Yeap, you read that right! We bought an ambulance, which we will gradually transform into CampyToo, a campervan that will fit the 5 of us.
It may seem utter madness to jump into such a purchase when we are about to move country, but there is method to my madness, I promise:
We’ve had Campy, our fabulous caravan, for 18 months now. The freedom she has given us, the ability to go off on an adventure at the drop of a hat, knowing we don’t have to worry about accommodation has been truly liberating. She is an awesome design with an incredible use of space, real credit to Dethleffs.
Over the past 18 months I’ve loved camping on the 2nd of January in the New Forest all snug and warm, loved heading off across Europe this past summer not knowing where we’ll end up- Croatia or Hungary. (It was Hungary in the end.)
I have not loved doodling along the motorways at 50mph, however.
When we tested the Katamarano in Easter holidays we really enjoyed camping in a motorhome. This trip proved to us that we are natural tourers, preferring not to stay in one place, but hopping from one to the next, exploring along the way. We all appreciated having everything at our fingertips, setting off, while still finishing off breakfast or not having to stop when a child needed the loo. The changeable Scottish weather showed us the value of a motorhome: Soaked, we’d come into the vehicle, dumped our wet gear, muddy boots by the door and were ready to have a quick cup of hot chocolate before heading on. Our coats and shoes, hanging by the rear heating would be more or less dry by the time we stopped at our next stop.
Driving in the Katamarano was fabulous: I really enjoyed sitting up high, having a view over the road barriers. I loved looking out, but looking at the motorhome, the Katamarano and I just didn’t gel. I don’t like the big bulb on top.
Over the years I’ve looked and looked for a panel van (you know the white van man’s sort) converted to a campervan that would fit 5- 6 belted seats. There are none. The companies in the leisure vehicle segment seem very conservative. The panel van conversions are generally geared for 2 people, a very few at 4. Not only do they not fit our family, they are very expensive too; starting at £25,000.
So the choice was, stick with Campy, bumbling on the motorways, go for a large motorhome with the big bulb on top or convert our own van.
After lots of searching and researching we’ve decided to bite the bullet and buy a van for conversion. We bought a retiring ambulance.
Why an ambulance?
CampyToo is a Peugeot, a vehicle often used as a base vehicle for motorhomes and campervans. The engines are heralded for their reliability. The chassis is slightly wider than some other makes, like the Renault or Mercedes. Having been a PSV (public service vehicle) it has been serviced and maintained regularly- every 4-6 weeks in fact. I’m trusting the mileage is genuine for it’s 6 years and the engine (which has been restricted to 65mph) will run for many- many more miles without a hitch.
CampyToo used to be a patient transport vehicle, not really a rapid response vehicle. It even had no sirens.
However, what it does have are some seats, internal lining, lighting and overhead cupboards. The vehicle also has a wheelchair ramp. This will be an interesting part of the project: will we use it? If so, how.
There is a skylight already installed and most importantly, compared to other panel vans, there are windows all around too. This saves me having to cut these into the van myself.
It seems a relatively “easy” conversion. (Hahaha… I hear you laugh.)
As for the timing: We are moving to Sweden in a couple of weeks’ time. I have removers booked for next Monday, but I dithered so much on what to take, what not to take, I ended up booking just the bare minimum of a couple of pieces of furniture and some boxes. Over the past weeks it’s become blatantly obvious that this will never be enough! The removers, however, are fully booked now till into the New Year. So CampyToo will first help us move some of our belongings, before I embark on the full conversion.
We are awaiting delivery of CampyToo in the next few hours and I am slightly nervous, for it’ll be the first time we see her… you see, another mad act was that we bought her unseen, over the phone at an auction…but that’s the another story.
In the meantime, I’m procrastinating packing by loosing myself on Pinterest and RV and campervan forums; I’m trying to figure out layouts and legal aspects.
If you know of any good resources, do let me know!
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