For those of you who know me know that I tend to make rash and spontaneous decisions/purchases. For example, I moved across the country from Boston MA to South Lake Tahoe CA with less than 2 weeks notice and if I remember correctly I’m fairly certain there was some alcohol involved when I booked my flight. Oops! Turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made and I’m starting to think spending my life savings on a giant empty cargo van is a close second.
Contrary to popular belief, I actually did put a fair amount of research into this one and to be honest I was probably pretty boring company for a while because different types of vans/trucks caught my attention everywhere I went and it was all I could talk about. My friend Erik can definitely attest to this. Meet Erik… and check out baby Stoke! I may be biased but come on, how cute??
The biggest consideration I had was money. I was on a tight budget and was trying my best to take out the smallest loan possible or avoid one altogether. This cut my search window down drastically. I very quickly had to come to terms with the fact that a Sportsmobile was out of the question. I can still dream about them though, ahhh wouldn’t that be nice…
For a while I thought I would go with a truck and cabover combination such as “The Betty”, a perfect option for gear junkies, lots of places for all them toys!
This would give me 4WD (a huge plus when living in a ski town) and a conveniently prebuilt and functioning living space on top. However, you may not have known this before so I’ll let you in on a little secret… Trucks are expensive!! A quick trip to some sketchy car dealerships in Reno helped me to learn that my $10,000 would get me a rather old truck with many, many miles on it. Which would be suitable if I could find the right deal but that would still only get me halfway seeing as I still needed to find a cabover. Luckily though, used cabovers are easy to find and fairly cheap. Had something presented itself sooner I would have probably taken a much easier way out and been living in the lap of luxury from day one.
When my endless searching got overwhelming I often thought I could just live in my Subaru or buy a minivan and ditch all the seats and toss and sleeping bag on the floor. Court did it for 6 weeks with two (demonic) pups so I knew it was possible.
Finally there was the Sprinter van option which I originally dismissed because I thought they all had the price tag of a house, like this one, coming in at $119,600
Then I learned that there was a cargo line of Sprinter vans. Ones used by companies like DHL for deliveries which just so happens to be what I wound up buying. I never noticed these vans before but I now find myself constantly yelling out “SPRINTER!” every time I pass one while driving, which happens to be a lot. It’s a fun game, you should try it.
Some of the perks of a Sprinter van:
-The ability to take advantage of one of the many privileges evolution has given us like being able to stand erect! Nothing makes a living space feel smaller than walking about like a hunchback.
-A blank slate. I know I have mentioned this before but being able to tailor the space to your exact needs is huge.
-Length. Am I right, ladies? All kidding aside, my van has a 158″ wheel base and a 21ish’ length overall, lots of space for customization. For example I have a queen size bed in the back plus room for a “couch” and dining/kitchen area.
-Accessibility. Sure, they make many other types of RV’s that are far more spacious, however, being able to navigate tight one lane dirt roads and have the ability to turn on a dime was important and where the length thing comes into play again.
-Gas mileage. I have been averaging about 24mpg on highways and 22-23mpg in town. Plus it’s a diesel which sometimes proves to be cheaper than gas.
-Resources. There is no shortage of information about Sprinters out there. Whether it be specifically about conversions or just having weird engine troubles Sprinter Source has it all.
But then of course the Sprinter van has its drawbacks:
-Not 4WD. They are supposed to be coming out with a line of AWD Sprinters in the States in 2015. The Euros have been enjoying these for years now, why do they get all the cool stuff??
-Corners. There literally is no such thing as a perfect corner or a straight line in the van, especially in the 2006 and older models.
-Height. I definitely won’t be parking in any garages and drive throughs are a no go. But hey, I shouldn’t be eating fast food anyway.
-Inexperience. Which isn’t a problem for all but certainly is for me. If you don’t know what you’re doing you will learn the hard way. I’ve proven that time and time again. For example, I once went through 3 drill bits when trying to put holes in my roof for my vent before realizing the drill was in reverse. Oopsiessss!
When I bought this beast I knew I was signing on to a big project but nothing could have prepared me for the amount of work and money that would go in to it. None of which I regret, but I can definitely tell you that my blood, sweat, tears, and spilt beers have literally gone into this van and I could not be happier with my decision.