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Old 05-24-2015, 03:25 AM   #1
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Default Class B Micro Camper

Though most of this forum discusses full-sized class b van campers based upon the Sprinter or ProMaster, I'd like to switch topics a bit and discuss class b micro campers. I have somewhat different requirements than most people on this board who plan to boondock or take extended trips. I intend for the van to be a daily-use vehicle to shuttle the kids to school, to the mall, the zoo, and the like. As I live in Southern California, in an area with a high vehicle density, I would prefer a smaller, more nimble vehicle to a larger, more spacious one. A smaller class b van would make it easier to parallel park, and to fit into tight parking spaces.

Though I would like a bed in the van, I don't really foresee us sleeping overnight in the vehicle; the bed would likely be used for quick naps during our travels. The most important accessory in the micro camper, besides the bed, would be a small kitchen, because I'd like to stock the refrigerator with food and snacks for a long trip and prepare quick meals rather than eat out at fast food restaurants all the time; a small microwave would also be very useful in that regard.

A Westfalia-style camper with a pop-up would fit our requirements. Indeed, if the VW California built upon the VW T5 or T6 Transporter were available in the US, I would buy one without any further thought, as I think VW makes the optimum size vehicle for our purposes. While Pleasure-Way and Sportsmobile have built Westy-style campers, they generally use fairly large vans such as the Ford E-150, which I think is just a little too large for our needs. Between having a van which is a little larger than the VW T5, or one which is a little smaller, I would prefer the smaller van.

In my search for the closest thing to a VW T5, in which to build a small Westy, I have come across the following vehicles:

Ford Transit Connect LWB Wagon Ford Transit Connect LWB Van

wheelbase 120.6" 120.6"
length 189.7" 189.7"
width 72.2" 72.2"
height 72.0" 72.8"
cargo volume 104.2 cu ft 128.6 cu ft

Ram Promaster City (based on the Fiat Doblo Maxi)

wheelbase 122.4"
length 187.5"
width 72.1"
height 74.0"
cargo volume 131.7 cu ft

Nissan NV200

wheelbase 115.2"
length 186.2"
width 68.1"
height 73.5"
cargo volume 122.7 cu ft

Ram Promaster 1500 with 118 wheelbase

wheelbase 118"
length 195.0"
width 82.7"
height 90.0"
cargo volume (8000L) 282.5 cu ft

Sprinter 2500 with 118 wheelbase (no longer sold in US, though used models are available)

wheelbase 118"
length 192.5"
width 76.1"
height 93.1"
cargo volume 247 cu ft

As a comparison, here are the dimensions of a VW T5 Transporter

VW T5 Multivan

wheelbase 118.1"
length 192.6"
width 75.0"
height 78.5"
cargo volume (5800 L) 204.8 cu ft

In order of smallest to largest:

NV200 < Transit Connect LWB Van, Promaster City < VW T5 < Sprinter 2600 (118" wb) < Promaster 1500 (118" wb)

As I've mentioned, I would prefer a camper a little smaller rather than a little larger than a VW T5 Multivan (though a short Sprinter is very close in size, except for the higher roof line), so my search seems to be leaning towards the Promaster City or the Transit Connect LWB Van---or even the NV200 it it is not too cramped.

Of course, besides having the appropriate size and dimensions, good handling and maneuverability is also very important, especially when the van is weighted down with the required accessories. Does anyone have any experience with these vehicles as micro campers? Which van would you recommend?
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Old 05-24-2015, 04:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Sportsmobile will build you a Westy floorplan in a short low Promaster. I think that's your best bet. Colorado Camper Van will build on just about anything including mini vans but the Promaster will serve you the best for what you have expressed. The Sportsmobile modeled after the Westy is called the RB -50 floorplan. With or without poptop. I heartily recommend the poptop.
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

They aren't that common, but there is/was an upfitter that makes dodge caravan pop-up campers too.
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Maybe the Transit Connect based Edelweiss

http://www.campervannorthamerica.com/ca ... eiss.shtml
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruceper
They aren't that common, but there is/was an upfitter that makes dodge caravan pop-up campers too.
Are you thinking of GTRV? http://www.gtrv.com/

The website has an end date of 2010, so not sure if they are still in business. But they used to do Caravans or Siennas. I think that (or the little Transit Connect conversion linked to above) might be too small for sailorsoon's needs.

So, I clicked around on their link and found this that might be of interest:

http://gtrv.com/shop/2014-chevy-express-awd-westy/

Guess they are still working.
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

If you like the VW T5 campers you might consider the Mercedes Metris. It's the US version of the Mercedes Vito that competes with VW T5/T6 and Ford Transit Custom mid-sized cargo vans in Europe. At 206 inches it is a bit longer than the T5 but is the only mid-sized euro-van slated for US availability starting in October.

http://www.mbsprinterusa.com/future-models/metris

The Metris camper version is the Marco Polo, produced jointly by Mercedes and Westfalia with an internal layout similar to the VW T5 California camper:

https://www.mercedes-benz.com/en/mer...-heaven-video/

Mercedes isn't listing the Marco Polo on the US site so it may be a Europe only product. But it does show how a Metris conversion could be configured.

One issue with the Metris and all those micro-vans is they're urban designed vehicles with low ground clearance. If your camping plans include unpaved campsites in National Forest or BLM lands then the full cargo chassis of a Sprinter or Promaster would be much better suited.

Overall I tend to agree with STANW909 that a short Promaster would be the most versatile of currently available vehicles.
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Thanks for all the replies above, especially for the recommendation for the Sportsmobile short Promaster conversion. Looking at their page,

http://www.sportsmobile.com/promaster-van-info/

I notice that the smallest Promaster that they convert is the Promaster 1500 with the 136" wheelbase rather than the 118" wheelbase. The 136" wheelbase Promaster 1500 is quite a bit longer at 213.1", which may be a little more car than we'd like to drive. Perhaps Sportsmobile might be willing to perform a custom conversion for the smaller Promaster 1500 or the Promaster City. I'll check and find out.

Interestingly in Europe, there appears to be much more demand for in these micro campers than in the US. That may be understandable given their narrow streets and smaller living quarters. What I find impressive though is their craftsmanship. Here are some photos of their Westy-style conversions of the Nissan NV200, the smallest van that I would consider for a camper:

http://www.tfltruck.com/2014/08/we-need ... n-the-usa/

http://nv200forum.com/9-camper-vans-con ... rsion.html

They also seem to stock a much wider range of camper conversion cabinets than are available in the US, so that customers can tailor fit the conversion to their needs.

http://clearcutconversions.co.uk/produc ... ppliances/

Are there any van conversion companies in the US that can do this kind of work?

Finally, going back to the Promaster City, they also provide camper van conversions for its European cousin,the Fiat Doblo:

http://www.campervan.uk.com/fiat-doblo- ... only-9995/

If only I could get that in the US...
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

It seems Colorado Camper Van is your best option. Here is a completed one for sale: http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/sho ... hp?t=41658
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Old 05-25-2015, 08:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

My Sister had a Mini Class B built on a VW Transporter It has a 2 litre Diesel engine, very quiet
Discussion and photos I posted RV NET
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fusea ... 364134.cfm
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Trakka here does a similar Mini Van with VW a AWD version
http://assets.cougar.nineentertainment. ... akkadu.jpg
Interior
http://www.trakka.com.au/model_images/T ... rnal.4.jpg
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