Which van to use as a base for a camper conversion?

Which van to use as a base for a camper conversion?

24. November 2019 0 By Van Bro #2

If you don´t have a truck or van to start with, you will have to ask yourself: Which manufacturer, type and size of a camper van do I want? And there is actually for each purse and each need (up to approx. 4 persons) a suitable vehicle out there. In this post, we share with you, how we selected the height and length suitable to us and finally decided for our Iveco Daily.

But it’s not quite that simple, and our Iveco Daily camper conversion is definitely not a perfect vehicle. But it didn’t have to be, it just met all our criteria:

3 criteria that our van has to have to be a good fit for our conversion plans:

  1. I, 1.90m tall, would like to be able to stand comfortably in the van on rainy days. The height of vans with the designation H2 (i.e. high roof) is usually almost 190 to 194 cm. At first this is sufficient, but we will install insulation in the floor and below the ceiling. This takes up at least 3-5 cm of space on the floor and about 3-5 cm on the ceiling. In addition, there will be wooden panels on the ceiling and vinyl or laminate flooring on the floor. In total, we will probably lose 6-10 cm of room height. This does not include skylights, ceiling lamps, etc. which require additional space, too.

    Our decision: We decided that it should be a vehicle with a super high roof (H3). The height varies between the vans, but is always at least 210cm, giving us enough air above our heads. (Fiat Ducato: 2172mm; Iveco Daily: 2100mm; Mercedes Sprinter: 2140mm) Positive side effect: Taking a show is much more fun, if you can stand straight!
  2. We insist on a shower and a cassette toilet. This is a personal decision and depending on the type of toilet, you can certainly survive comfortably without your own shower. But for us it is a musthave. The consequence is that we need more space. Since we also want to be able to legally have 4 passengers in the vehicle, additional space is necessary.

    Our decision: We are looking for a transporter with the maximum length, also called L5. This varies considerably among the different vans. For example, the Fiat Ducato in its longest version only has a loading area of 4070mm length, whereas the Mercedes Sprinter has 4700mm.
    The long loading area offers a lot of space, but also has some disadvantages when driving. Due to the long wheelbase and the long “rear end” maneuvering in narrow streets is difficult, parking spaces are sufficiently long for L2-L3 vans, but clearly too short for L5 vans. For us this is fine. We would like to make vacations with our campers in Sweden, Croatia, Norway and mainly in the nature. City trips and stealth camping are not planned for the time being.
  3. The price: We have set for us that the basic vehicle including all repairs and exchange of wear parts (e.g. toothed belts, new tires, etc.) should cost a maximum of 10.000€, hopefully less. However, for “less” one should already have courage and ideally be able to carry out repairs independently. A broken transmission in a van can happen and quickly demolish your camper conversion budget if a specialist workshop has to do all the work.

Our decision: Since one of us is a car/truck mechanic himself, we took a rather bold approach and simply calculated the potential costs of repairs during vehicle inspections in order to find a cheap vehicle.

Now to the selection of our van conversion candidates, that we did consider in the end. The volume of each of the 3 vans is by the way nearly 17 cubic meters, only the distribution of height, width and length differs.
For our choice we have noted the following (subjective) advantages and disadvantages for us:

L5H3: Fiat Ducato / Peugeot Boxer / Citroen Jumper von 2006- 2014


In comparison, the room width of the Fiat Ducato is noticeably larger than the others. With a width of 187cm, “normal” people can also sleep sideways in the vehicle. The height of the L5H3 is also 7cm higher than in the Iveco Daily.
The design of the transporter is appealing, too!
The Fiat Ducato is used as a base vehicle by many professional panel van builders, e.g. Pössl etc. . It is also a popular vehicle for conversions. There is therefore a wide range of camper accessories that are specially designed for the Ducato, such as matching mats for window insulation, etc.


The price for a solid base vehicle is relatively high. Spare parts are relatively fair.
The L5H3 version of the Ducato only has a loading area length of 4070mm. This is 63cm less than the extra long Mercedes Sprinter! (Note that the manufacturers do not necessarily measure identically, i.e. some measure up to the front seat instead of the (optional) partition wall).

Mercedes Sprinter extra long– Super high roof 2006-2018


Granted, the Mercedes Sprinter looks chic!
The extra long version of the Mercedes Sprinter is the longest in comparison.


The Mercedes Sprinter has a comparatively narrow width. With 178cm it is similarly narrow as the Iveco Daily.
The price of the Mercedes Sprinter is relatively high. Wearing parts are also relatively expensive, a difference in pricing is clearly visible compared to the Iveco Daily.

Iveco Daily extra long– Super high roof 2006-2014


The price of an Iveco Daily base vehicle is significantly lower than the price of comparable Ducatos and Sprinters.
Spare parts like gearbox, fenders etc. are (to the extent that we researched) significantly cheaper than the ones for Mercedes and Fiat.
Similar to the Mercedes Sprinter, the loading area is significantly longer than the Ducato (4540mm)


The design of the Iveco Daily is very “well behaved”. The design of the Ducato is much bolder, with sharp lines (headlights) and clear edges. The Daily, on the other hand, is a bit more conservative in its appearance.
Similar to the Mercedes Sprinter, the room width is quite small, only 1750mm.

VW Crafter and Ford Transit

We have not considered these 2, because we have heard a lot of critical things about the vehicles, respectively only a few engines could convince us (e.g. for VW Crafter only models with simple turbo (no BI-Turbo)). As described above, we made this decision based on the information we had at the time. There are certainly many happy Ford Transit owners!

Our conclusion:

In principle, the range of vans with super high roofs in the extra-long version is already quite limited. With a restriction to a maximum of 10.000€, there are usually only a few vehicles available in Germany at once, so we were not really spoilt with choices. In addition, many vehicles with accident damages can had to be sorted out.

In our case it finally became an Iveco Daily as base-vehicle for our camper conversion. Why? It was cheap, because there were some defects, but we can hopefully repair those cheaply.