Why Do I Want To Convert a Sprinter Van?

Where do I start? Buckle up, this could be a long post.

I’m travelled – or certainly was well travelled – and I first came across the idea of more a overland style of travel some 30 years ago when I was travelling around South America. Back then obviously there was no internet, no YouTube, no voice or authority in van conversions.

When the internet blossomed, early sites that gained traction were the US government departments that sold ex army, police or state department vehicles. My dream started then with the concept of getting a huge mother of a military vehicle, getting it kitted out and then trundling down through Central America. Hindsight now tells me that, given the US foreign policy in their backyard, trundling through Latin America in a mauve green troop carrier might not have been prudent.

Then life happened – from the mid 90s to current date I have been a father first and foremost but also have adhered to the nonsense of work and the general treadmill that life is.

The desire to overland bubbled in the background and potentially faded until the last 5 years. That desperate need to convert a Sprinter van has consumed me over the last five years – borne from my obsession about watching YouTube video that covered small build, tiny living. earthship building, log cabin building, summer house dreams, renovation and a growing urge to do something constructive with my hands.

Why Specifically a Sprinter Van Conversion?

I’d like to eloquently speak about why a Mercedes Sprinter van is the best for conversion. I can’t.

My knowledge about all things motor, car, vehicle, put fuel in it and it works, is limited. Limited is too kind – it is non-existent.

It has to be a Sprinter for a few simple reasons:-

  • It’s German – must be good right?
  • Most of the YouTubers I follow seem to build Sprinters
  • I live on the belief that at 200,000 miles, a Sprinter is just warming up*
  • Just a warm, happy feeling that a Mercedes Sprinter will see me right**

* am I gullible?

** certainly a little fluffy

This is arguably my biggest stumbling block – money aside – my vehicle knowledge is so limited that I am scared that I may buy a complete lemon. I am very much at a decision paralysis stage in terms of the physical van itself. I’ve looked at the other options including:-

  • VW Crafter or other – I have this inbuilt snobbism that they just don’t hit the mark
  • LDVs – so much on forums about how easy they are to maintain and customise – seems a little too technical for me and too much internet chat about LDVs being a labour of love – aka polishing a turd
  • Fiats – again some inherent snobbism about Fix it Again Tonys

I’m sure I have some more founded grievances against anything non-Mercedes Sprinter – they will come.

On the positives, the main reason I want a Sprinter van conversion is that the two YouTubers that have influenced me most have converted Sprinters. The wealth of knowledge on the web on all things Sprinter van conversion is extensive.

Greg Virgoe is undoubtedly my leading influence, his attention to detail in his Sprinter conversion is second to none. Little bit concerned that on one of his maiden voyages he came across leaks – Greg relished the chance to get his tools out, mid-trip and sort things.

The Restoration Couple are also legends when it comes to Sprinter Van conversions. Videos and commentary are excellent and his patience when visited by little helpers is hugely admirable. My key takeaway video is where he adds Sikaflex to the ribs and panels to avoid rattling. Haven’t seen many others suggest this. I suspect that the couple may however be shorter than me as there are no corners cut when it comes to depth of the flooring.