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

Andy Focallocal
Dec 28, 2016 · 3 min read

Lots of people have asked my advice on buying a van over the past few years. After writing this out around 6 times i thought i’d create an article here about it so i can just send people a link in the future

So here’s my advice: 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 and with a few superficial things done, mostly a coat of paint, its worth around £3,000 now

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 issues that needed fixed and slapping the cash on the table and saying ‘take it or leave it’. That always gets people to think screw it i might as well go with it. 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

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
#2 Sprinter post-2001. looked after expect 800,000miles
#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


fter 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

Have a mechanic with you when you view it but still EXPECT to spend a few hundred after buying to fix any issues missed

Originally published at Focallocal.

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