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Old 10-06-2020, 08:48 PM   #1
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Smile choosing the right van to convert

What is the best and most reliable van out there to convert to an RV?


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Old 10-06-2020, 10:43 PM   #2
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A brand new one that has a warranty that won't be tainted by any kind of redoing, upgrading or other cool stuff that will void big question! I hear the Nissan 4x4 van kinda pick up thing is a great one to score...I know owners love, lovethem...and its a Nissan*!

* I do not own or never have owned a Nissan or any product or subsidiary product of Nissan Products of Japan. I am also not a paid spokesperson for Nissan or any subsidiary of Nissan Product of Japan.

BUT, I have always wanted to own a vintage 240Z or some number like that...they sure were a cool car....

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Old 10-06-2020, 10:49 PM   #3
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I can't afford a new one. lol. I went looking for a ford transit van today. what do you think about a used one of those. Also what do you think about a promaster?
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Old 10-07-2020, 02:54 AM   #4
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I've heard good things about the Transit, but more people with problems for the Promaster. If I go Eurovan style, definitely going Transit at this point with the available offerings.
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Old 10-07-2020, 07:27 AM   #5
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"Best" is going to be different for everybody. To help guide you towards you towards a platform that will work best for you build, it would help if you tell us a bit about what you want to do, where you want to go, terrain you want to traverse, weather you like to camp in etc.

For reliability.... The Transit has proved fairly reliable, with the only chronic issues being the guibo joint originally used (gone on the newer ones, and doesn't apply to 4x4 conversions) and emissions issues on the 3.2L diesel. The 3.7L is so simple, there just isn't much to go wrong, plus it's had a decade of service in the F150 at this point. The 3.5L EcoBoost is generally reliable, but it a far more complicated motor. Around 250,000 many require a timing chain. If it's babied, and never driven hard, carbon buildup can be an issue especially for vans driven short-cycles. Like all turbos, it just like to be worked.

I wouldn't take a ProMaster if I was offered one for free. My personal bias against Front Wheel Drive mostly. Even my Focus is exceeds the traction limits of a FWD platform. Plus, you have far more difficult servicing, where major service on the Promaster requires dropping it's Caravan-sourced powertrain out the bottom. Lastly, I live up the street from a Ford/Ram dealer. I see a never-ending line of ProMasters i the service lot. I very rarely see a Transit.

Sprinter... It has the most camper-conversion support. But being a diesel, it's still prone to emissions systems issues, often confounded by the sparse service network (Ram dealers no longer service them, Freightliner apparently no longer does warranty work on MB-badged vans, and not every MB dealer will touch a Sprinter).

That said... a classic Body On Frame van like an Econoline with a Triton motor or Chevy Express with an LS motor still offers the best durability, better body/chassis repairability, cheaper parts, and and every corner mechanic can work on one. They just don't have the space, refinement, or efficiency of the modern tall-vans.
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Old 10-07-2020, 11:33 PM   #6
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This would be a good starting point. Tons of miles but 1 owner, service records and the best motor ford ever installed.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Grampswrx View Post

This would be a good starting point. Tons of miles but 1 owner, service records and the best motor ford ever installed.

427,000 miles? I know the 7.3 is long-lasting, but Iíd have a hard time plunking down $11k for that many miles.
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:06 AM   #8
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I would say the most reliable would be a GM 4.8, 5.3, or 6.0. No real issues with them and they have good power.

The Ford 5.4 and 6.8 had spark plugs blowing out. The 6.0 diesel is not even a consideration and the older 7.3 diesel has a weak transmission behind it.
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Old 10-13-2020, 05:45 AM   #9
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I have a 2017 Transit. I bought it new. Now have 46,000 miles on it and I love it. Never had any problems, and would definitely buy another.
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Old 10-13-2020, 08:41 AM   #10
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I agree "best" is hard to nail down as it depends on your budget and luck at buying used vehicles. Part of me really likes the low price I paid for my van. Another part of me is concerned about dumping a ton of $$$ into doing a conversion on a 28 year old van with 200K miles. A number of the systems I want as part of the RV conversion will cost more than I paid for the actual van. But, I am trying to think of it like building a fixer-upper house. As long as the "foundation" is good (the van is basically rust-free, which is important here in the rust-belt), everything else can be repaired or replaced.

But I've also recognized that my build will be a multi-stage process that will likely go through at least two iterations over the years. This should give me ample time to fix any glaring issues with the van chassis components. Part of me is hoping to do a 12V CTD/Allison conversion and if I do that I'll have to separate the body from the chassis and completely remove all of the RV conversion bits. I'll likely gut and rewire the entire van at that point as well. But I have the tools and experience (if not the space...) to do work like this.

Part of me really wants a Transit, but new ones aren't cheap by any stretch and even more so if you start adding options geared towards an RV conversion. While I will have many thousands into my conversion (and I'm not even planning for 4WD), the end result will still be far less than if I started with a new Transit.

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