If you want a real van, customise it
August 31, 2017 at 8:00 PM
It’s amazing what you can do to a van so that it accurately represents its owner. Lots of van enthusiasts start with practical van accessories – spoilers, roof bars and crossbars, bike and surfboard racks, tinted windows. So the van looks great and stylish – but how to put more individuality into it? That’s when people really start to set their imagination free, and achieve the exact look, inside and out that says who they are. Here are our favourite examples of customised vans.
Let's start with a Toyota Hiace.
These reliable chug-a-longs which used to be a standard feature on the school run are getting customised and turbocharged to within an inch of their life; van modifications and then some. One Australian owner has fitted a small block V8 engine into his and it now does a quarter of a mile in 8.9 seconds, travelling at 154 mph. To stop the engine overheating, it has an intercooler which uses dry ice.
Commercial vans get the treatment too
One VW owner has put an engine from a Subaru Impreza into a VW T25. The result of this interesting liaison is a super-fast van that can still work as a van. Ironically, the man that owns this one has a bike shop, so uses this extremely fast van to move the bikes around.
If you’re not that bothered about speed but want a really standout van customisation, take a look online at the lowest Volkwagen bus in the world. Designed by two Brits, it looks like a cross between a sandwich and a kid’s pedal car but it’s a fully functioning van - it's even got an electric sunroof (they call it the VanCake).
If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, one of the great entertainments is the 'Tour caravan' which features over 150 floats specially adapted by advertisers - including many completely ridiculous van modifications. Preceding the Tour peloto, the caravan includes vans customised to look like doughnuts, hamburgers, globes and the rest of it. So the fact that you use your van for business needn’t inhibit you.
Luxury fit-outs – but is it a bit corporate?
Some Mercedes Sprinter owners can’t rest until they’ve remodelled the interior with the most expensive van accessories they can find. Deluxe leather armchairs, satellite TV, champagne bar, mood lighting, the lot. These conversions are said to be popular with bankers, and to be honest, despite the luxury, they frequently look a teeny bit corporate. What's more interesting is how often they choose beige for the furnishings. You can’t help thinking that people desperate to make their van look like a five-star hotel may have just slightly missed the point of owning a campervan.
Bongo owners – eccentric as ever
When it comes to the quirkier vans, Mazda Bongo owners are, as a group, madder than a box of frogs. They’re particularly fond of wraps – you buy a used van and get the entire vehicle wrapped in a vinyl sheet featuring – well, anything that won’t get you arrested - union jack, bubbles, camouflage, polka dots, hippy daisies – whatever you fancy. At under a thousand pounds, it’s a somewhat cheaper way to express your individuality than remodelling the interior to look like Airforce One.
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