Base vehicle: VW Transporter T6 Price from: £41,995 as shown on 19-plate van (£16,000 for conversion only) Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Length: 4.89m Width: 1.90m Height: 1.99m Gross weight: 2,800kg Payload: TBC
If you’ve always fancied a Volkswagen California but have been put off by the price (from £63,591 for the latest Ocean model), or by the fact that the sliding door is on the UK offside, then the latest conversion from A1 Campers could be just what you’ve been waiting for.
For a start, it uses the California’s two-seater sliding bench, repositioned on the nearside. As anyone who’s used a Cali will know, this crash-tested seat slides to any position you like and is simple to make into a bed (here measuring a generous 2.00m long by 1.14m wide).
A mattress topper is provided for added sleeping comfort. The bench seat also has automotive head restraints and a choice of two backrest angles and, moved forward, provides a huge boot and a more sociable seating layout for travel. It’s set at a more comfortable height than the popular alternative RIB seat, which doesn’t always suit those with shorter legs.
The seat is not the only similarity with the class-leading California, either.
A1’s conversion, like VW’s own, has sliding doors into the main locker space of the galley unit; the reason being, of course, that you can still access this area when the bed’s down, which is a handy feature.
In the forward section, the cupboard is deeper (to house a portable toilet), while the rear part is shelved.
Beyond the hob and sink is a top-loading fridge, too, but, unlike the California, there’s a wide range of furniture finishes available here. It’s a very clean and simple look inside the camper shown here.
Then, in the corner is the usual wardrobe (with a tambour door for easy access), with the leisure battery hidden in its base below a false floor.
Behind the galley (and around the nearside windows) are new wood trim panels, surrounding the curtains on top and bottom rails for effective blackout.
The company is trying to avoid the sometimes-dated appearance resulting from lots of carpet trim on the inside.
Another new feature – and a rare find on a campervan of this size – is a 20-litre underslung LPG gas tank. Not only does that free up space in the camper but it’ll result in cheaper gas refills, too.
The Explorer conversion includes driver and passenger seat swivels as standard and the front seats are like the Cali’s with twin armrests apiece. A double passenger seat
is available as an option from A1, too, which then provides a total of five travel seats.
Base vehicles are usually chosen to be high-spec T6 Transporters, often with the DSG automatic gearbox. This one was a 2019 Trendline van with 101bhp engine and five-speed manual transmission and just delivery mileage. It was fitted with 18in alloys from specialist supplier, WheelWright.
Up top, this example came with a WestDubs M1-tested elevating roof, although A1 more typically uses the renowned German Reimo roof. Other spec included in the £41,995 price of the show model included mains hook-up 12V charging system, and 110Ah leisure battery. USB sockets are provided and the LED lighting is good, including a full-height strip on the rear corner of the wardrobe, a long light over the kitchen and a further lengthy LED strip under the centre of the roof bed.
A flexible-arm reading light is also fitted at the front of the roof, where it can serve upstairs sleepers or the driver’s seat.
This converter can trace its roots back to 2004 when A1 Motorhome Hire commenced trading. The rental business, which still runs separately, lead to selling ex-hire motorhomes and taking part-exchanges, and so the decision was made to start building campervans.
A1 Camper Conversions sells only from its own premises at Nene Valley Business Park in Oundle, not far from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
It is open from Monday to Saturday with Sundays by appointment and it keeps a selection of campers in stock for you to view. As it will build to order, you can pop along to discuss your own requirements.