Choosing the van

Ok, I wanted a van. Now the hunt could begin. Since I didn’t have a fixed schedule, I had plenty of time to look for a nice deal.

First, I needed to decide the type of van, and my search criteria.
Some were already pretty clear: Not too old, at least an EURO4 engine (Petrol vans are rare in the Netherlands).
Although EURO4 emissions aren’t the greatest and likely to be taxed soon, this was within my budget. Also, I’m not planning to drive into major cities anyway.

I didn’t want a old van, since I didn’t like the looks of most of them, and I want to have some level of comfort (AC, decent driving power, power steering, cruisecontrol and so on).

For the dimensions, it was pretty clear to me I wanted to have a bed sideways. Having it lengthwise would require a bigger (longer) van. Since I’m mainly plan on traveling in Europe I want it to stay within 6m length and 3m height. (including any accesoires like bike racks, solar, roof vents and so on).

– The van can fit in a regular parking space (well, not always, but it’s still possible to do groceries and so on and park on a lot of places).
– Having it above these dimensions means more expenses on eg toll roads, bridges and ferry crossings (which of course depends on the location)
– Easier to drive and still beeing able to acces smaller towns/roads.

Ok, so I know the required approx dimension. Now up to selecting a van.
Since I wanted to go for a sideways bed, and I’m pretty tall (1.94 / 6’4″ ) I needed a van with the ‘biggest width’ possible. I didn’t want a box van. So basicly, most vans aren’t an option (eg Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, VW Crafter, Renault Master). The only wider vans available are the Fiat Ducato. (Also sold as Citroen Jumper and the Peugeot Boxer in mainland Europe). It’s the same van as the Citroen Relay in the UK, or the Ram Promaster in the US. (Although they all have different engine configurations).

As for the length and height, I needed the L2H2 or L3H2, which are 5.40m and 6m in lenght (17’9″ / 19’8″). The H3 has more height, but with the stuff on the roof it was too high for my preferences (less mpg due to the height and some more restrictions).
The H2 is 252cm in height (8’3″), so in total with all accesoires it will be around 265cm.

I wanted to have the ‘newer’ model, which entered the market in about 2006. There are some more recent models but I was quite sure they weren’t within my budget.

As for mileage: I actually didn’t really care. They are all diesel engines, and reliability is more related to good maintenance than on actuale mileage.

For the engine, my preferences was the 2.3 JTD engine or the 3.0 engine. Those have 120/130 or 180HP and quite a nice amount of torque, and more important are generally know to be reliable.
I only had to take a timing belt replacement within my budget, since it was likely (or advised) to replace this when I opted for a van with a belt.

Having AC was mandatory, all others were ‘nice to have’. I knew cruisecontrol was very easy to retrofit (only required a cruise control stalk, which I was sure could be aquired for cheap on a dump yard).

Having windows would be nice, but if they were already installed, it had to match my planned layout…

So now I could start hunting!

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