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Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern
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Eric_Taylor
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:31 pm    Post subject: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

For a while now Peace Vans in Seattle has been doing Mercedes Metris camper conversions, but I only recently noticed that they have a nice picture set of one of the conversions they have completed. This looks awesome, and the conversion looks high quality and well thought out. Here is the link:

https://www.peacevansmodern.com/full-camper

This option gets me thinking. It looks like a great product, and one of the only options, if not the only, that is a modern version of the Vanagon Westy layout. Based on what i'm seeing, you are looking at around 65-70k investment to get one of these with the full camper. As compared to many modern options, that seems reasonable, and it provides a footprint that no one else offers and mirrors our vanagons.

What gets me thinking, is the idea of whether or not there is a tipping point. Is there a point where i'm willing to walk away from spending money on my antique and go ahead and just go new? This comes up in particular as i'm thinking about dumping another 10k into the van, for a subaru conversion, tranny rebuild, and other ideas over the next few years. That puts me close to 30k total investment in the van, which is obviously over half what the Peace Vans option is, so in many ways it's a great value to stick with the vanagon. However, it's old, requires constant maintenance, potential break downs etc., and all of the things that come along with a 30 year old vehicle.

My question to you Samba is, what, if there ever is, is the tipping point for you? Is there a point where you just call it on investing in the old vehicle, and go new? To be honest, I have a really hard time thinking about selling mine. I love the projects, and much of that is what I enjoy. I like taking care of it and keeping it going. The cab over driving, old school mechanical feel, etc. are just awesome, and it reminds me of my child hood. However, there is appeal to a monthly payment, warranty, same foot print, and excellent layout. As I sit here thinking about this all, I thought I would throw it out there and get your thoughts. Both good options, but what are your thoughts??
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

I hate monthly payments... Evil or Very Mad

Wink

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Love My Westy
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Not for me. I can't imagine dealing with the MB dealer here in Salt Lake City.

BTW the metris looks like it could use more than the 1-1/2" optional lift to make me want to take it where I take my 2wd Vanagon.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Holy crap that is a lot of money. For 20k I can make my ‘87 totally new mechanically. YMMV.
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Gruppe B
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Non dealer installed roof kits should be available soon then this will be a very practical option.

30,000 for a new Metris and $7000 for a roof kit. Custom your own interior and you are ready for a New van in the low $40000s. Sure Vanagons are cheaper but you need to do a pile of labor on the mechanical and body work as well.
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Zeitgeist 13
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Just buy an '01-'03 EV Weekender, and then pour a quarter of that budget into it for camper accessories. The Metris is fugly and...it's a modern Mercedes--bad juju. Nein danke!
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Looks like the storage space is quite good. I could see it would be nice for hauling and deploying your outdoor adventure gear.
Doesn't seem like it would have the same "tiny home" feel as a Vanagon camper and even with the 1.5"lift, doesn't appear like it would go off the beaten path as well as a Vanagon.
I nice alternative for some but I think I would go full Sprinter before one of these.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Eric_Taylor wrote:


My question to you Samba is, what, if there ever is, is the tipping point for you? Is there a point where you just call it on investing in the old vehicle, and go new?


That Metris looks nice but the ground clearance seems suited for paved roads and little else.

I'm not sure when my tipping point will come. My current van is the result of 20 years of noodling on how to make a great Vanagon for our needs. It's got 290K miles and will go plenty more with regular maintenance. I'll likely replace it with a Sprinter or Transit when we decide we really want an indoor head/shower, when the Vanagon fails in dramatic fashion or when all the comforts of a modern car become too attractive to do without. Until then, it's this Vanagon. This may go on for years and years. We'll know when it's time. So will you.

How old are you? Is this a lifelong lifestyle or a period of time. If you're young and this is a lifelong lifestyle then go with the Metris. You'll run it for 20 years whereas with a Vanagon you'll be making the same choice a decade from now.
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ZsZ
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

If this question is popped up in your head then buy the new car.
A Vanagon wont be a modern/new car whatever money you spend on it.
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:42 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

It looks like a nice product but very minivan like.
It will satisfy a market void.

Only 4.4" ground clearance.

Modern Mercedes have a history of troubles, mostly glitches in their extensive electronic gobbly gook.

I'll venture a guess that most of us aren't able to drop 65-75 large on a vehicle.

My 86 Weekender hasnt even cost me 10 all in and I've a great running unit,
It did take three years of part time work.

However, if you are one who writes checks for others to rebuild/maintain a Vanagon, this is probably a viable option for you.

Vanagons when new were considered very expensive for the day.
I bought a new Dodge minivan in 84, I never gave a Vanagon a second glance.
Dodge is LONG GONE! VW would have been a better investment.

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Abscate
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:42 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

“Investing” and “ old car”are mutually exclusive.

You will never keep,up with the Sp500 race with any VW. Don’t tell the Split guys that, they are snowflakes
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JudoJeff
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:19 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Nice looking camper, but if I was going to spend 70k, I’d buy from Cinq5 in Quebec. This “garageable” crap is baloney, build a bigger garage.
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Pcforno
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:38 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

After spending countless hours and dollars on my van and many many good memories and road trips, including breakdowns - it would be like abandoning an old friend. I love my van, warts and all.
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campism
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:14 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

We bought our Westy because it was an affordable way to get into the camping we wanted to do, and when considering an upgrade now we're looking at a used Sprinter/Transit/Promaster to build out. Affordable is the key for us when discussing a third vehicle for occasional use.

I'd consider a Sube or I-4 swap to upgrade ours but my wife, who is unsentimental about vehicles, would jettison the Westy and move on.
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:29 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

i see a few deciding factors on Westy ownership, not cast in stone but trends....

- the ability OR the willingness to learn to do the mechanical necessities on the 30 year old vehicle. (it does my heart good when i see folks wanting to learn these dark arts). or have $$ but then finding a competent mechanic that reads Samba obsessively is difficult.

- the size. these things are tiny compared to everything else out there. it is an advantage if you can live with the disadvantage! boils down to thinking minimalist instead of bringing it all.

- the attention. every trip you take will lead to conversations at the gas pump, grocery store, etc. our last trip those conversations led to a retired Ministry of Nat Resources guy telling about an incredible hidden waterfall 12km from where we were camping in Ontario. stuff like that.

- the Spore. don't know what else to call this but some of us are infected with what can only be described as some sort of spore that gets into us and takes over all reason, there's just something about these vans that we gotta have. they aren't fast, don't get good mpg, breakdown, difficult in wind and fast traffic, and on yet we can't let go when maybe we should.
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Boxer Rebellion
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:31 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Hi all,

There are always "trade offs". If you have kids, the modern safety features that new vehicles provide will make purchasing from PeaceVans up-fitter a good choice. But it will come with high cost, low to minimal personal tinkering, let alone owning the correct type of tools to do maintenance on your own. Insurance will be higher as well.

I guess it all depends on what stage in life you are in. I love my 1987 Westy with the Subi conversion. Most of our camping trips are 2-3 days maximum. With all the tinkering I have to do, I have learned quite a bit of mechanical skills on my own, and its appealing.

However, time is more important now. So spending more valuable time with family vs. constant Vanagon upkeep is desirable.

so my vote would be to keep the Vanagon, and just finance a New PeaceVan Metris...if you can afford to...Smile

"Go Fast Slowly" with the Vanagon is appealing for just wife and me, but with kids, it is a challenge sometimes.

again, there are Trade Offs.

Cheers
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davevickery
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:42 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

If someone just wants more modern, they can get a fairly low mileage 2001-2003 Eurovan Camper which is a bigger and better factory designed camper.

There isn't much of a market in the US for a micro camper in the $70K price range. The Sprinter popularity has proven that. I have yet to see anyone camping in a Metris. 3.8" of ground clearance, wow.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:02 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

If I were seriously thinking of ditching my 30 year old vanagon (and I think of it EVERY time I break down traveling cross-country) I would consider the Recon Camper. It's based on the Nissan NV200, is cheaper than the Peace Vans option, more reliable, and better equipped. www.reconcampers.com
But I love my old vanagon way too much to ever get rid of it.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:11 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

You refer (3 times) to these vehicles being an 'investment' whereas I have always viewed mine as an 'expense'.

The modern $70K vehicle would (my opinion) take a significant depreciation hit right at the start of ownership adding to the net expense of the venture.

The Vanagon, on the other hand, can actually appreciate during ownership which partially offsets the ongoing expense.

Were it my decision I would base it on utility - which vehicle lets me do what I want?

But if the decision turns on the financial outcomes - I still get the same answer.
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Eric_Taylor
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:15 am    Post subject: Re: Spending money on upgrades to the Westy vs. Peace Vans Modern Reply with quote

Sounds like a little background on myself might be helpful. I'm 32 and have had my van for just about two years. As a kid we had one for most of my younger years and I always enjoyed camping in it and have wanted one for a very long time. Having this van is a dream come true, and I'm thrilled to have it. As many of you echoed, one of the fun parts is working on it, doing the projects, and having an opportunity to be a part of a community that provides a ton of support. I'm sure the Metris owners forum isn't lively.

The next big project that I really want to do is the Subaru conversion. I've researched it for MONTHS, spent WAY to much time pouring over options, parts choices, etc. and honestly that's been fun doing the planning process. However, when I think about putting the money in, along with other upgrades I plan, that get me to another $10k spent on this thing, and I start thinking about whether or not i'm crazy.

Investment was the wrong word to express my thoughts. I recognize that I won't be getting a big return on money spent here, and i'm ok with that. I've already done a bunch of it Smile. The thinking is really, am I crazy to keep spending significant money on this old van when there are modern alternatives that are similar? I don't see the sprinter as the same, because the size is so much larger. The metris, or that Recon camper (which looks like a better choice!) seem to be more my speed.

Right now I own a cheap Toyota commuter, and really "my car" is the van. My wife thinks it's slow and would not be safe for everyday use with kids, but enjoys weekend trips. So I suppose it's tempting to think about selling the van and toyota for a do it all car. Honestly though, I think I'd rather keep spending money on the van, even if it feels crazy.

My question really is, what are other peoples thoughts and experiences for them when it comes to these alternatives? Do these things tempt you or are you good with being buried in your van? Great thoughts so far. I love thinking about it, even if I know i'll probably keep the Vanagon forever.
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