Nick Harding

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Looking for VW campervans for sale? Read our expert's verdict on the 2016 Danbury Surf, a good-value elevating-roof camper based on the Volkswagen T6 SWB

Overview

The Danbury name goes nearly all the way back to the first generation of VW campervan makers here in the UK. The name of the subsequently defunct company was bought up and the people behind the current incarnation set about re-making its name by importing and converting VW T2 Transporters from Brazil.

Danbury’s manufacturing and retailing premises at Yate, near Bristol, represents something of a VW campervan heaven. You’ll see absolutely loads of campers of all ages here – mainly Danbury campers, of course, but pre-owned models from quite a few other Volkswagen camper specialist marques, too, going back over the years.

Design

So you think you can’t afford a camper based on the VW T6, the latest version of the Transporter, which was launched last year? Then look again, because this new Danbury Surf only just tops £40,000. There are reasons, of course. It’s the basic T30 version of the T6, with the outgoing 82bhp/84PS diesel engine, and five-speed manual transmission, for starters.

And, although it’s easy to be wowed by the Grape Yellow paintwork, note that the bumpers and mirrors are left in their original black finish, and the basic steel wheels are preferred.

Is any of this a deal-breaker, though? Here’s an all-new five-seater campervan that sleeps two people as standard. For an extra £599, you can have upper-level bed boards to make this into a four-berth for sleeping. That’s something that can be fitted at any time, so if you’re not sure initially, you can always hold back.

In the meantime, the extra standing room this gives you when it’s up – and it’s an easy action to raise and lower – is bonus enough.

Danbury is another converter that goes its own way with its own elevating roof and rear seat designs – for the latter, though, we do feel there’s a potential hazard with the possibility of catching your hand in the folding mechanism.

On the road

Danbury will, of course, happily let you upgrade away to your heart’s (or your budget’s) content with added options packs as well as many individual extras.

Cab air conditioning and rear parking sensors are the only options fitted to our test camper, putting the price up to £40,200.

You can choose whether to have two cab seats or a three-seater bench front seat and you can add a DSG automatic gearbox if you wish.

Lounging & dining

What you do get with the Surf is a traditional side furniture rear seat/bed arrangement, with the latter set further back than some to optimise floor space – the counterweight to this is there’s not a lot of luggage carrying space when you open the tailgate.

Kitchen

That offside furniture unit exemplifies how Danbury likes to do things a bit differently.

Its shape allows for a triangular sink, and there are some neat storage points, plus the cooker is a two-ring-plus grill LP Talisman unit. There’s also a nifty slide-out section just above the fridge that’s always going to be a handy ledge – whether for placing cuppas or when it comes to full meal preparations when you need any work surface you can get.

Sleeping

The rear seat pulls out to make a comfortable and generous enough 1.98m x 1.09m double bed. It's a Danbury design and has been fully safety tested.

Washroom

As is the case with most VW campers, there’s no washroom on board. Many owners will buy a portable toilet, so they can stay on low- as well as full-facility sites.

Equipment

With no dealer network, customers buy direct from Danbury. There’s a lot of flexibility in how the firm approaches its conversions, so be prepared to ask for exactly what you want.

Options fitted to our test unit comprised rear parking sensors (£245) and cab air conditioning (£960). Surf buyers can choose from the full complement of engine outputs (84, 102, 150 or 180 bhp, with 204 bhp available as a special order), as well as option packs and individual options. This also includes a choice of upholsteries.

Technical specs

LayoutCamper without washroom
Sleeps2
Travel seats5
MTPLM1939kg
Payload861kg
Length4.89m16′1″
Width1.9m6′3″
Height1.99m6′6″
Engine (capacity)2000
Engine (power)82
Fresh water51L
Leisure battery135 Ah
Gas bottle size7kg
Number of gas bottles1
External Options
Aluminium sidewalls
Kitchen Equipment
Waeco Compressor Fridge, 2-burner gas hob, Separate grill

Verdict

Although this is quite a basic VW campervan specification and features some rudimentary conversion work, the 2016 VW T6-based Danbury Surf is on sale for a low price, and it packs a grill as standard kit. Danbury is the emerging force in VW campers in the UK and does things its own way. It seems to have found a niche that it’s happy to keep growing.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Plenty of options available
  • Choice of upholstery designs
  • Choice of engines

Cons

  • Fairly basic conversion work
  • No toilet or washroom
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