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Old 05-24-2015, 04:25 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, 05:14 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, 07:12 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, 01:20 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, 04:04 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, 04:18 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, 08:22 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, 08:31 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, 09:58 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, 10:12 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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Old 05-30-2015, 12:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Class B Micro Camper

Quote:
Originally Posted by mumkin
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/
I found it! It was this one http://vanventures.ca/

I don't see their sales page any longer. They may just do rentals now. Heck I don't even know if they had someone else doing the conversions for them.
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:58 PM   #12
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Default RE: Class B Micro Camper

Don't forget Robert Morehead Design Labs. He builds on just about anything. His work looks great on line. I'm thinking about seeing him to upfit my 14 GC.
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:13 PM   #13
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Colorado camper vans is your best bet.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruceper View Post
I found it! It was this one http://vanventures.ca/

I don't see their sales page any longer. They may just do rentals now. Heck I don't even know if they had someone else doing the conversions for them.
Thanks for the tip about van ventures. I checked out their website, and noticed their Illusion Camper Van based on a Grand Caravan minivan. Their Westy style conversion is beautiful. They even have a youtube video of it:



Evidently, they not only rent, but also sell these camper vans (see video). I'm going to have to contact them.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:41 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrebyct View Post
Don't forget Robert Morehead Design Labs. He builds on just about anything. His work looks great on line. I'm thinking about seeing him to upfit my 14 GC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanw909 View Post
Colorado camper vans is your best bet.
Thanks. I'll check these out as well.
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Old 06-09-2015, 05:28 PM   #16
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Although it's a bit larger than your target size you might take a look at the Safari Condo MX-18 if you prefer euro-style interior layouts and cabinetry.

http://www.safaricondo.com/en/motorises_Promaster_MX

And you might inquire whether they're planning any conversions on smaller chassis such as the Metris or microvans. I believe Denis was the contact at Safari Condo when we were shopping for a small B-camper.
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Old 06-10-2015, 01:16 AM   #17
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Hi sailorsoon. 5mars RV in Quebec Canada do conversion on Dodge Caravan and on Promaster. Check on 5marsrv.com
Good luck.
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:53 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymtnb View Post
Although it's a bit larger than your target size you might take a look at the Safari Condo MX-18 if you prefer euro-style interior layouts and cabinetry.

http://www.safaricondo.com/en/motorises_Promaster_MX

And you might inquire whether they're planning any conversions on smaller chassis such as the Metris or microvans. I believe Denis was the contact at Safari Condo when we were shopping for a small B-camper.
Yeah, it's a bit larger than what I had in mind. I'd like for the vehicle to be 16' in length or smaller and 75" in width or smaller. I'll find out if they are willing to use smaller vans.
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:57 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yvan View Post
Hi sailorsoon. 5mars RV in Quebec Canada do conversion on Dodge Caravan and on Promaster. Check on 5marsrv.com
Good luck.
Yvan
Fantastic! So this is the company which built vanventures.ca's Illusion Camper Van out of the Dodge Grand Caravan. Their finish work is absolutely top-notch. They even have some older used conversion vans for sale. I'll have to check them out.
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:44 PM   #20
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Check out Morehead Design Labs (Robert Morehead) in North Carolina. When the Ford Transit Connect first came out he was also one of the first to convert it to an RV. He has done all kinds of creative van conversions. He used to attend the RV.net B Rallys and I've seen first hand a few of his conversions. I was kind of surprised he wasn't at the B12 Rally this spring in NC as I was hoping to see something new.

http://www.moreheaddesignlab.com/id4.html
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