The day has come! You’re perusing used car lots, endlessly scrolling through Craigslist or thinking of putting a bid on Ebay. There’s plenty of market places to purchase your home on wheels, but before you buy you need to know what van is going to fit your lifestyle best. When we decided to buy a van we were never dead set on one type or model so we researched them all. We thought we’d put together an impromptu van buyers guide and share our findings during pre purchase research and have continued to find throughout our time traveling and sharing beers with other van folk!
Now we suspect if you are reading this post you are somewhat familiar with the options when it comes to choosing your new adventure mobile. And although there are endless options of vehicles that you can live in, priced from $100 t0 $100,000 this post is focusing on three of the most popular vehicles. Well maybe two of the most popular and then the one we live in. Why else would we be writing this article if we didn’t include our creeper van!?
The van buyers guide starts with what most would say is the classic all time dirtbag mode of transportation. THEE VW. Now there are three different models, Bus, Vanagon, and Eurovan but all three basically offer the same pros and cons so we are going to classify them into one group.
Pros of the VW Van
VW vans have been around since the 70’s which means the community is the most tight nit and loyal group in the van life family. There are plenty of knowledgable mechanics across the US and internationally. Since they have been around for 40 years almost everyone and their Grandma’s have a story about a VW and they are usually fond memories. Which means if you are planning on a social media campaign you will instantly gain a multi generational following.
Cons of the VW Van
They are CLASSICS which means they’re OLD! You can most likely count on numerous break downs during extended road trips. VW’s are notorious for finicky engines and german engineering that costs a pretty penny to get worked on. The interior layout is well thought out but very crammed and if you don’t have the pop top then it becomes down right claustrophobic.
Who’s the VW for?
If you are a fan of the vintage dirtbag image and are handy with a set of wrenches then you fit the Volkswagen requirements. The VW will come with its fair share of baggage but with a solid community standing behind it you will never run out of cheerleaders. Oh yeah, being short and skinny also helps.
Next up in the van buyers guide is the International/Dodge/Mercedez Benz Sprinter. Again another van with three different models but all in the same style just with a different badge slapped on the grill. These vans have become very popular as of late and since they are the new face of the #vanlife revolution we had to include them in the van buyers guide.
Pros of the Sprinter
The image of vanlife in a Sprinter makes it incredibly glamorous looking which in turn attracts a lot of attention. Both in real life and on social media. These vans are very very spacious. Most Sprinters come with a high top roof and long wheel base which means endless possibilities for a custom build out. Oh and don’t forget the newly released 4×4 for all you offroaders. But what the sprinter is most famous for is the back doors. They swing wide open from floor to roof and leave the occupants with an amazing view of the back yard.
Cons of the Sprinter
It is the most expensive sardine can you will ever buy. And after the initial investment you still have to build the entire thing out! From stage 1 insulation all the way to stage 100 installing the mexican blanket headliner. If you can find one for a reasonable price expect high miles, some mechanical issues and slightly rusted out quarter panels. Sprinter mechanics for the Bluetec Diesel are few and far between with high hourly rates. If van carpentry isn’t your fortay don’t worry, there are plenty of companies who will do a custom build for you. Be warned, the price tag they charge can get astronomical really fast!
Who’s the Sprinter for?
If you are a do it yourselfer then look no further because you will learn all the trades from electrical to carpentry and everything in between. If social media and public image is high on your list then the Sprinter should be your number one choice since it is everyone’s dream rig. This is also the van of choice for couples, families and crazy cat ladies because there is room for everyone!
Last but not least in the van buyers guide is the Creepy Class B Vans aka BEST VAN EVER. No just kidding we are going to be completely unbiased here. Wink wink!
Creepy Class B Pros
They come completely built out, most with bathroom and kitchen setups. This means you can pick one up for cheap and hit the road right away. Almost all are built on domestic model vans, like Ford, Dodge or Chevy so mechanics are plentiful and usually the most affordable. Class B’s don’t draw a lot of attention which is in the pro column because you don’t have to worry about anyone trying to break in and steal your DSLR camera that cost more than the van!
Creepy Class B Cons
Creeper vans have a little tougher time gaining a social media following for obvious creeper van reasons. They aren’t the most stylish and the generic company build outs can be pretty tacky. Class B’s have been around almost as long as the VW which means there are a lot of Class B’s on the road. And most fall into the category of being Lemons. Lemons meaning pieces of shit.
Who’s the Creepy Class B for?
Obviously if you’re a single, 50 year old man who likes to cruise slowly by schools with a bag full of candy you can’t go wrong with a Class B! HAAAHAA!! but seriously if you are looking to jump into van life right away or don’t fancy yourself as a Bob the Builder then the Class B is your weapon of choice. Class B’s work well with someone on a shoe string budget and a designer eye because with a few well placed throw pillows you will hardly notice all the shag carpet!
A van buyers guide should declare a winner right? Well we can’t tell you which van is the classiest, which van is waaaay overrated and which van will supply the best adventures. (COUGH COUGH) Becuase they’re all unique in their own way and in the end you can’t go wrong. But if you don’t join our Classy Creeper Van Club we will have to slash your tires! If you want a more in depth look at what it takes to completely remodel a Class B into your dream home on wheels head over to our Van Build page where we discuss all the dirty secrets!
What are some of your guys favorite all time home on wheels?
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