I thought that it would be good to show people what you can do with a van to get outside more and have those adventures that many of us dream about.
I’ve owned a VW T4 for years now that I converted myself and I’ve loved every second of it, taking me to most of the Hebrides, Cairngorms, The Lakes, Wales, Exmoor and countless other places.
Then in September 2019 this unfortunately stopped. The T4 got crashed into and after much “umming and arring” by the insurance company at whether they were going to write it off, they agreed a payout for me to repair it in January 2020 – yes 4 months! 6 months of physio, being told I can’t go out hiking with a rucksack yet then ensued.
By this time I’d had enough and thought it’s time for a change. So I did some hunting around for another van and came across a Vauxhall Vivaro 04 plate 1.9TDI on 130000 miles (almost 150000 less than my VW – Note: VW’s hold there value well, but have a silly “scene tax”). I wanted a SWB high top as the SWB is a similar length to my old VW and the high top gave me and the wife a little more head room (not that we need much – we’re not exactly 6ft!). Whilst the high top gave some restrictions, such as not getting into car parks with barriers, looking back there were rarely any places we rocked up to in the VW that had barriers.
Other things to note about the choice of van was that it really was immaculate underneath and on the rest of the bodywork. Before buying it I joined a few Vauxhall Vivaro members groups on Facebook to research the common problems and soon discovered that they have a galvanised body, so they don’t rust like other vans of similar ages. The engine is good provided it’s serviced regularly (much like any other vehicle).
So with the payout for my VW I bought a Vivaro after some haggling for £1800 in February 2020. Sure it had a few advisories, but the engine sounded good, it pulled fine, gear change was smooth, the body work was good and the advisories were suspension, joints and brake pipe related items. Many of which I could and have done myself on the VW, however as I wanted a clean slate to work from in a short amount of time and didn’t fancy crawling under it with a dodgy back, I left my local garage to sort the advisories. On top of this they are giving it a once over to see if anything else crops up – always good to know a decent garage!
In the meantime I sold my VW in March 2020 for £2200 (without having to do anything to it – bonus) which gave me a much needed cash boost to pay for the garage work on the Vivaro and some extra to think about plans moving forward. I’m also putting £215 per month into a “Van Account”, money which originally was for a loan to get the VW in the first place (worked out cheaper than getting a new vehicle on HPI) the loans now cleared, so the monthly amount can go towards another van!
So the Vivaro’s in the garage having the filling done to it:
Front shock absorbers – Advisory
Track rod ends – Advisory
Inner tie rods – Advisory
Near side CV boot – Advisory
Brake pipes – Advisory
CAM belt – if you don’t know when this was last changed, always change this on any vehicle (saves you a penny or too down the line).
Pads – the garage recommended I changed them.
Discs – the garage recommended I changed them.
Whilst it’s in the garage I’ve been thinking about the next plan of attack… heading back to the Facebook groups I talked about earlier, one common problem with this year of Vivaro is that the scuttle seal around the window let’s water in over time and this drips on the injectors, which can cause them to seize in place.
I plan on doing the major “body bits” first before I attempt the “nicey nicey” internal bits. After more research I have compiled a mini to do list, the wife is anxious to get involved too with the easier sections so here goes:
1. Scuttle seal.
2. Change any cracked light casings.
3. Tow bar and wiring – won’t believe how much I rate these, just for accident protection alone!
4. Sliding door bottom runner (it’s deteriorating and needs changing).
5. Cut and fit a window to the sliding door.
6. Cut and fit a skylight to the roof.
7. Add a roof rack and ladders – still undecided on this ATM, a roof rack is useful and provided it has raised mounts (which I think it does on the Vivaro) I may go for it, as I wouldn’t be bolting it through bare metal. I could later use this to mount a solar panel, lights, awning and TV aerial. Best to do this now rather than later mind.
8. Add a port to the roof for wiring to enter into the van.
9. Add Cherry Blossom polish to the external plastic trim (this can be done any time – it just neatens it all up).
10. Gut the inside.
11. Plan cabling, charger, plug, socket, speakers, bed, fridge, sink, TV, heater and cupboard locations.
12. Wire in all cabling.
14. Add heater.
15. Insulate, re-ply and cover the van.
16. Add swivel base to passenger seats.
17. Make a fold down bed.
18. Re-upholster seats and bed.
19. Add a Car Play system.
20. Sort out heater control lights (change to LED’s).
21. Add rear reversing camera.
22. Add dash cam.
23. Add front spot lights.
24. Add rear spot lights.
25. Add awning.
26. Add TV aerial.