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Old 10-17-2017, 05:24 AM   #1
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Default Class B Minus? Class D (Dwarf, Diminutive?))

After 20 years in VW Westfalias, my wife and I are ready to make the move to a modern vehicle for our van camping. Adequate power, good AC, safety features, more reliable, better MPG. However, we live in an older neighborhood with narrow streets and driveways, we like to use our van as a second car, and we enjoy urban touring as well as campgrounds and national parks. So we want a smallish vehicle.

We've finally given up on retrofitting our Westy, so for several years we've been looking at van alternatives. We've learned to live comfortably in the smaller space of the Westy. I had hoped the new "Euro" vans (Transit, Promaster, Sprinter) would be smaller, but they are still too long, typically 18' and up, and too wide for city driving. The new "small" vans (Transit Connect, Nissan 200, Dodge Promaster City) are just too small.

A recent trip to California in a Dodge Caravan was an eye-opener. 26MPG at 70MPH, good AC, quiet, very good handling, very manueverable, and just enough room inside that we could make it work. Lots of used models out there to choose from. So we're researching "mini" vans as a platform. Dodge Caravan, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Mercedes Metris. This size is what I would call a "B Minus" or "Class D". Certainly not for everyone, but I think might be just right for us.

The only company doing complete conversions on this size vans that we've found is GTRV of California. They convert Siennas and Metris, complete with a pop-top, water system, frig, stove, sink, portapotty, etc. The Metris is a nice size, but is new, so no stock of less-expensive used available, and Mercedes service is expensive and hard to find. It also has terrible ground clearance, only about 4 inches.

Among the other candidates, the Sienna seems the best choice: lots of used units out there, most ground clearance at 6.5", AWD available, smallest turning radius (37'), largest cargo volume, step-in height of only 16". Overall size is 200" L by 78" wide by 69" high.

Several tops are available for the Sienna. I think GTRV will do the top only, either tilt (V) or pop-up (T). Fiberine.com (California) makes a 12" raised top. Reimo.com (German) makes several "Mushroom" pop-up roofs, about 40" square and 18" high, complete with screened windows, that can be added to any van.

What are your thoughts? Has anyone done this DIY? Any other companies doing conversions on this size? Any other roof options?

Larry B
Portland, Oregon
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Old 10-17-2017, 06:42 AM   #2
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.

How about a Class c ?
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:11 PM   #3
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Safari Condo in Quebec, Canada also builds on the GM Savana/Express.

Recreational vehicles (RV) and Motorhomes | Ram ProMaster - Mercedes Sprinter - GM Savana/Express

We have members here who are from the US and had Promaster/MB units made. Not sure about the GM units.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:36 PM   #4
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Sportsmobile will build on a Metris.

https://sportsmobile.com/mercedes-metris/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=WvcyBQwzh1Y
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Old 10-17-2017, 02:30 PM   #5
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Recently GAH posted the URL for this cool mini-van based unit:

Maxvan Mini RV:
https://youtu.be/WmW3IVylmGU
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:57 PM   #6
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Default Small Class B

Welcome. Lots of great information here. If I were in your position, I would get a vintage Toyota Chinook. Small on Size. Big on performance. Toyota is a very reliable product. Plus, this is already a camper, built on a truck chassis.... you could go broke outfitting a minivan, and possibly overload a vehicle not designed for what you add-on.
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:29 AM   #7
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You can do a Google search for dodge caravan camper conversion and find all kinds of info and a few videos. Interesting stuff, but I want more creature comforts.
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:34 AM   #8
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Advanced RV is going to debut a conversion on the Mercedes Metris. It will have a pop top. I have no other information on what it's spec list will be, but I can speculate that it would be very similar to your Westy, but maybe with some higher tech electrical.

Very excited to see this when they are done.
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Old 10-18-2017, 05:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wincrasher View Post
Advanced RV is going to debut a conversion on the Mercedes Metris. It will have a pop top. I have no other information on what it's spec list will be, but I can speculate that it would be very similar to your Westy, but maybe with some higher tech electrical.

Very excited to see this when they are done.
I hope ARV folks will aim right for the Westy crowd, very doubtful if an electrical or red LED portable patty lighting extravaganzas would be in demand, at least it wouldn’t be for me. Good DC fridge, some heating, some water would be good.
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I hope ARV folks will aim right for the Westy crowd,

Only if the Westy crowd is now comfortable in the high rent district. I would be shocked if the price isn't way into 6 figures and above most other Class B's.
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