Nigel Donnelly

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Our 'vans: Project Wilma’ written by Nigel Donnelly
   
See a VW campervan for sale and many may be tempted, but taking the plunge and taking on a project is another matter – meet the newest member of our fleet!

A chance sighting on holiday gave us the idea of buying a VW campervan. We were driving to Puttgarden in Germany to catch a ferry and about 10 miles from the port, we saw three VW campers in a row. 

Then we saw two or three more. Then we saw hundreds of them. They'd obviously been attending some sort of event, but it got us talking about whether we should be driving in a camper, rather than a little, cramped car and paying for B&Bs. The conversations continued during the holiday and once back in the UK, it extended to casual searches on eBay, Gumtree, PistonHeads and so on, looking at VW campervans for sale, wincing at the prices and wondering whether we could stretch to afford one. 

Then we saw Wilma. 

This is what the owner called her in her advert. Pricewise, she was some way shy of what we'd budgeted, but plainly, she was pretty secondhand. A picture of the side door showing a huge rusty chasm was particularly grim, while the spec listed a non-working fuel gauge among a host of other quirks which needed ironing out. Crucially, however, she was local, she had an MOT and she was an elevating roof model, rather than a high-top, which is what we were after. 

We made our way to see the 'van in south London on a warm Sunday morning, resolving not to let ourselves get swept along and end up buying something which was trouble. 

We broke all the rules. 

An hour later, we were having a coffee in a nearby cafe having paid a deposit on the first 'van we'd viewed. We paid just under £4500 for the 'van, which has a reconditioned engine (no small issue as they work hard hauling something this size around) and a recent fuel system rebuild and exhaust; common issues with T25s. 

Is it a good deal? Well, time will tell. It isn't a vast amount of money for a pop-top VW. The price was affected by the fact it's scruffy, needs tyres and it is left-hand drive. It was imported from Germany in 2001. The last owner has travelled all over Europe and the UK in her nine years of ownership.

Inside, it is a bit sad, and externally, there is plenty of cheering up to do. Ultimately though, it is solid and has an eight-month MOT. There is rust, but not rot, although work needs to begin quickly to stop the former developing into the latter. There is no leisure electrics, with all the electrics running through the main vehicle battery, but it has a proper Reimo conversion, mains electrics and an onboard water tank.

The first job to attend to is to clear out the clutter (the owner is emigrating so left everything she camped with in it), then to take it away for a few days to see what works. And what doesn't.

Wish us luck... 

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