5. The Front of the Van
We’ve talked about the interior, we’ve talked about the back, but we haven’t talked about the actual van itself.
The van you choose is quite literally the first step to creating your little home on wheels. Leslie has made the mistake of buying a van that didn’t work out, so he can assure you that it’s a pretty crucial decision.
We’re going to gloss over how your van choice affects the rest of your build.
Yes, it’s nice to have a fancy fridge in the van, and a bunch of solar panels on the roof, or a shower in the back, and so on. However, those luxuries shouldn’t take up the whole budget of your build.
You want to buy a van you’re confident in. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands on mechanical repairs, so you need to buy a vehicle that you’re sure won’t explode on its first voyage. Going cheap on the actual van can be more expensive in the long run, and also cause you to waste more time on the road.
Leslie chose a VW LT46 for his build, here’s some pros and cons:
The van is super solid. Under the hood is rarely a sexy conversation piece, but so far, we’ve been really happy with how it’s ran. There’s no oil leaking, the engine doesn’t miss a beat on start up and there’s no ominous light flashing on the dash.
It’s hard to ask for anything else. It’s a 2.4tdi engine built in 1996 with about 200,000km on it. 200,000km sounds like a lot, because it is. However, for a car, it might be calling for death soon, but with a van, there have been stories of them running up to and past 500,000km. If we got to 300,000km, there’ll be a framed photo of the van hanging in the Gnarvana headquarters.
What’s also nice is the cab itself. It’s very spacious and doesn’t feel like it’s from 1996. In fact, Leslie had a van from 2005 before and it felt more dated than this one. The new radio and speakers help keep her looking and feeling fresh, too.
There’s not too many to talk about, honestly. A small, yet fixable gripe is the fact that there’s only one passenger seat. It would be nice to have the double seat to legally transport three people around, but €100 can fix that problem so it’s not the end of the world.
The length and height of the van can be a bit annoying at times. Because this van didn’t come with the box we fitted on the back, we had to make adjustments so that they fit nicely together. This increased the height of the van and then also made a two foot space at the back which isn’t used. This problem is fixed by simply driving the van more and getting used to it, but it’s a shame because it’s unnecessarily high and long.
Other than that, we’re delighted with the van and how it’s felt on the road. It’s only been 3 months, so we won’t get too crazy with analysing, but hopefully it keeps up this pace for the full year.
Watch the video below to check out the front cab and hear what Leslie has to say on it all.