VW Camper Van... this photographer's favourite accessory!
See also VW T4 Campervan Pics and Info
Just how do you get to Holyhead from Mid Wales by 7.30am, or take early morning shots across Alpine valleys? By getting there the night before, which is where having a van comes in handy. We hardly ever stay on sites – there are so many other places where you can park, some functional and some stunning.
The VW T4 Transporter 800 Special makes an excellent motorhome base. Unlike coachbuilt vans, which age at a rate of knots and drink fuel in large quantities, it is genuinely well built, and uses less fuel than many cars.
The 800 Special has a fairly weedy 1.9 TD engine, its low tune state giving surprisingly good torque but rather low bhp at just 68! Though not quick in the slightest, this is the most fuel efficient T4: careful motorway driving gets 38mpg, more average roads 30 to 35mpg. Having said that, it is a relaxed motorway cruiser, happy at up to 75mph, and has plugged the length and breadth of France by autroute and climbed the Pyrenées in Andorra and Spain without a hiccup.
The rigid high top is essential if you're tall, and the above-cab storage is an added bonus. Wooden boards can be placed above the main double bed, sleeping another child or two [or an adult at a pinch!] but the van is definitely best for just two.
Along one side is a small sink with tap, and a twin burner gas hob with grill. A small Halfords 60w chiller is usually sufficient for our needs, and saves having (and powering) a cumbersome three-way fridge. There's a table which can be put up, and the passenger seat swivels, so it can seat 3 in reasonable comfort.
The addition of an Eberspächer diesel fuelled blown-air heater has made it more pleasant in winter. You need a 12v 'D2' system for a T4, and should run from leisure battery as it uses a powerful electric fan. These are expensive new at about £1,000 for the kit which includes the heater itself, controller, thermostat, fuel pipes and pump, exhaust pipe and silencer, but once in place give 2kw of heat for 24 hours from a gallon of paraffin or diesel.
Our VW T4 was converted by Aztec Campers of Swansea