The open road is calling your name but how do you even begin? There’s more than one way to live in a van.
There’s the $120K Roadtrek way:
There’s the DIY Sprinter conversion way ($15-25K):
And then, there’s the budget way ($1-4K):
We recently purchased a 2001 Chevy Express contractor van with 118,000 miles for $2500. For this build, we decided to do a budget build to figure out what’s really necessary to live in a van.
Budget vans come in all varieties, most common being the cargo van although conversion models are also available. Among cargo vans, budget options vary from $1000 older or high mileage vehicles to $4000 low mileage late models.
Although there are cheaper options out there, we decided to go with the newer van because of several factors. The newer van has a few more creature comforts: it is quieter and rides more smoothly. Our 2001 with the 5.0L V8 gets 20MPG which is as good as it gets for a gas powered van. Some mechanical improvements also make the newer models desirable; for example, the transmission is much stronger and modern fuel injection. Parts are widely available in junk yards and are more likely to be in stock at auto parts stores. This van has a high stealth factor for exploring towns and cities. A 1991 “Free candy” van sticks out a lot more.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue with a look at how to build a Budget Van.. for less than $200!