Spotlight on.... 8 Ball Camper Conversions
8 Ball Camper Conversions, a company established 15 years ago by trained mechanics and friends, Colin Almond and Mike Hearst, specialises in VW T5 and T6 campervan conversions. Campervan magazine spoke to Company Director Colin, pictured below, to find out more…
1 When did 8 Ball Camper Conversions start out?
Just over 15 years ago now. Both Mike and I are trained mechanics and we worked together at Station Garage, Little Weighton, for years before 8 Ball Camper Conversions was born.
Initially, the camper conversion side of the business started as a bit of a sideline which grew. We saw the quality (or lack of it!) of many campers that came through the garage for repair and thought we could do it better. As time went on, we decided to specialise and 8 Ball grew from this. Today, Station Garage continues as a completely separate vehicle repair business and 8 Ball now occupies purpose-built premises across the road.
2 What sets you apart from the crowd?
Personal service. We spend a lot of time trying to understand how our customers are likely to use their campervan, so that we can advise them accordingly. This means sitting down and really listening; giving the customer the time to think ideas through. Sometimes we are able to offer a suggestion exactly meeting specific needs they’d not even considered. At the same time helping them to save money when they don’t need to spend it on superfluous things that they don’t actually need.
3 How would you sum up the company's ethos and values?
Quality and care. Attention to detail is everything; whether it’s ensuring that a wood grain finish on a cupboard door exactly aligns with the panel next to it, or ensuring that when upper cupboards are opened, the doors all exactly align with each other. It’s the little things like this that make all the difference. We live and breathe campers and over the years we’ve worked out what works well and what does not.
We want to help our customers get the best possible camper for the most reasonable cost.
4 What do you think makes a great campervan conversion?
One that has individuality in it and that has been crafted using the best possible materials. At first glance, VW campervans can seem very similar, especially in terms of their layout and it’s not surprising; there are some layouts that work better than others. By using high-quality materials that meet or exceed international standards, and specifically tailoring the build to meet a customer’s lifestyle, you get a great conversion that will last years and retain its residual value.
5 What's your bestseller?
Although we offer a range of bespoke conversions, the SWB 8 Ball² is still our most popular. This is a conversion that seats two passengers in the back, in addition to those in the front, and sleeps four when set up for the night. It offers a tried and tested layout that suits families and couples alike.
6 Have you got any exciting new developments in the pipeline?
The recent completion of our purpose-built unit has been the most exciting development. For years we were operating from two sites a few miles apart and it has been a joy to get everything in one place in a building designed exactly for the purpose. It’s allowed us to maintain the quality of what we do, but has made us more efficient, which means shorter build times for our customers and more build slots being available, too.
7 What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a campervan?
Do your homework and think carefully about exactly how you want to use your campervan. From this you should be able to build up a list of exactly what you want. After all, the greatest advantage of a bespoke conversion is that it’s a campervan specifically tailored to you.
Just as a well-tailored suit should have the perfect fit and finish, that, too, can be said of a bespoke 8 Ball camper conversion. The biggest difference is that, usually, a tailormade suit costs more than one you just buy off the peg; with an 8 Ball camper conversion, you may well be able to get your tailormade campervan for the same price or even less than a readymade model.
8 What's the most unusual question you've ever been asked by a customer?
I was once asked whether we could build a VW T6 campervan that would comfortably sleep eight people. Now I know they are surprisingly roomy vans, but that’s even beyond us!
9 What's the best campervan trip you've personally undertaken?
I spent a month touring around Europe with my family. We headed over to Geneva and then up into the Alps. From there we went through the Ardeche before heading to the South of France, following the coast eastwards to Andorra. On the return trip we stopped off at La Rochèlle for a while before continuing north to eventually get the ferry home. One of the best holidays of my life.
10 What's the best thing about owning an 8 Ball Camper Conversions campervan?
I guess it’s the fact that when you climb into your campervan three years after having had it converted, it still looks as good as the day you picked it up from us; such is our quality and workmanship.
8 Ball Camper Conversions model range
All 8 Ball's VW campervan conversions are designed and built on-site by Mike and Colin, using good-quality lightweight materials, such as Vöhringer for its soft-close cupboard and unit systems. Its campers are all fully stripped, insulated and repanelled, including the floor with new wood (for heat and sound reduction). As well as its 8 Ball range, the company also offers bespoke day van and campervan conversions.
8 Ball² SWB/LWB campervan
The 8 Ball2 has evolved over the years in many different ways to improve cupboard space, ergonomics and off-grid usage. It’s available on the VW T5, T6 and T6.1 in both short wheelbase and long-wheelbase forms.
The 8 Ball2 camper is a four-berth model with a classic side kitchen layout with a RIB crash-tested rock ‘n’ roll- style bench/bed system. Features include a Waeco compressor fridge, a Smev integrated gas hob and stainless-steel sink, and an inboard fresh water tank. The long-wheelbase version benefits from having that extra little bit of room, and more cupboard space, too.
Prices for the 8 Ball2 SWB start at £12,000 (conversion only) while the LWB version is priced from £14,000.
8 Ball3 SWB/LWB campervan
Providing seating for up to six people, the 8 Ball3 maximises passenger- carrying ability, and also gives a wider bed in the rear. This is thanks to a 130cm-wide RIB Altair rear bench with three seatbelts, and a two-seater cab passenger bench.
As with the 8 Ball2 conversion, the 8 Ball3 is available on the VW T5, T6 or T6.1 in both SWB and LWB options. With a classic side kitchen layout, features found here are the same as in the sibling model.
All 8 Ball campers also benefit from a two-year parts and labour warranty, and there’s a five-year warranty provided on the Austops elevating roof.
Prices start at £14,400 for a short-wheelbase 8 Ball3 (conversion only) while the LWB version is priced from £15,900
8 Ball Camper Conversions
Station Garage, Rowley Road, Little Weighton, East Yorkshire, HU20 3XJ
Tel: 01482 848236