QUEST FOR A NEW CAMPERVAN: Getting Harder to Find Good Vans

We are getting closer now to buying the base vehicle for our next campervan and Barry, our van-hunter extraordinaire, asked us if it was important to have air con in our van. Just thinking about camping in the extreme hot weather that we had recently means the answer was a big “Yes” but getting air con is not always so easy. In fact finding a good van these days at all is not so easy …

Many panel vans tend to be workhorses – designed for plumbers and builders to carry their materials and tools – so are not built with a ‘comfort spec’ i.e. all the little luxuries that make them nicer for humans to be in like air con, electric windows. However, if you are buying a crew van or a minibus/people carrier you tend to get ‘comfort spec’ as standard.

Frankly, I can live without electric windows (is it really that hard to turn a handle?) and apparently you can buy electric kits to fit to the window if you really need that (see Amazon and eBay), but live without air con – oh no.

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A few weeks ago, Glyn and I were travelling down to Devon and the M5 was still very busy even at 10 o clock at night. It was a humid night and when we stopped at the services it felt a bit like a big party as there were lots of happy people walking around in shorts and flip-flops having a great time. But, sitting in the traffic on that hot night made me realise that air con is essential even if we do have to wait a bit longer to get a van that has it.

Barry, the van-hunter, says that getting a van with air con is getting harder and harder now especially if you are on a tight budget like us. He says that there are 2 other keys factors affecting the availability of second-hand vans now too: Brexit and the Debt Bubble.

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Brexit: Apparently many of the good vans (that haven’t been thrashed and have been looked after properly with service history) are ex-fleet vans from large companies like BT or the Police force. Because of the uncertainty of Brexit, many companies are not renewing their fleets as normal and so fresh vans are not being released on to the second-hand market. As you can imagine, availability goes down and prices go up.  Of course, once Brexit is sorted out (don’t hold your breath) this could mean that, in time, there might be a lot of vans suddenly released on to the market but this is not likely to happen in the near future. Trust us to be looking for a van to convert just when Brexit is causing chaos!

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The Debt Bubble: The government has lately expressed concern over the amount of debt growing in society and the ability of people to pay back their loans/credit. They now require lenders to hold bigger reserves to cover defaulters so lenders are now making it harder for people to get credit whether that is for a house or a van. And this is likely to get tighter. Therefore, it is getting harder for people to get finance for new cars so they are not selling their older cars on to the second-hand market which is again decreasing the availability of good second-hand vehicles.

However, we think that Barry has now found a van for us, in fact he has found two – a white Renault Trafic and red Vauxhall Vivaro which we are going to see. We quite like the sound of the red Vivaro as it has a 2.5 litre engine which is quite unusual for these vans. Not only is it more powerful, it can also be more economical as you don’t have to push it so much. Watch this space!

Barry and Jane Winterton are a husband and wife team who run Vantastic Van Sales, a small company based in Buckinghamshire that specialises in selling second-hand Vauxhall Vivaros and Renault Trafics. Jane has a natural instinct for spotting a good van and Barry is an ex-mechanic so he makes sure that all the vans are checked and are sound before they are sold on. Tel: 07513 107533

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