December 28, 2016

Buying the perfect van for a Road Trip, advice from Andy

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Lots of people have asked my advice on buying a van over the past few years so i thought it’d save time to just write up some basic thoughts and send people a link next time they ask me

So here’s my advice: #1 Get a Sprinter like Connie the Connector.

4 years i’ve been living in Connie and driving all over Europe creating Positive Action; from the South of Spain to the Ukraine during Russia’s annexation of Crimea, across to the beautiful and warm islands of Greece, and most places in-between

We converted Connie to run on old cooking oil (WVO) which we collect from restaurants, so that we could drive everywhere for free, and still no mechanical problems at all (besides an adventure getting a new clutch in Slovenia, but that’s normal, every vehicle needs a new one after a certain amount of miles) – although collecting cooking oil has become much more difficult in the last few years as Bio-Diesel companies have popped up everywhere and pay for waste oil

look after it well and it’ll make 800,000 miles easily, and the value doesn’t go down. i bought Connie for £1,300 with 134k on the clock, and with a few superficial things, most importantly just treating the rust and a coat of paint, its worth around £2,500 – £3,000 now, 4 years later

i bought Connie from a fairly small dealer where it’d been traded in with part exchange, so i know that they just want rid of it asap, and i haggled the price down from £1,800 by finding and (over) costing issues that needed fixed, then slapping a stack of cash on the table and saying it was all i had (in that pocket 😉 ‘take it or leave it’. That often gets people to accept a far lower price than they wanted. With a Sprinter you’re looking for under 150,000 miles on the clock really. unless you get a really old, pre-2001 model. Which are so easy to repair you can pretty much keep them running forever

My 1st Van was a monster of a vehicle, an extremely powerful ’97 2.8l Turbo Iveco Daily.

After that the old Iveco Dailies (1998 and earlier) are the 3rd best van ever made, i owned one of these before Connie.

here’s a list of the best van’s ever made:
#1 Sprinter pre-2001. looked after will run forever (TDI)
#2 Sprinter post-2001. looked after expect 800,000miles (CDI)
#3 Iveco Daily Pre Fiat take over (around 1990 – 2000). looked after can reach 600,000miles

#4 Any Ford. Expect it to break regularly but is cheap to repair so can reach over 600k
#4 LDV. looked after expect 150 – 200k
#4 VW Transporter. Looked after expect 150 – 200k

Connie is much prettier ..if under powered compared to my 1st. Connie is 2.1L 311 Mercedes Sprinter CDI born in 2002

After finding one that looks good If you aren’t sure, take a look around and see who is selling the same model and what kind of mileage they have. If you cant find many above 100k for example, its a sign that not many survive that long

Always try to suss out why the seller is selling as its often because they’ve found out it needs expensive repairs. That’s why i went with a dealer and part-exchange, there was better chance that it was a straight forward upgrade. Dealers generally have little interest in trade-ins anyway as their focus is just on selling the new van. if you pick out as many problems with the trade in as possible, then haggling with someone who just wants rid of a vehicle is pretty easy.

Have a mechanic with you when you view it but still EXPECT to spend a few hundred after buying to fix any issues missed and plan that into your budget

Yes, Connie has its own Facebook following. Its a good van :0)


Also published on Medium.