Base vehicle: VW SWB Transporter T6.1 Travel seats: 4/5 Berths: 2/4 Maximum weight: 3,000kg Payload: N/A Length: 4.89m Width: 1.90m Height: 2.05m Price from: £16,950 (conversion only), as tested: £79,500 (including base vehicle)
It’s great to see a small company developing a showcase to demonstrate to customers what it can do away from the traditional options list.
This model, which the manufacturer Knights Custom Conversions describes as superb, has a conversion-only price of £55,693, although a standard model starts from a modest £16,950, based on the SWB VW.
This specific van is built on a VW T6.1 with Highline trim, the 148bhp (150PS) engine and DSG gearbox.
There’s plenty to admire. It sports 20in Veemann alloys and an ABT lower splitter and front grille. The Koni Active suspension and the H&R 40mm lowering springs complete the an external finish that Knights says is "striking".
In addition, there’s also a bike rack on the back, a solar panel on the roof and a Thule Omnistor 4900 awning with built-in dimmable LED lights on the side. Outdoor chairs sit in a pocket, VW California-style, on the inside of the tailgate. "The creative use of space leaves nothing out," adds Knights.
Stepping on board, you’ll find a unique campervan layout. The kitchen, developed through five years of experience, was first designed by MD Jonathan for his 2019 showvan and has proved to be the most popular to date.
Equipped with a Reimo Variotech 3000 seat system fitted on bonded rails and offering three seatbelts. This is an upgrade from the RIB two-seater bench that’s fitted as standard, but it allows you to slide the seat forward for travel or to increase the boot storage options and then back for increased living area once on site.
The seats, both front and rear, are covered in sumptuous Nappa leather, hard wearing and with a feel that will leave you in no doubt as to why it is used in high end vehicles. The ones featured in the demonstrator were made to order and show a laser etched brown Alcantara underneath.
For something with a 'wow' factor, Knights say they chose a 100-year-old burr oak plank, inverting it so the inside straight edges are outside, then filling the gap between the two with a bronze and black resin, in a river effect.
There’s also a microwave to complement the optional Thetford induction hob, a Vitrifrigo drawer fridge (that item is standard), reading lights on stalks with integrated USB points, dimmable ceiling and perimeter LED lights, a further double USB socket and a tablet holder in the rising roof that has two more USB points. Heating comes from a Webasto diesel-fired unit.
The colour-coded roof, a Reimo product, rises electrically at the push of a remote control and the canvas folds in on itself automatically when closing. Who wouldn’t love the ease of this hassle-free option?
The power required to satisfy the needs of those gadgets comes from the Clayton LPS 2,500W off-grid power supply system, which has a 100Ah lithium ferrous (LiFePO4) battery. This can be charged from the mains or the VW’s alternator.
It is also topped up by the three 100W flexible solar panels fitted to the rising roof (with a Smart Victron MPPT controller, too). The Clayton system is a £2,750 option, while the solar panels are £1,495.
Built-in WiFi, a sliding door flyscreen, rear Bluetooth speakers, an exterior shower, plus sprung slats and a Duvalay mattress for the roof bed are just a few more options fitted here.
Conversions can be acquired for less than this one, but the level of thought that’s gone into the way a modern-day campervan owner would use their vehicle is impressive. After all, who doesn’t travel with thousands of USB-powered gadgets in 2020?
Owned and run by Jonathan Nightingale, Knights was founded five years ago. With a passionate for design and creation and a love of all things Volkswagen, it formed into an obsession for MD Jonathan, who says: “I live and breathe my job, second only to my wife and three children. It’s a bug even my children are catching, with my oldest (who is seven years old) already designing his own and drawing campers every night and talking about interior layouts.
“As a company we have pushed the products we use to the highest standard. We only fit Reimo Pop tops as we believe in the quality. The same goes for the Reimo Variotech 3000 sliding bed system, the RIB Altair beds with the TUV approved strengthening bars, and Webasto Night heaters. Our parts are certainly not the cheapest on the market, but the quality is there to match the cost.
We are currently working on a unique VW Crafter Conversion, which I’m very excited about. It’s going to be a good six to nine-month project, but I cannot wait for the results.”
The dedicated team at Knights includes head joiner Vincent and new CNC operator and programmer, Tony.
You can only get a Knights Custom Conversions camper from the factory and most models are built to order and tailored to the customers’ individual requirements.
As well as the model shown, there are two other packages to choose from, the Ocean Breeze with an L-shaped kitchen unit and wider bed, and the Woodland Glade, which has a slightly different kitchen to the Prestige Tourer seen here.
Knights Custom Conversions, Units 2-5 Seas End Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE12 6LD