You buy your pre-owned panel van, you decide on your layout and pick out your fabrics, and a few weeks later you pick up a shiny new campervan conversion and take to the road! That’s how it goes, or it used to.
But there’s been a hiccup in that scenario. There have been some changes recently at the DVLA making it harder to reclassify your beautiful new converted van to a motorhome designation.
Well, never mind, I hear you say. We’ll just live out our camper dream without the Change Of Use from DVLA. No problem.
And for the most part, there is no problem. But for one little detail.
A panel van, or Commercial Vehicle, is only able to travel on A roads at 50mph, and dual carriageways at 60mph. Whereas Motorhomes are able to travel at normal car speeds throughout Britain’s roadways.
And although you’re unlikely to get a ticket, it’s worth considering that if you break commercial vehicle speed limits and are involved in an accident, then your insurance will not be valid. Hmmm, food for thought?
Around 2 years ago, the DVLA changed their team and they stopped giving Change Of Use to reclassify smaller converted vans like the VW Transporter campervans as motorhomes, that is unless you add a high top.
It used to be that converters could take a panel van, fit it out, meet all the DVLA criteria (eg – cooker, sink, windows etc) and with supporting photos, they would grant a Change Of Use and the vehicle could legally be driven at car speeds.
This is no longer the case, and unless you have a high top, the converted vehicle will not successfully obtain Change Of Use – sink and windows or not!
For some, this technicality is of no consequence and they will happily set off on the road to their new van life and potter through their adventures sticking to the commercial speeds that are allowed for converted panel vans.
But for others, car speeds are a priority, and it is for this reason that Cambee started looking to the VW Shuttle for a way around the problem.
Already registered as a car, the Shuttle is a perfect solution because you will not require Change Of Use from the DVLA in order to drive car speed limits.
Shuttles are actually quite good value. Generally bought and driven as a car with relatively light use, theirs is a quieter life than the average panel van, which may have had a busier time carrying loads or delivering parcels.
If it’s 12-18 months old with 10-20k miles, you can be fairly sure that there will be little wrong with it other than a few parking dings. Beware, though, the older, higher mileage ones. These could have had a past life as a taxi, and you definitely don’t want a vehicle that’s been chugging around the city for 70k miles a year!
If you’re planning a full sided conversion and can cover up that heating unit in the back, it’s a great vehicle. Another benefit is that if you’ve got kids in the back, they have their own AC controls.
Imagine sitting in hot traffic in the South of France in the summer, trying to belt the aircon out of the vents in the dash all the way to the back of the van! With their own controls, they can be as hot or cold as they like in the back.
Shuttles are all tailgates too, a much sought-after feature in a campervan base vehicle.
Price is a big consideration when choosing a base van for your camper. Shuttles in good condition with low mileage offer really good value and are generally around £22k-£24k with air con and single front seats. This is a bonus if you’re planning, as many do, to swap the twin passenger seat, a move which could set you back £800 for a used single replacement.
Unlike other VW vans, they haven’t seen the huge price increase common since the pandemic hit and the popularity of campervans soared. Some models are up 30-40% whereas the Shuttle has remained stable.
This is in part due to the reluctance of converters to take them on.
Well, from a commercial point of view, Shuttles are a pain. Most converters aren’t keen on them because of the heater installed at the back, and the plastics that need to be stripped. Also, twin sliding doors can reduce your options when considering a standard conversion.
Converters aren’t able to claim the VAT back either, meaning that a £20k base vehicle becomes £24k of vehicle once the conversion is complete and the VAT has been added.
Another consideration is that they mostly come in a colour, meaning that your pop top will have to have a spray to match the paintwork.
We’ve weighed the pros and cons of converting this vehicle, and we’ve built an interior that we think works really well, even though we say so ourselves!
Although the conversion costs are a little higher due to the fiddly nature of the process, the finished price overall works out very similar to a typical campervan conversion in mid-£40k range.
It may not make much commercial sense for Cambee to take on a model which takes more time to convert than a standard panel van, but as a converter who wants to give best possible advice to our customers, we think building a camper that suits your needs and budget is of vital importance. And ultimately that’s why people come to us.
It’s a simple question but a hard one to answer and depends on many different factors
With so many options, choosing your van interior can seem like a headache. Help is at hand with our guide to fabrics and finishes.