Buying a camper for the first time, any recomendations?

Ozmosis

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Jan 8, 2018
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Hi, I'm new so be nice :D
So I've driven for a little white and I'm starting to look at camper vans at the moment. A few people have suggested I look at Mazda Bongo's and I've seen some really nice looking vans, but I also read somewhere else that they guzzle fuel. In that post I read that the VW T4 has really good mpg. one chap said he got 40-45 if he drove sensibly.

My budget is about 6-8000, with that in mind, can anybody reccomend something?
I'm going to be travelling around europe with another person, and I want to be able to take more people, so anything with more legal seats is a plus, but not imperative. What's really important is mpg. also I was wondering if certain things are cheaper to insure, becuase that would be nice :D
I also hearthe japanese and German models are more reliable, so I've been looking at those, but really I don't know where to start. I'm sure some of the old hands have noticed what's important and what isn't, so if anyone can reccomend makes and models, just to give me a starting point that would be lovely.
Thanks a lot
Oz
 
Oct 2, 2008
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Mazda Bongo can be good VFM esp if grey import , ran one in Australia for awhile electric everything , even window blinds , auto gearbox 4wd , but earlier models are a bit narrow. Ride not up to euro standards . HTSH
 
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jollyrodger

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Good luck and w2f with a forum name like that I wouldn't be looking at fiberglass jobbies :D
A few in the classified section on here ,but think you have to be a fully paid up member for that ,not sure though .

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EX51SSS

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Ozmosis

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Mazda Bongo can be good VFM esp if grey import , ran one in Australia for awhile electric everything , even window blinds , auto gearbox 4wd , but earlier models are a bit narrow. Ride not up to euro standards . HTSH
I like the sound of the Bongos, it's just the fuel economy that i've heard is a bit rubbish. Also, the majority are a little out of my price range

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old-mo

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Think you will find you will be cussing and falling over each other if there are two of you...

And because of the lift up roof configuration they can get chilly, especially if you intend to tour through the winter, here or Europe...

Friend of mine had one, nicely put to together with an electric lift up roof and mostly electric every thing.. went abroad for part of the winter and came back and sold it..

Not enough room... not enough storage space ,,, and chilly..
 
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Aug 2, 2017
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Its worth looking and reading the various camper van and motorhome forums and you will quickly learn that the Mazda Bongo's are not the first choice for other than a weekend away.

I'd be looking for a well cared for VW with that budget.
 
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Jul 13, 2017
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I looked at a mate's T4 conversion before getting my Bongo and there's not a lot in it in terms of interior space. Bongos come with side or rear conversions, tin top (bongolow!!) or pop-top (AFT). On the mechanical side you do have to keep an eye on the cooling system as they're mid-engined, but are auto with separate front and rear air-con, something no VW offers. Mine is the smaller 2.0L petrol engine; I get around 30mpg which I'm very happy with. Admittedly I get about 20mpg from my daily driver :)
I've spent 28 days away in it since getting the van converted in July 2017, including two 8 day trips to Scotland (Loch Ness Shores C&CC site) and the West Country. It's me plus large dog and I do have a 3m square awning for changing, toilet facilities, storage etc.
Excluding servicing the van owes me about £5,000 including the base vehicle - an ebay trade purchase - and a professional conversion. It's recommended that servicing is entrusted to specialists as some jobs can be tricky, but because the vans don't have a cult following specialist labour rates are reasonable and they are all enthusiastic about the vehicle.
Within your budget most VW's will be rusty or knackered :(

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Northernraider

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You'll not go wrong with a t4 based camper ...you should be able to get one for your budget at this time of year

I've had several they are good vans

Never had a bongo so can't help there
 
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Aug 26, 2008
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I looked at a mate's T4 conversion before getting my Bongo and there's not a lot in it in terms of interior space. Bongos come with side or rear conversions, tin top (bongolow!!) or pop-top (AFT). On the mechanical side you do have to keep an eye on the cooling system as they're mid-engined, but are auto with separate front and rear air-con, something no VW offers. Mine is the smaller 2.0L petrol engine; I get around 30mpg which I'm very happy with. Admittedly I get about 20mpg from my daily driver :)
I've spent 28 days away in it since getting the van converted in July 2017, including two 8 day trips to Scotland (Loch Ness Shores C&CC site) and the West Country. It's me plus large dog and I do have a 3m square awning for changing, toilet facilities, storage etc.
Excluding servicing the van owes me about £5,000 including the base vehicle - an ebay trade purchase - and a professional conversion. It's recommended that servicing is entrusted to specialists as some jobs can be tricky, but because the vans don't have a cult following specialist labour rates are reasonable and they are all enthusiastic about the vehicle.
Within your budget most VW's will be rusty or knackered :(

Most of that I would agree with, except that the T4 Westfalia California I owned did in fact have separate fan and temperature controls for the heater / AC outlet for rear passengers. That is because it is based on a T4 Caravelle vehicle, not the Van or Kombi used by other converters. Mine was also an Automatic 2.5 TDi and typically did 38-40 mpg. Westys are sought after and hold their value extremely well if well cared for so if you can afford a bigger budget they make financial sense because depreciation is so low.
 
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Jan 27, 2018
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Hi
I'm a nube here as well but I've Owned a Bongo for 5 years now.
Iv'e a 4wd 2.5TDi AFT.
Advantages
1" narrower and shorter than my old A6 so you can park easily in std car park spaces
4WD never been stuck in a field even when 4 DuBs parked 20foot from the Gate.
Auto box a dream to drive up welsh mountain single track roads
Electric everything, including the Blinds, roof etc
Compact but still can configure as 4 sleeping and 5 seatbelts (or 2 belts plus 3 sitting rearwards)
mine a 97 so cheap Tax (pre the sillyness)
The Bongo forum. A grey import with an amazing knowledge base.
Not just for weekends, I have configurations from A fiamma side awning to rack mounted rear awning to a 6M blowup awing and Trailer even towed a folding camper.

Disadvantages
25mpg
Cooling system if not properly mantained or monitored
same as advantage its compact. Need to rationalize and pack well, 5S a placed for everything and everything in its place
Only used easter to october but diesel heaters are available (not cheap)

I wonder how much I'm going to regret getting rid of it (if i do) when I pick up/ use my new Rapido 604ff.
The Bongo Changed my life for the better, just hope there are a few more advantages than just a bit more space and more agravation parking. Sorry for the long post

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Bertie Bus

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Not sure where you are located but down here in Cornwall there is a dealer near Newquay that sells all sorts of conversions based on the Toyota Alphard and Mazda Bongo. His vans are in mint condition (all Japanese imports) and sell from around £8000 upwards.
 
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I got a campervan for the first time a year ago. Originally I was going for a T4/5, but it seemed to be too much of a compromise on space (that and VWs seem to be silly money for what you get). Instead I've got a 5.4m Ducato that's been converted to a camper. It's just about short enough to squeeze into a standard supermarket parking space. The width is slightly more than a VW, but enough that it's got a permanent transverse bed at the back which makes a massive difference to the use of space (with loads of storage underneath). No pop-roof means it stays warm - I was camping for a week in late November and used it a couple of nights over Xmas with no issues. I've had about 35mpg around the Highlands, so reasonably efficient. I've taken it into several city centres and finding parking isn't too stressful. The only issue I have is the height. At 2.6m (with the aerial, solar and roof vents), that means no multi-storey car parks and lots of council car parks have 2.0m barriers on.
 
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