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Old 01-26-2020, 12:15 PM   #1
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Default Want to build a van. Trying to decide on Ford or MB?

Hello gentlemen! I would like to build a custom van with 4 x 4 capability. The only two I am considering is the Ford transit or MB sprinter. I have no idea if the Ford transit is built as well as the sprinter. I read somewhere where the Ford transit in Europe is considered a throwaway van. Does anyone have any experience with the Ford transit? It would seem the Ford would be much easier and definitely cheaper to have serviced while traveling. The Ford transit would be about 20 K cheaper on the front end. However this would be a van I would probably keep for at least 10 years so I donít mind spending a little more to have a better product for the long-haul. Iím going to build it out similar to the Travato I have now. A full wet bath, kitchen etc. I want it a bit more catered to outdoor activities for off the grid rather than RV parks. Iíll keep my 2019 Travato until my custom is complete. I do love the Travato! Drives great and have had no issues for 20K miles. But itís not a 4x4 and more catered to RV parks. Figure itíll take a year to complete the project. Thoughts?
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:31 PM   #2
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George with his Humble Road series on Youtube modified a purchased Sprinter RV and then built Sprinter from scratch. Now he is working on a Ram Promaster and announced his next RV conversion will be on a Ford Transit. You might want to follow him. He could be the most thorough opinion on all three chassis with hands on insight.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE9...Lab9Fo05hs0Nsg
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:58 PM   #3
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George with his Humble Road series on Youtube modified a purchased Sprinter RV and then built Sprinter from scratch. Now he is working on a Ram Promaster and announced his next RV conversion will be on a Ford Transit. You might want to follow him. He could be the most thorough opinion on all three chassis with hands on insight.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE9...Lab9Fo05hs0Nsg


Cool thanks!
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Old 01-26-2020, 02:48 PM   #4
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How did you come up with a $20k savings on a Transit? They seem to price out at almost exactly the same price to me. Then there is the question as to which one is even available to purchase without a wait.
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Old 01-26-2020, 03:17 PM   #5
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I haven't fully-evaluated the Transit--haven't driven one yet. My guess is that I will conclude that it will not quite be up to the Sprinter in terms of comfort, fit-and-finish and attractiveness, but I doubt the difference will be a show-stopper. Nonetheless, I am pretty likely going to end up with a Transit next time around. I have absolutely committed to a gas engine--had enough of BlueTec. Given this, I think the Transit offerings are hard to beat. The AWD drivetrain is very attractive to me vis-a-vis the crude Mercedes 4WD setup.

I would miss the Sprinter classiness, though.
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:19 PM   #6
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How did you come up with a $20k savings on a Transit? They seem to price out at almost exactly the same price to me. Then there is the question as to which one is even available to purchase without a wait.


Priced it out online with the options that I want.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:03 PM   #7
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Explore the Transit forum
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:32 PM   #8
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What kind of 4x4 capability are you looking for: high clearance backcountry use or snow and ice highway duty?
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:16 PM   #9
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I haven't fully-evaluated the Transit--haven't driven one yet. My guess is that I will conclude that it will not quite be up to the Sprinter in terms of comfort, fit-and-finish and attractiveness, but I doubt the difference will be a show-stopper. Nonetheless, I am pretty likely going to end up with a Transit next time around. I have absolutely committed to a gas engine--had enough of BlueTec. Given this, I think the Transit offerings are hard to beat. The AWD drivetrain is very attractive to me vis-a-vis the crude Mercedes 4WD setup.

I would miss the Sprinter classiness, though.
aren't current sprinters available with gas engine?
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:32 PM   #10
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aren't current sprinters available with gas engine?
Yes, and I haven't ruled that out. However, (a) they are only available for the 2500, and (b) there is still the issue of scarce Sprinter dealer service centers in many parts of the country. I could live with both of these compromises, maybe. But they would have to be offset by major advantages, and right now I am not feeling it.

Plus, I covet that Transit AWD system.
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:10 PM   #11
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Priced it out online with the options that I want.
I paid about $50k for my Sprinter. I would love to know how I could get a Transit in AWD for $20k less. I would be interested to see your specs
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Old 01-28-2020, 11:19 AM   #12
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I paid about $50k for my Sprinter. I would love to know how I could get a Transit in AWD for $20k less. I would be interested to see your specs


The 4x4 sprinter I priced out was almost 65k. Transit was under 50k. Is your sprinter a 4x4? What wheelbase is it?
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Old 01-28-2020, 03:12 PM   #13
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On one of the recent Thor Sequence videos folks mentioned their starting point with all windows for their conversion. For 360 visibility it is indeed a better way, they donít have cut opening for windows in manufacturing process.

With my objective to have maximum visibility I agree, and I went one step further in my conversion, besides windows I chose a passenger van, all windows were in but also the trim, the trim made by MB done by manufacturing methods not available for small companies. Most of conversions trims are done with thin plywood and fabric not more expensive molds.

Starting with passenger factory trims also saves time, about 30%. A while back I saw a full conversion video from a shop in LA timed down to 10 min., over 3 min. was spent for trimming.

Mounting overhead cabinets over the headliner was a little tricky, but since my installation a few folks copied it verbatim.
Yes, passenger vans are more expensive but:

1. I sold the seats
2. I didnít have to do trimming
3. It looks and feels as trimming was done by Mercedes without plywood/fabric.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:15 PM   #14
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Some people complain that all window vans are hot and hard to cool.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:58 PM   #15
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Have you checked out RVLife's Sportsmobile forum? It has a section for DIY builds and tons of 4x4 info: Sportsmobile Forum
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:26 PM   #16
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I am going through the same decision process. The transit option of dual alternators and a gasoline engine I can idle for for heat and electric power is very attractive. I have owned four Sprinters ( I loved them) and I have always managed to figure out their issues with out going to a dealer but it’s always a worry.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadie1 View Post
Hello gentlemen! I would like to build a custom van with 4 x 4 capability. The only two I am considering is the Ford transit or MB sprinter. I have no idea if the Ford transit is built as well as the sprinter. I read somewhere where the Ford transit in Europe is considered a throwaway van. Does anyone have any experience with the Ford transit? It would seem the Ford would be much easier and definitely cheaper to have serviced while traveling. The Ford transit would be about 20 K cheaper on the front end. However this would be a van I would probably keep for at least 10 years so I donít mind spending a little more to have a better product for the long-haul. Iím going to build it out similar to the Travato I have now. A full wet bath, kitchen etc. I want it a bit more catered to outdoor activities for off the grid rather than RV parks. Iíll keep my 2019 Travato until my custom is complete. I do love the Travato! Drives great and have had no issues for 20K miles. But itís not a 4x4 and more catered to RV parks. Figure itíll take a year to complete the project. Thoughts?
If you are looking for a galley, I have one available for sale. Comes out of a Roadtrek E-Trek with stainless steel sink, induction cooktop, fridge freezer, convection microwave and instant hot water heater. Also the electric couch (turns in to a Bed) is available. If you ready to built, a need some of it let me know. I am selling because I reconfigure my rig to transport bicycles inside. I would choose the sprinter if I were you. Service is not that expensive, they all have their hourly rates. The only advantage for the Ford would be the availability of shop on every corner.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:11 PM   #18
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I have a '16 MB 4x4 and highly recommend it. Runs great, very comfortable, powerful and economical. The 4x4 configuration provides additional clearance compared to standard version - not sure if Transit does same. For longevity you can't beat a MB diesel, which is why Amazon is buying up all the Sprinters coming out of the new plant and they are hard to come by.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:55 PM   #19
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For longevity you can't beat a MB diesel, which is why Amazon is buying up all the Sprinters coming out of the new plant and they are hard to come by.
Well, they are also buying up all the Transits and Promasters they can get:

https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2...auto-industry/

I wish you continued luck with your Sprinter diesel.
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