CAMPER vans like the VW California were until recently “the dream” for most of us.
The only people who could afford them were hedge fund managers who got bored of taking Horatio and Jemima on holiday to the Maldives.
But with all that’s going on in the world, camper vans are starting to justify their price tags.
Let’s face it. We have all seen the iceberg.
Covid is here for the long haul.
We won’t be flying anywhere for a bit of sun this summer.
And we can’t book a B&B in the UK with any confidence either.
But what we can do after Lockdown v3 is jump in a camper van and wake up with a different view every morning.
On top of that, camper vans are small enough to live with every day, whether that’s shuttling the kids from A to B or doing the big shop at Asda.
And now some firms are reporting a spike in sales, with people buying a camper van for use as a home office.
Suddenly, £50k starts to make a bit more sense when you’ve got a daily driver, a mobile workspace, and lots of holidays all rolled into one.
Think Swiss Army knife on wheels.
But there is more to it than that.
The average family spends £5k a year on holidays.
That’s two trips away.
With a camper van, you could be on the road to somewhere new every Friday afternoon.
Trade in your family car and pay the rest on PCP.
Ford has deals from £334 a month.
Even better, buy used. Or rent one.
One of the many things that 2020 taught us is that we don’t need to waste money going abroad every year.
Because this beautiful island of ours is all the holiday you ever need: Bike trails, coastal walks, national parks, hidden history, jaw-dropping scenery.
Kids have no excuse to be bored.
All you need is a tank of fuel, a few tins of beans in the cupboard and there’s adventure waiting at the drop of a handbrake.
Last summer, I took my boys on a “park run” — Thorpe Park, West Midland Safari Park and Zip World in Snowdonia National Park.
All in our own bubble in a VW Grand California.
One night we slept in a lay-by on the A5.
Doesn’t sound much does it?
Except it was beside lake Llyn Ogwen, with epic mountain scenery all around us.
It was like waking up in the middle of a North Face catalogue.
No longer niche
The following night we stopped at Black Rock Sands and had breakfast on the beach.
I did a bit of work on the kitchen table while the boys made sand castles.
We’ll go back to Wales this year to climb Snowdon, when allowed.
Mark my words, camper vans are about to go through the same renaissance that pick-up trucks did a few years ago.
They will become popular “life- style choices” as more new models come out and prices drop.
The arrival of the Ford Transit Custom Nugget and the Vauxhall Vivaro Blighty prove this is no longer a niche market.
VW’s third camper van, the Caddy California, will be confirmed for the UK shortly, at around £33k.
It’s the baby bro to the legendary Transporter-based California costing £53k and the big-daddy Grand California at £73k.
The all-electric VW ID Buzz and ID Buzz Cargo hit the road next year and will be quickly followed by a camper van.
No tailpipe emissions and freedom in the fresh country air . . . e-California dreamin’.
VW Caddy California
THIS baby California is based on the VW Caddy, which is based on the VW Golf, so that’s a good start.
Sleeps two, plus two in the optional tent.
The Caddy’s fold-up bed is almost two metres long.
Other cool kit includes pull-out gas cooker and panoramic sunroof.
Yet to be officially confirmed for UK – but it’s definitely coming.
Expect prices from £33k.
THE Rolls-Royce of camper vans.
Expensive but cool.
Quality craftsmanship, built to last and admired wherever you go.
Sweet engine and gearbox combo.
Picnic chairs hidden neatly in tailgate.
VW started converting Californias in-house from 2005, so that’s your starting point if buying used.
Want one box-fresh?
Prices from £53k. Finance from £433 a month.
Take my money now.
VW Grand California
THE big-daddy California is based on the Crafter van and adds the all-important toilet and shower.
Cavernous roof bed with ladder, slick iPad-style control system, 70-litre fridge, Bluetooth speakers, automatic sliding door and step, LED strip lighting, lots of storage and an absolute doddle to drive.
You really could live in one of these – and at £73k you might have to.
Transit Custom Nugget
DAFT name, brilliant van.
The Ford Transit Custom Nugget is based on Britain’s best-selling van.
Powerful 2-litre turbo diesel up front, smart conversion by camper specialists Westfalia in the back.
Seats five, sleeps four, mini kitchen, outdoor shower, swivel chairs, all the gizmos you need – plus wifi for ten devices.
Prices from £50,600 inc VAT, or £334 a month if you can find £10k upfront.
The long wheelbase Nugget adds a loo and wash basin.
Made in Britain
BRITAIN’S cut-price California.
The Vauxhall Vivaro Blighty, as its name suggests, is built here – in Luton – with a fully approved camper conversion by Wellhouse Leisure in Barnsley.
Based on the high-spec Elite model with mini kitchen, folding bed and optional roof bed.
It’s even got fixing rings for a dog cage.
Prices from £46k.
The all-electric Blighty E is £60k.
Now colour one in and win
HERE we go again.
If you’re homeschooling the kids, hopefully this will help.
Print out and colour in this camper van and send a photo of your efforts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two “star pupils” – chosen at random – will win this £49.99 Playmobil T1 camping bus.
Entries by 6pm on January 11.
Thank you, Playmobil.
Another prize next week.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL email@example.com