All posts by 8 Ball Camper Conversions

For sale: The Ultimate Camper

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Are you looking for the ultimate VW T6 campervan? If so read on, because this must surely be one of the most exceptionally specified vans you’ll ever see.

Presented in stunning Starlight blue metallic, this is the powerful but economical 204ps T30 model with DSG automatic gearbox and 4 wheel drive thanks to the VW 4 Motion system. It has covered just 13,000 miles and it drives like a dream; eating up motorway miles in total comfort, offering exceptional handling on country roads and when things get really tricky…like trying to leave the Glastonbury campsite, the clever 4wheel drive system should see you out of the field and onto the road in no time at all.

Being a highline specification van with almost every conceivable extra, you’re pampered in the cabin too, thanks to adaptive cruise control, Satnav, Power fold mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, factory specified comfort dash with inbuilt drinks chiller, heated seats, App connect, electric soft close tailgate and side door, rear wash wipe, reversing camera and climate control.

On the outside, the van sports factory upgraded alloy wheels, factory upgraded headlights and chrome side bars which together give a subtle but very sharp look, very much in keeping with the nature of this stunning camper.

The interior features a full 8 Ball² Conversion complete with an Austops colour coded poptop roof and a hand crafted cupboard system with our own signature metal edging, making it both elegant and practical. All four seats are finished in custom two-tone Daytona leather which give a distinctive look that’s supremely comfortable and adding a really sporty feel to the interior.

In the rear of the vehicle as well as ample cupboard space, the van is fitted with a crash tested 2 person RIB seat with isofix fixings. Thanks to the clever design of the RIB seat, the bed and seat surfaces are different, which is a massive benefit. It’s a great place to sit thanks to the sculpted Daytona leather and adjustable headrests, but then as a bed, the seat folds in a way that allows you to lie on a fully flat fabric mattress, making it supremely comfortable for a great night’s sleep.

The conversion doesn’t end here either. Of course it has a 50 litre compressor fridge with removable ice box, a split charge system with mains hook-up, a double burner cooker and sink unit with electric tap and an inbuilt 23 litre water tank. The Loc8 Table System gives the flexibility of being used both inside and outside of the van too, a really useful feature. But perhaps the most distinctive feature of the interior when the night draws in is the under worktop LED mood lighting and brilliant Starlight ceiling, featuring hundreds of fibre optic lights; so you can lie on the lower bed and gaze up at the twinkling stars as you drift off to sleep.

This really is an exceptional 4 berth campervan and you’ll be hard pressed to find one with better specification anywhere in the UK. It is offered for sale with the balance of manufacturer’s warranty and it’s ready for adventure. Priced at £49,950 please call Colin or Mike for more details.

Click here to view the full vehicle and camper listing and specifications.

Campervans and Festivals; the best of both worlds

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Summer is coming, so it’ll soon be festival season. And when it comes to festivals, renting a VW T6 Campervan makes a lot of sense.

Of course there are a number of options when it comes to accommodation…

You can use a tent.

They are cheap and purists will tell you that they offer a truly ‘authentic’ festival experience. There are a couple of issues though. They are totally insecure, so don’t expect to leave anything in your tent, not even your beer.

Then there’s the problem of actually finding your tent late at night. There’ll be thousands of tents all looking remarkably similar in the dark and you are likely to join hundreds of people  staggering around unzipping random tents in the hope of looking inside and seeing that it’s actually yours. So there is a good chance you may well try to get into someone else’s tent or worse still, actually find someone else tucked up in your sleeping bag when you return. Then once you have evicted the unwanted tenant, you’ll spend the rest of the night dealing with a succession of drunken couples unzipping your tent to see if it’s theirs.

Oh and if the weather is bad, then you need to take it for granted that you’ll be rolling around in a sea of mud and absolutely everything you own that hasn’t been stolen will be cold, wet and muddy. Yuck.

You can stay in a hotel or B&B.

This pretty much assures that you’ll be dry and your stuff will be secure, but you’ll have to leave the festival site every time you want to relax and this means you’ll miss half the fun. It’s likely to cost a fortune too and the best rooms will have been booked up last year anyway, so it’s hardly an option at this stage. I guess there’s always a Travelodge 20 miles away.

Or you could rent a campervan.

Of course I’m going to recommend this option; after all we are a camper conversion company who can rent you a fantastic VW T6 camper for just such an occasion. But there are good reasons behind my thinking….

An 8 Ball Camper Conversion offers the warmth, security and dryness of a hotel, with the true festival experience offered by staying on site.  If you get tired and want a rest, you can pop back to the van nfor 40 winks on a nice comfy bed.

As camper people tend to be a friendly bunch too, the chances are that in the evening you’ll end up sitting by a BBQ, with a cool beer or two chatting with new found friends. And unlike the tent dweller (who has most likely had their beer stolen or if they’ve still got it, it’s warm), your beer will be ice cold from the fridge. Colin reckons that in a camper van you should be able to keep your beer cold for 3 days or so off grid. And I don’t think I’m spreading gossip here when I say he should know!

So with the accommodation sorted, all you need to do is to decide which festival to attend. Being Britain the choice is almost limitless. Glastonbury is of course very popular, as is Leedsfest, Womad, Carfest and Latitude. But if these are not for you, how about Bog Snorkelling in Wales, Dwile Flonking in Sussex,  Up Helly Aa in Shetland or perhaps the International Festival of Worm Charming in Devon or The Nutters’ Dance in Lancashire. Britain in the summer is an absolute joy and the diversity of the festival scene offers something for every campervan enthusiast.

So if you are looking for a camper to take to your festival of choice, look no further than 8 Ball. We have various rental dates available throughout the summer in a cosy VW T6 that sleeps 4 and which has the all important fridge too!

Are you looking for a one-off distinctive camper?

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Are you looking for a one-off distinctive camper? Well how about this….

The vast majority of VW T5 and T6 camper conversions have a similar layout. Which for the most part is due to simple practicalities: the bed doubles up as a back seat and strangely enough you tend to find it in the back. The cupboard system tends to be where there is the longest run of uninterrupted space, which for UK vans is along the right hand side. The fridge is best placed where it can be opened even when the bed is down, and this means it’s usually near the front.

After all, practicality matters.

Of course there are a whole host of conversions out there that try to do things differently, but usually they lose functionality in the process.

So does this mean all campervans have to be the same?

The answer of course is no and at 8 Ball Camper Conversions we take a great deal of care making sure that our conversions are bespoke to our customers, so much so that we’ve never built 2 the same.

Colin was recently looking at pictures on Instagram and he loved the look of some campers from the west coast of the USA. These vans were particularly light and airy, with a beach/outdoors feeling largely gained through the use of natural materials. And this got him thinking; which is always a worry for the rest of us, as it usually involves extra work.

Sure enough, the result has been that Mike has spent hours and hours on the woodwork in our latest sales van and it looks stunning. So if you are looking for a conversion as individual as you are; read on.

The van itself is Chromium yellow; reminiscent of old T2s seen down on the beaches in California back in the 1970s. However, that’s where the similarity ends. This is a shiny new T6 with High Line specification, so it has all the useful options such as heated windscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning  and cruise control.

But it’s the interior that really sets the van apart. Thanks to the use of real wood, such as solid oak in the cupboards and counter top, with lime washed pine on the wall and ceiling, it gives the van a warm al-fresco feeling, reminiscent of beach holidays in the summer sun.

The cupboard system has been designed to maximise the view out of the back window and the result is that with the bed down, you see nothing but the vista outside whilst you’re still in bed sipping your morning brew.

Careful choice of laminates for the cupboard system ties the interior together beautifully too, making the whole space feel open and light.

But it’s still a cozy camper with everything you you’ve come to expect from an 8 Ball Camper Conversion. So it sleeps 4, has a crash tested RIB seat, a TUV approved Austops roof, a ‘proper’ fridge and 2 burner hob with integrated sink. The one-off cupboard system maximises storage from the space available and the split charge electrics with mains hook-up, keep everything powered up right down to the pop up USB charging station.

We’ve changed the lighting too to go with the individual nature of the van. So it has warm white touch sensitive under cupboard LEDs and 2 strips of inconspicuous LEDs that offer a subtle down lighting from the upper bed area.

So the van feels light and open during the day and warm and cozy in the evening.

This one of a kind van is available right now, in time for the new season and is priced at only £39,500 inclusive.

So in no time at all, you could be down by the beach in one of the most individual vans you will ever find, enjoying what camper life is all about.

Looking for a VW T6 Camper conversion, we have 3 exciting options available for you

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If you are looking for a VW T6 Camper conversion, we have 3 exciting options available for you.

  1. Buy a brand new and fully converted van that is ready to go.
  2. Buy a brand new van that is ready trimmed, has the poptop and windows ready fitted and can be sold as-is for a home build, or fully built by us with the final specification chosen by you.
  3. Book in for a custom build of your own van.

Each choice will give you the peace and mind offered by choosing an 8 Ball Camper Conversion and each one offers different advantages.

Option 1: A ready built van

We currently have for sale a beautiful black 2018 VW T6 SWB with a full 8 Ball² Conversion.

This high specification T28 van is offered with delivery mileage only (300 miles) and comes with the reassurance of full VW warranty until July 2021, full 2 year warranty on the conversion and manufacturer’s 5 year warranty on the poptop roof.

This Highline van includes cruise control, air conditioning, auto headlights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth audio etc. It has 18” alloy wheels and genuine VW lowering springs have been fitted to give the van a great look.

The high spec 8 Ball² conversion includes colour coded Austops poptop roof, Dometic CRX 50 compressor fridge, SMEV double burner and sink unit, inbuilt 23 litre water tank with electric pump and rear RIB seat/bed with ISOFIX points, sliding frame and extra length rear cushion. The electrical setup includes leisure battery and Durite charger system, Sargent EC155 power supply unit, LED lighting and rear speakers. This particular vehicle also includes useful storage solutions of a Loc8 Table System fitted into the sliding door and two camping chairs neatly stored in the tailgate using the Chairpod system.

This vehicle is available immediately and is priced competitively at £39,950 inclusive of VAT.

Option 2: A van part-converted, which can become a DIY build for those who have the enthusiasm or can be completed by us to your own specifications.

Here we are offering a brand new High Line T6 in Chrome Yellow. The van has delivery mileage only and comes with a colour coded TUV approved Austops roof, side windows, insulated and trimmed interior and a full replacement floor with altro finish. And there we have stopped; to give you the greatest range of options available.

If you want, we can complete the van with one of our signature conversions (either 8 Ball² or 8 Ball³). You will be able to choose the finish of the cupboard system and decide upon which out of our extensive list of options you’d like to include.

Alternatively you may be looking forward to a home build project over the winter months and you are looking for a van that has had the major parts completed, but is a canvas on which you can create your own masterpiece. If so, this is the van for you.

Whichever you choose, just let us know what you’d like and we will be happy to help.

Option 3: We can convert your own van

Whether it’s a T5 or T6, new or used, we can create a stunning bespoke camper for you. This gives you the ultimate service where you get a fully guaranteed high quality conversion to the exact specification you want. Whether you want bespoke leather seats, starlight ceiling, under worktop lighting, diesel heating, solar panel etc. The list goes on. With hundreds of colours and finishes available for the cupboard system alone, your van will be as individual as you are and all of it will carry our 2 year warranty (5 year manufacturer’s warranty on the poptop). We have a bit of a waiting list, but we can still get your van converted in time for the 2019 season.

So whatever you want, when it comes to a VW camper, 8 Ball Camper Conversions has it covered.

Win a £250 Camper Hamper

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We are amazed at the stories we hear of our 8 Ball Camper Conversions. Customers tell us about where they have been and what they have done using their T5 or T6 campervan, but we never get to see any of it. So we thought we’d run a photo competition open to anyone who has had a van converted by us.

It’s simple; the best photo wins a £250 hamper of really useful campervan stuff. The subject matter needs to be your 8 Ball Camper Conversion, but after that it’s up to you.

So whether you want to send us a picturesque scene, something weird or whacky, or a funny moment from your travels; as long as it shows an aspect of your conversion you could win.

vw camper conversions

You can send us your pics on any of our social media platforms or by e-mail. So whether you already have a photo, or you are just about to use your van and the ideal opportunity presents itself, send us your snaps and we’ll enter you in the competition. So get snapping and a £250 Camper Hamper could be yours courtesy of 8 Ball Camper Conversions.

Chairpods; no need to rummage around for your camping chairs ever again

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Once you’ve arrived at your destination, all you really want to do is sit down, open a bottle and relax. So you need an easily accessible comfy chair or two and a handy table on which to put your bottle and assorted bowls of nibbles. Until recently this meant grovelling around under all your gear to find your deckchairs and then cursing the fact that your table only fitted inside your van when you want to be outside enjoying the view.

Things improved greatly a couple of years ago with the advent of the Loc8 Table System which allows easy storage of a brilliant camping table in your sliding door. The table itself can be used both inside and outside your van, so it’s a really versatile option. But the problem of the chairs remained; until now that is.

We are now proud to offer The Chairpod; a great idea taken from the VW California and developed here in the UK. The Chairpod fits onto the tailgate of your T5 or T6 and allows you to securely store two high quality light weight camping chairs in a place that is immediately accessible.

The pod itself is a neat black canvas style soft case which is neatly attached to the tailgate. Inside the chairpod is storage for the 2 camping chairs, which are then neatly zipped in when not in use. To get them out you simply unzip the Chairpod and unclip 2 securing tabs on the chair. Within seconds you’ve got the chair out and you can celebrate arrival at your destination by opening a bottle or two and having a well-deserved rest.

The chairs themselves are ultra-lightweight, but extremely strong and they have a capacity of 120kg (which is almost 19 stone if you are old fashioned). Best of all, they are comfy too!

And if the heavens open, it takes just seconds to fold them up and store them back in the Chairpod before climbing back in the van, taking your Loc8 Table with you.

So taken together, the Loc8 Table System and Chrairpod gives you the best possible way to have a camping table and chairs that are easily accessible when you need them and neatly stored out of the way when you don’t.

Starlight Ceiling

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I was trimming a VW T6 campervan last week whilst listening to the radio, when ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean came on. It starts with the words “Starry starry night” and that seemed very apt, given the fact that the van had just received a Starlight ceiling.

You may remember a few months ago we posted on Instagram our first Bentley-style Starlight ceiling.

It all came about when a new customer said how much they liked the roof lining of a Bentley they’d seen, where hundreds of fibre optic lights sparkled above the head of those sitting in the back.

Never one to ignore a challenge, Colin immediately promised the customer that if Bentley could do it, so can we and he then set about working out how to achieve it.

Over the next few weeks he was seen drawing dots on almost any flat surface at 8 Ball Camper Conversions, trying to work out how to get a truly random pattern. Odd as it may sound, the worst possible look was obtained by being completely random, as there would be areas with too many dots and other areas with none at all. But after a bit of trial and error he managed to work out a random pattern which looked good.

Next came the fibre optics themselves. First he tried a fairly mainstream fibre optic driver complete with 200 strands of tiny fibres. Helped by our apprentice, he drilled 200 tiny holes in a board and carefully threaded the fibres through. It looked like a cross between spaghetti and a spider’s web after an hour or two, but he assured us that it would look great in the end. But to be honest he was only half right; the finished board lit up fine and the random pattern looked good. However the resulting starlight effect was more like a scene from a Star wars action sequence rather than being the gentle twinkle of the night sky. You half expected Darth Vader to knock on the van door, if you hadn’t had an epileptic seizure first, such was the frantic flashing.

Never one to give up, Colin searched around for a different driver that would twinkle more and flash less. Eventually he hit the jackpot and the first 8 Ball Camper conversions Starlight ceiling was fitted into the bed base of the customer’s T6 van and it looked great. In fact it looked so good that a friend of ours had one put into his new T6 a few weeks ago too. It’s been a massive hit with the family and apparently his famously lively kids will now happily settle down and watch the lights twinkle as they drift off to sleep.

This leads us to our latest customer, who picked up on the idea and took it one stage further. “I’d like a starlight ceiling to remind me of a really special time. Can I have the night sky over Naples please?”

So the customer researched the sky, finding the exact view of the constellation they wanted and sent over a photo. We then had the photo enlarged onto a giant vinyl sheet and Colin set to work transferring this onto the bed board.

Using the vinyl as a template, he started with the biggest stars and for each one he drilled a tiny hole in the bed board and fed through an individual strand from the fibre optic bundle. Next he did the medium sized starts and finally the smallest, until he’d used up all 200 strands. Each strand was taken from a different part of the bundle, so that any two stars next to each other were likely to twinkle at a different time and in a different colour. Its job done, the vinyl sheet was then discarded leaving just the dark blue bed board.

As you can see from the photo, the strands spread out like a fan from the bundle and Alex can be seen feeding individual strands through to the underside, with them temporarily held in place with masking tape. Once completed this was then covered with ply before the mattress ended up on top.

Next Colin ‘shaved’ each strand on the underside of the board, so that they couldn’t really be seen when not turned on; hence you don’t even realise they are there.

And then with the flick of a switch the stars above Naples suddenly appear. Magic.

3 Weeks, 3 Roofs – Week 3 – SCA

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This is our third and final blog on “Which pop-top roof is the best?” and this week it’s the turn of the SCA roof.

SCA
We fitted an SCA pop-top roof to a SWB VW T6.

SCA are a German company who have been making pop top roofs since 1980.

sca-pop-top-roof

How did it arrive?

SCA roofs are available only in white, so for most owners the first job is to send the roof off for painting before it is fitted. To be really well painted the canvas needs to be removed or alternatively only the upper roof and front pod section are painted after very careful masking.

The installation

The first thing you notice about an SCA roof is its weight. The roof itself is a heavy lump and there is a fairly heavy galvanised frame that fits into the roof opening as well. Compared to the Reimo roof featured in the last blog, it’s more time consuming to install. Not difficult, just a bit more of a faff. The metal frame is fitted to the vehicle first, using rivets and bonding and then the upper frame is bonded down.

Fit and finish

The SCA roof looks to be good quality and with a very good overall finish. As with the Reimo roof, there is no extra trimming needed inside the van, although to tie it into our interior we did trim the lower section which can be seen when the roof is down. The bed itself is a very smart thing on sprung lats, making it very comfortable, although it may feel a little flimsy to some.

What does it look like?

Once installed it looks good and unlike the Reimo roof there are no obtrusive screws showing on the outside of the vehicle. It is still taller than an Austops roof though and this means that on our van the resulting overall height was over 2 metres with the SCA roof. So low barriers beware!

How does it operate?

To put the roof up you unclip a couple of safety straps and then turn two large turnbuckles. These are quite stiff to operate, so those with arthritic fingers may find it a struggle. Then, as with other roofs you simply push up and the 4 gas struts do the rest.

To pull the roof down, you grab hold of the 2 handles in the roof unless you’re short, when you need to use the 2 straps instead. You have to pull quite hard to offset the action of the 4 gas struts and this may be a problem. For me it’s easy, however a featherweight may find it more challenging and I have visions of an energetic pensioner doing pull ups rather than actually getting the roof down.

As with the Reimo roof it’s not really possible to pull the roof down in stages, making it hard to get the front window folded neatly and there isn’t much space in which to fold the window either. Dropping the roof is very quick, but then you have to turn the two fairly stiff turn buckles and clip in the safety straps too.

What’s it like to live with?

The canvas is good quality and everything looks nice. The bed is very comfortable and the lat design really helps here. Whether children would notice how good the bed is I’m not sure, but for those of us of more mature years, it’s nice. I do wonder what its maximum weight rating is however, as the lats seem very thin and then there is just a very thin layer of ply underneath before you are downstairs.

Cost

Just like the Reimo roof, it’s an expensive option and costs about £4000 plus vat once fitted.  The roof carries a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Warranty

This SCA roof comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros:

You can fit a roof rack to it with a maximum weight of 70kg.
It needs very little trimming after installation.
Nice bed.

Cons:

Costly.
Relatively high profile makes the van tall when the roof is lowered.
4 gas struts make it quite demanding to lower.

So which of the three is best?

I was expecting it to be a close thing and a real struggle to find choose the best. However once I’d put them up and down a few times my decision was made for me. In all honesty I’d opt for the Austops roof. It’s less expensive, easier to pull down and it’s slimmer than the others, so you can use more car parks. The fact that it’s made in the UK is an added bonus too.

Don’t get me wrong, both the Reimo and SCA roofs are very good and perhaps on close inspection some people may see why they cost more. The fact that they cost so much more however seems unwarranted. I’d spend the difference on more options for my conversion and then buy a few crates of wine with the rest of the money I’d saved.

3 Weeks, 3 Roofs – Week 2 – Reimo

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Last week we reviewed the Austops scissor hinge pop top roof. This week is the turn of the Reimo V tech easy fit roof with open sky option, which we fitted to a brand new SWB VW T6.

Reimo are a well-known and well respected German company producing a number of items for the camping leisure market.

How did it arrive?
The roof arrived in white gel coat and our van was red. It seems Reimo roofs are available only in white, so for most owners the first job is to send it off to the paint shop before you can begin.

The installation
The Reimo roof looked to be very easy to fit, as the entire unit is pre-built and all a converter needs to do is to cut a large hole in the roof of the van and then drop the entire unit into the hole. Obviously it’s a bit more complex than that, but the installation was fairly simple. Once located, the unit is bonded and bolted into place largely using existing bolt holes usually used for roof bars.

Fit and finish
The Reimo roof seems to be very well made and the overall finish is excellent. In our example the front pod section wasn’t exactly the same profile as the van’s roof, but with a bit of care and effort the resulting look is good. The fact that the roof unit comes in one piece means that it’s almost completely finished off once fitted and there is very little, if any additional trimming required inside the van.

What does it look like?
Externally it is a little taller than some roofs and on our van the resulting overall height was over 2 metres. As some car parks have 2m height barriers, this could be a problem and many camper van owners want to garage their vehicle too, so the slimmer the better.
The front pod section is a fairly common design and it looks fine. My greatest bugbear about the look is that there are 4 large screw heads which are visible near the front of the pop-top itself, inside is pretty much free of any visible fixings though.

How does it operate?
To put the roof up you loosen and remove the two securing straps, unclip the cross elastic and then push the roof up on its gas struts. The bed pushes up in a similar manner and the roof is up in no time at all.

To pull the roof down, if you are tall you grab hold of the 2 handles in the roof and pull down. If you’re short, you use the 2 straps instead. Once it’s down you have to feed a couple of straps through securing locks, which is a bit of a faff to be honest and then pull them quite tight to ensure the roof is down fully.
It’s not really possible to pull the roof down in stages; it’s all or nothing. So if you want to carefully fold the front window neatly it’s tricky to do with the Reimo roof. Also there is very little room to neatly fold the front section of canvas, meaning that it’s easy to pull the roof down and end up with a big flap of material hanging out of the front. As with everything though, you soon get used to it and it’s possible to get a fairly neat look after a bit of practice.

What’s it like to live with?
The fact that you can fully open the canvas is a great gimmick and I guess, a real selling point. I’m not sure how much you’d actually use it in the UK though; after all how many people want to be seen by the entire campsite as they do the washing up? And given the British summer, it’s not much use in driving rain. However, if it’s July in a remote area of the Alpes Maritimes, I guess it would be great to look out on a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea as you dry last night’s dishes.

The bed is a flat board operating on a hinge when raised. The canvas seems good quality and everywhere inside the roof feels very well finished.

So a Reimo roof coupled with a quality conversion should give you a very pleasing van indeed.

Cost
And now the bad news; this Reimo roof is a costly option and is priced at over £4000 + vat when fitted.

Warranty
This Reimo roof comes with a 7 year warranty on the shell itself, a 1 year warranty on the canvas and a 3 year warranty on everything else (complicated eh?)

So to sum up

Pros:
Needs very little trimming after installation
Panoramic opening
Can accept a roof rack up to 60kg

Cons:
Costly
Relatively high profile makes the van tall when the roof is lowered.
A bit of a faff to lower and secure before a journey.

3 Weeks, 3 Roofs – Week 1 – Austops

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We are often asked “Which poptop roof is the best for a VW t5 or T6?” and to be honest that’s a matter of opinion. As we only fit TUV approved roofs, that narrows the field somewhat; but to be in a better position to advise customers, we decided to build 3 vans with 3 different TUV approved roofs. This has allowed us to offer an objective comparison on both how easy they are to fit and more importantly for customers, what they are actually like.
So here we go.

We will start with Austops, which is a British company based near Selby in Yorkshire.
We fitted a white SWB T6 with a standard Austops scissor hinge roof.

How did it arrive?
A key feature of an Austops roof is that non-metallic colours can be colour coded to your van in the gel coat at the production stage. This saves the time and expense of having to get your roof painted before it’s fitted. Sadly this option isn’t possible for metallic finishes, so if you want a metallic colour the roof must be painted first. However Austops will get this done for you in advance, so that when your roof arrives it is immediately ready for fitting, which is a great help in comparison to other manufacturers.

The installation
The Austops roof has a frame made up of a number of component parts. There is a well-engineered powder coated front frame that is installed above the front headlining, a powder coated rear frame and two galvanised side frames that are fitted during installation. This means that there is slightly less manhandling of heavy frames in comparison to other roofs, as you do one piece at a time rather than a whole frame assembly in one go. There is also no nose cone to fit, so that’s one less job to worry about too.

What does it look like?
In a word; slim. The roof adds very little to the overall height of the vehicle, which means that on our van it still fits under a 2 metre height barrier. I was at IKEA last week and unlike almost every other camper there, ours could use the multi-story car park rather than having to use the commercial vehicle park. Being under 2m is a massive advantage when on holiday too, as you should be able to get into most supermarket car parks rather than having to park some distance away out on the street.

How does it operate?
To raise the roof you loosen the long Austops straps and push, the gas struts do the rest. You then need to reach in and unclip a cross elastic before you push the bed up. This is easy enough, but if you have a twin front passenger seat with no seat swivel, you do need to be something of a contortionist to reach in. It’s far easier if there is only a single passenger seat, as you then have room to stand between the two front seats to turn round.

To lower the roof, you first lower the bed, replace the elastic and then pull down on the straps equally. One advantage of this roof is that you can pull it down a little at a time, allowing you to carefully fold the front window. Also, as there is no nose cone there is a lot of space in which to fold the window. This means fewer creases and ultimately a better look and longer service life I guess. Once the roof is down, there are no more clips or straps to mess about with and all you have to do is push the strap ends up out of the way.

What’s it like to live with?
The upper area around the frame comes untrimmed, so there is a bit of extra work to do here in comparison to other roofs. The upside is that once trimmed the finished roof feels like it’s a part of the conversion rather than being a large fibreglass tub which has been inserted into the van like some other roofs.
The bed board is 12mm birch ply, so it’s relatively light but it feels substantial. You don’t worry about it collapsing after eating a few too many pies.
The canvas is pretty much fully waterproof and it seems to cope well with British weather.
Cost
The Austops roof is very competitively priced and the fact that in a flat colour it can be colour coded to your van at no extra cost also saves you even more. We currently charge (for a SWB van) £2,300 + vat for a flat colour and £2,700 + vat for a metallic finish.

Warranty
The Austops roof comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Pros:
It’s slim and our van fits under a 2m height barrier. The roof can be lowered a bit at a time, making folding the window much easier
It is very competitively priced

Cons:
It requires final trimming around the upper section of the frame once installed. You need to reach into roof space to attach the elastic cross strap
Not recommended for a roof rack

Next week is the turn of the Reimo V tech easy fit and finally the SCA roof will be the week after that, along with our conclusion as to which we think is the best.

8 BALL CAMPER CONVERSIONS RANGE CLICK HERE TO VIEW