VW T4 Campervan Conversion

The day we bought the van…

‘I’m selling the car’ he announced one night. This was the start of it. When Jonny gets an idea in his head, he will let nothing get in his way. I asked all the usual practical questions which we were met with all his usual responses and I knew his mind had been made. Not that I wanted to change it but the way he talked about it, I could see this project becoming something much more and selfishly, I didn’t want it to eat too much into our family time. One last thing though, are you sure you’re going to be able to do this? I mean, converting a van – the electrics, engine work, body work – you’re handy but this feels like a whole other level! ‘Don’t worry, it’s all on youtube!’ he joked.

So, on a Summer’s day in 2017, we traded in our old Freelander for a T4, a former carpet fitters van from Southport. Excellent service history, pretty good body work, captain seats and a tailgate. Perfect for a camper conversion! 

So Why a T4?

Originally, we were looking for a T5 with a £4000 budget, but soon realised that vans in this price bracket had very high mileage and were hard worked. Not a good starting point for a campervan. Whilst researching van conversions we came across The Indie Projects on youtube. At the time they were living full time in a T4 travelling around Europe. The van looked cool so we started googling T4 conversions and entered a whole new world. The T4 conversion community is amazing, everyone is sharing their ideas and build projects. This inspired us to search for a T4 to convert and we soon found one that met our requirements. We paid £3500 for it. I asked Jonny to write about the conversion…

Bulk head out, windows in, insulation and carpet lining!

First job was to get the bulk head out. This was fixed with spot welds, so needed to be grinded out with an angle grinder, heavy going! Cutting holes into the van was a bit daunting, but with some excellent guidelines on the internet forums, I soon had the holes cut and prepared for the glass to go in. Insulating and ply lining was easy thanks to the van already being ply lined, it was a matter of taking the existing panels off, sound proofing and insulating the walls and then fixing the ply back on. Finally it was time to fit the carpet lining. Thanks to the four way stretch carpet, this was pretty straight forward, providing you kept a sharp blade on the Stanley knife. The end result was really rewarding.

Fast forward three months…

Over the next three months I managed to turn the carpet fitters van into a fully functioning campervan! The floor is 12mm ply wood with Altro liner on top. I fitted a leisure battery and control panel in the back. I also added a 240v consumer unit and hook up connection for when on site. Next came the rock and roll bed, followed by the units. The units are from Ikea and have been adapted to fit the space. Again, loads of info online that helped me through this. The curtains were from Vee Dub Transporters, the Dometic sink and hob unit were from Clearcut Conversions and the captain seat cover was from UK Covers. We had a side elevating pop top fitted by the famous Ebay pop top man! I had to put the bed panels in myself and I found a how to guide for this online.  

The end result…

I added some second hand 17” alloy wheels off an Audi A6 and replaced all the shock absorbers and ball joints. This improved the drive massively. There was some minor work needed on rust around the wheel arches and finally I buffed the paint work with compound and then gave it a good polish. The dream became reality! We’ve since enjoyed many trips to the Lake District, Northumberland, Anglesey, Scotland and had our first Cornish camping experience in the Summer of 2019. When you’re on the road with a T4, life is never boring thanks to the friendly waves of other T4 drivers, if you know you know!

As a young lad, Jonny would enjoy watching his Dad work on cars in their garage and it was lovely to see our children taking an interest in the conversion too, their excitement building for when they could actually sleep in it for the first time! YouTube and various Internet forums really were of incredible value throughout this project. Have you ever thought about converting your own campervan? We are planning on writing a follow up post about a few things that we probably would have done a bit differently now that we’ve been out and camped in the van, so watch this space!

Thank you for reading! 🌅 🚐

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