 1986-1993 and was also sold as a Vauxhall Rascal and Suzuki Super Carry all in effect the same vehicle and available as a van or minibus. All were fitted with a mid mounted 1.0 litre engine. They proved very popular and are ideal for narrow city streets. The design is so successful it is available brand new as a piaggio Porter. The payload capacity between all models ranges from 560-1120kg. You're probably wondering why a micro van is ideal for a motorhome, well a van this size can go to places large motorhomes just simply cant fit into. This is particularly ideal for narrow roads, or streets as found with very hold historic settlements.
Yet another LDV graces this article and technically the Maxus was the predecessor for the Convoy mentioned previously and was launched in 2004 and built in Birmingham up until 2009 when LDV went into receivership due to lack of funds from its parent company GAZ. The Maxus was fitted with a 2.5 Italian diesel engine with a 5 speed gearbox or 6 speed automatic and proved to be a popular van with UK buyers and received high ratings. What makes the Maxus ideal for motorhome conversions is that it was available in 3 different roof heights and 2 wheelbases. As well as being offered in 3 GVW of 2.8, 3.2 and 3.5 tons. The Maxus is back in production by the Chinese SAIC manufacture as the V80 which means body panels will be readily available.
Ford Transit Mk6 2000-2006
The Ford Transit, Britain's most popular van and as such the most plentiful. Available in short wheel base, long wheel base, high top van and minibus, there's certainly plenty of choice for the DIY motorhome conversion. Most common engines are the 2.0 and 2.4 Duratorq diesel engines. the 2.0 litre is front wheel drive, where as the 2.4 is rear wheel drive both of which have a 15,000 mile service interval and both mated to a 5 speed gearbox. Dependent on model they can easily cope with a ton or two of weight which is ideal for any conversion. Transits generally hold their value, but parts are cheap, plentiful and should be cheap to insure.
Iveco Daily Mk3 2000-2006
Just like the Transit from the same era the Daily is available in short wheel base, long wheel base, high top van and minibus, but is a more heavy duty van with plenty of choice for the DIY motorhome conversion. Diesel engine options range from 2.3-3.0 litres and mated to either a 5 or 6 speed manual gearbox or semi automatic gearbox dependent on body style. The Daily can carry anywhere from 2.8-6.5 tons so it'll cope with all motorhome fixtures and fittings without a doubt.
For the £2000 budget early Mk2 models are available predominately with the 2.1 or 2.2 CDI engine and either a manual or automatic gearbox. The Vito is available in short or long wheelbase (Vario) but the former is more common. The Vito could be spec'd with a hightop but this appears to be rare, but poptop roofs are available if you require the extra height. Mechanically the Vito is a durable van but is prone to rusting, but no much so than other vans on this list.