In planning the upcoming conversion, one of the first issues I have to look at is insulation. While insulating an RV tends to be against heat loss and cold, more and more conversions nowadays incorporate some sort of soundproofing.
Very popular materials are Dynamat, Fatmat and the poor man’s Peel & Seal. Popularized with car audio installations, these products are finding their way into the RV business. High-end audio listeners appreciate the sound improvements these products can offer in passenger cars or trucks where they mainly dampen the redistribution of sound through vibration.
The three major brands have introduced their new European style Cargo Vans to the American market and I am finally ready to pick the best one that fits my requirements. Yet I may have to hold off for a little longer, as rumors persist of several new entries that may tease the American buyer.
As I wrote here before, the Hyundai H350 was introduced in 2014 to the European market and now it has been spotted, disguised and all, driving around in California. Other manufacturers, like Nissan with its NV400 Euro Van, would also like to grab a piece of Ford’s and GM’s market share. And the declining sales of the Chevy Express may force GM to quickly introduce its European Movano (based on the Renault Master).
Choice is always good, but these vans really lack much variety and for the untrained eye, they all very much look alike. Only a substantial price discount may attract buyers to these new models and that’s what we may get with the Hyundai H350.
New introductions do carry a risk; production problems will occur during the first few years and the lack dealer support has to be addressed too. Should I consider waiting….?
As I come closer to a final commitment to buy the new cargo van, I’ve narrowed my choices down to the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit. With the latter as top contender, I’m making my list of options for the new van.
It became clear very soon, that most if not all models on dealer’s lots have the standard white exterior color, so often used for work vans. With my RV conversion in mind, a custom exterior color is my first pick, which likely results in a factory order and an additional 8-10 week waiting period, yet it comes with the benefit of exactly getting the van you always wanted.
Some spend lavishly, some stick to a budget and some are handy, while others are born with two ‘left hands’. My goal is to spend little and add value by applying my skills (I learn, while I create). This not only keeps the total cost down, but adds a lot of satisfaction, when you can design and create according to your own wishes.
Narrowing down and researching the many options and many models of the current batch of cargo vans, has brought me to a more realistic comparison of the 3 most popular choices according to my personal preferences: Medium Roof and Long(er) Wheelbase.
Ram Promaster 136” WB – High Roof – MSRP $30515
Ford Transit 148” WB – Medium Roof – MSRP $32240
MB Sprinter 144” WB – Higher Roof – MSRP $38490
As a cheapskate, I look for low price and few options and then install affordable after-market products, that are chosen with my own requirements in mind. To get the biggest bang for my buck, I will sparingly add exterior options that will substantially enhance its appearance.
The Right Tools For The Job
Not every conversion is the same and that also applies to your tools and capabilities. A simple conversion with a bed from 2 x 4’s and a couple of store-bought cabinets, doesn’t require much more than a hammer and screwdriver.
A full-scale job, with a professional finish calls for a multitude of disciplines and often more than an average ability to solve the problems at hand. Frequently, you may decide to outsource part of the work.
Daniel Norris, the 21-year old Toronto Blue Jays pitcher from Johnson City, Tennessee is part of the “van living” movement and while he’s doing it only part-time, he enjoys every day of it.
During his annual journey from his home in Johnson City, to the Blue Jays spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida, he lives in his 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia van. The legendary van has only the basic upgrades and fits his no-frills lifestyle.
This is the second cargo van review in a series that focus on the 2015 Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit, MB Sprinter, Chevy Express and Nissan NV. It is part of the buying process of a new van, that will be converted into a nicely finished, one-person RV.
These reviews emphasis the elements of a van conversion, and are strictly my personal opinion and how that impacts on my conversion needs.