Judging by the reactions of some of the younger members of my extended family when we gathered at the weekend, for the baptism of my new granddaughter, they were clearly unaware of the wonders of the modern campervan. If the many exclamations of “Wow!” and “How cool is that!” were any guide, my brief guided tour of the van changed all that. So for those who are curious about campervans, and my recently acquired Volkswagen T4 in particular, here are a few of my early thoughts together with a selection of photos.
First of all, regardless of the comments that follow, I must say that driving this van is sheer fun. This is helped by great visibility from the high seating position (enhanced by big, clear side mirrors), by the lightness of the controls and by the very comfortable seat. Having driven a small and very light car for the past year, it was inevitable that my first impression of the VW concerned the size of the beastie but though it feels very much firmly in touch with the road it doesn’t feel heavy. I have no idea what its actual weight is (if anyone knows, please tell) but although the engine is the 1.9 litre turbo diesel (rather than the 2.5 litre) it is not sluggish.
The actual dimensions of the van are as follows (approximately):
Overall length = 15’5.5″ (4707mm)
Overall height = 6’6″ (1975mm)
Total width = 6’0.5″ + mirrors = 7’2″ (2175mm)
The one thing that makes me smile every time I climb into the van is the great view from the front seats. In the picture above I am stationary at traffic lights and fairly close to the car in front but the height of my seating position enables me to see over the top of cars at least – I haven’t been able to experience this for many a year. Reversing in tight spaces is greatly helped by the side mirrors but because the rear window is quite high I cannot see what is directly behind the van Obviously this could be dangerous, so I have added a bleeper already as a warning to pedestrians and await delivery of a reversing camera and monitor. Fitting these could be a challenge.
Here is a brief tour of the van, with more to follow in a later post. The “kitchen” shown above includes a fridge with a small cupboard above for cutlery etc., a sink with pumped water, a two-ring gas cooker and a sliding window for ventilation while cooking. The large cupboard (centre) contains pans and crockery and the water supply. On the front of this cupboard is the support rail for the folding table which stows away behind the driver’s seat when not wanted. Behind the storage net another cupboard (with its lid on top) provides plenty of storage above a false floor under which lives the domestic battery.
The fridge is very neat with a small freezer compartment.
The van has two batteries, both charged by the alternator when the engine is running. One performs the usual functions for the engine, and the motoring equipment (instruments, lights, indicators etc., and the other supplies domestic requirements. The batteries are monitored by the Zig unit shown above.
The van can be “hooked up” to the mains electricity supply where campsites offer this facility. This involves a totally separate circuit of course and a long external cable with special weatherproof connectors.
The tap (fed by an electric pump) folds down when not wanted, as do the two smoked glass covers.
Behind the Zig unit is a wardrobe and under it another (ventilated) cupboard containing the gas bottle. There is a further full-width seat facing backwards behind the one you see here. This is useful storage space when travelling or it makes a good vantage point from which to admire the scenery when the back of the van is open. There is plenty more storage space under the seats. The spare wheel is carried under the van. The seats can be released from the seating position and pulled forward so that they fold flat to make a double bed.
The van has an elevating roof which provides sleeping space for two children, or the “upstairs bed” can be raised with the roof to provide more headroom when cooking etc. The black object at the top of the above picture is a drop-down TV/DVD player.
Lots of bits and pieces have been bought, or dragged out of storage at home, to equip the van for touring and the prospect is exciting, especially as we owned campervans years ago and know how much fun it can be. There’s more to tell but I will await a nice sunny day for an opportunity to take exterior photos.