VW T5 Campervan Conversion by CJ Van Designs

Our VW T5 campervan conversion  was completed earlier this year.  Rosemary and I decided we wanted to travel more, and not be tied to hotels or tents.  We decided on a small campervan which is as easy to drive as a car, and can be parked in most normal parking spaces.  We went with the VW  campervan dream, well OK a modern VW T5 Campervan  dream.  We bought a two year old VW T5 kombi van coloured blackberry.  It is the normal wheel base, highline model with tailgate, 2.0 litre 140PS engine.  Blackberry is a metallic paint which the DVLA calls purple.  In some lights it looks almost black, whereas in the sunshine it looks a sparkling dark purple colour, to sometimes a brown.  It’s a fabulous chameleon taking on the colours of its surroundings. 

Once we had the van, we needed it converted. Problem here was there was an unbelievable waiting list amongst all the workshops we contacted.  We chose CJ Van Designs in Wiltshire.  Colin the owner was thorough and took us through the many options we could have.  His designs for cupboards seemed to be what we wanted.  We booked the van in for conversion.  In between booking the van in for conversion, and conversion day, we took the van (& tent) for a long drive through France in September. Eventually the day for conversion arrived in January, we said goodbye to the T5, and a few weeks later we had our campervan.  It was glisteningly clean, complete with a bottle of Champagne in the fridge.

The work we had done on the van included:

  • Reimo popup roof, colour coded to the van, which contains a bed
  • Riba rear seat which converts to a bed
  • Cupboards, under sink, under bed, over sink, over the bed & inside the tailgate
  • 12 volt power and lighting
  • 240 volt hookup
  • An extra power socket near the side door, for laptop & outdoor cooking with an electric frying pan
  • Refrigerator (240/12 volt)
  • Twin ring gas hob
  • Sink
  • Diesel space heater
  • Lighting, including lights for the popup roof
  • Insulation in van walls
  • Flooring & carpeting on the sides
  • Rail for connecting an awning
  • Rotating passenger seat
  • Safe 

We did not have to install extra windows as the Kombi van has windows on both sides to part way down the van.  The extra rear seats and original flooring in the van were sold off during the conversion.  New bench-seat/bed from Riba was then installed.

Much of this work is mandatory for the vehicle to be licensed by DVLA as a campervan aka “Motor Caravan”.  Without this complete work the van would not be able to be taken to music festivals like Reading festival where their requirements for a campervan mirror the DVLA requirements.

We took pictures  for the re-registration of the Volkswagen T5 Combi van to a Motor Caravan.  The photographs had to show the registration plate of the van, the fixtures, gas, water, sink, cupboards, table and bed.  These were sent to DVLA and a couple of weeks later we had the new registration certificate.

There are some of the extra items we want for the campervan: a bike rack and an awning.  Choosing the awning is difficult. Do we want a side-less awning to keep the sun off, where we can eat and cook in warm countries, or do we want a drive-away awning with sides where we can leave the tables and chairs under cover, and change our shoes and coats in cold and wet Britain?


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