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Old 05-20-2011, 10:13 AM   #1
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Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

Hello Everyone,

I've been interested in a sportsmobile for a long time and looking to start building one myself. I've just discovered this forum which is awesome.

I was wondering what are the advantages and disadvantages with using a cargo or passenger van as the base. I would go with an EB.

My concerns are windows...I guess adding windows in a cargo would be easier.
Registration is more with a cargo I think (I'm in PA).

My plan is a self-sufficient rig (at least for a limited time, anyway) with solar power; water hook up to easily refill tanks and electric hookup for when the sun doesn't shine to charge up the battery bank.

Looking forward to everyone's input.
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Old 05-21-2011, 03:10 AM   #2
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

Welcome,

Window van:
Big windows already in place all around, need to blacken them out if a wall or closet is before.
Depending on model, benches in place.
Body stiffer by the welded window frames and double skin

Cargo van:
Empty van without openings. You decide if yozu want windows where, amount and size.
Body stiffness lower by the glued double skin.
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:25 AM   #3
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

I like the passenger vans because you get windows that are are far less likely to leak, and there is more of them, giving a more open feel. You also get all the interior trim already done for you, which can save a lot of time a money. Also you are more likely to find it with rear HVAC.

Downside of course is layout flexibility. Kinda hard to fill a window back in (but it is easy to black them out). Also, on the Fords, the wall panels take up a lot of space. More than they need to, since they accommodate the rear heater ducts, and also storage pockets and other features you may not need or want. You could probably gain 4"-6" of interior width below the window line, by not using a passenger van.
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:25 PM   #4
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

I'm the opposite of carringb, I'm all about opening the windows. The awing type too, very important to me. Even if I had rear air, I'd rather open the windows most of the time.
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:01 AM   #5
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

At the time I was considering this question, there was one factor that swung me to a cargo van. New passenger vans from Ford all came with traction control and on cargo vans it was optional. When a wheel starts to lose traction, the traction control automatically applies the brakes to that wheel. Handy when you blow a tire on the freeway while transporting your church group, but not so handy if you intend to convert the van to 4WD. Carringb could probably tell you the year Ford made traction control standard on passenger vans, so if you are looking to start with a used van and this matters to you, you might be able to find a used passenger van without traction control.

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Old 05-22-2011, 09:53 AM   #6
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

Traction control vans can be converted to 4X4, don't let that be a deciding factor. Mine has traction control and has been converted with a U-Joint kit, no issues at all.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:20 AM   #7
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

[color=#825000]Everyone has really good points. If you do a poptop the ventilation issue is not as important because you can then open all the windows up top and get a breeze. The only thing that do not totally agree with is the factory windows less likely to leak. Every ford van I have owned has had leaky windows as do the fixed windows in our explorer. I think it is related to twisting the body up off road and the seals getting old and dried up, even though my first van was a two wheel drive with no pop top installed it still had leaky windows. Resealing them is sort of a pain but do it once and it last a long time. On the other hand I have not seen any crl windows leak ever.
With that being said I love my window vans and with a poptop I would take a window over a cargo any day. Rear heat and ac is worth its weight in gold. A window van has a lot bigger feel due to the windows. And privacy never really seems to be an issue because in the day time the tint reflects so you cannot see in and in the evenings if your in a camp ground the reflectix window shades black it out and insulate it. Window vans do have a stronger body they have extra metal welded into the structure that cargos do not have plus the window openings being welded into the structure.
Another big deciding factor for a lot of people is if you plan to carry passengers no after market windows will give you the view from the first bench seat that a window van will give you.
The last point I want to make is that if you buy a cargo van that does not have windows in the doors you cannot add the factory flip open or fixed windows to a door that came with out windows. They are built different from the factory and those windows cannot be added. You can add aftermarket fixed windows but they look funny like a submarine window or something with a big seal all the way around the window.
Hope that helps good luck with your new purchase and build.
Derek
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:12 PM   #8
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

I appreciate the responses. From what everyone has said, I'm going to go for a passenger van due to the stronger body and rear HVAC. Sounds like windows are harder to add than cover and insulate.

@ctimrun - good to know the U-Joint kit can be used in the case of traction control to convert to 4x4.

I just thought about a few other things and not sure if it's been covered in other threads. For a stock passenger van, do you guys/gals install extra insulation or do you install/turn on the heater or just bundle up when the temperature drops. Also, how does installing a top affect the rear air ducts? Are they simply re-routed to the side?

There is so much to consider...like the kind of top (I'm 6'1"), buying new or used, or fixing my dad's 1995 Ford EB which is just sitting here (he just bought a 2009 a couple months ago). I will look into starting a journal once I decide and acquire the vehicle. Thanks everyone.
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:35 PM   #9
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

I like the cargo vans much better,

I just think it way to many windows, and an EB thats a lot of glass

A window in the side door is a must. (i dont have that YET) and one behind the driver is nice more so for the wife to look out when i see some thing as we are driving. I am going to put one in the rear door but I think im just going to replace the door with one that already has a window in it.

Have fun.

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Old 05-22-2011, 04:45 PM   #10
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Re: Cargo vs Passenger Van as Base

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsw4x4
If you do a poptop the ventilation issue is not as important because you can then open all the windows up top and get a breeze.
I don't think this is true, at least for us. Not only is the PH not open often when not camped, but it's only adequate and breezy up top- at least in ours, unless windows below are open it doesn't really seem to help- especially if it's raining and the PH windows can't be open.
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