Base vehicle: VW Transporter T6 Price from: £41,995 (as shown on 19-plate van) Berths: 4 Travel seats: 5 Length: 8.89m Width: 1.90m Height: 2.10m Maximum weight: 2,600kg Payload: N/A
VW camper market seems to become ever more crowded by the week, with a vast array of converters all offering – on the face of it – quite similar designs. Of course, pedigree, quality, practicality and even safety standards vary enormously, but how should an all-new brand set itself out to be different in this sector?
Well, Tribe Campers thinks it has the answer. Based at the intriguing-sounding Engine Yard, at Nottinghamshire’s Belvoir Castle, this is a series of buildings originally used as specialist workshops making furniture, windows and doors for the castle in the early nineteenth century. Today, they’ve been restored and house a rural retail village that’s become a centre of excellence for food and drink. It’s here that Tribe Campers are designed – by you.
James (sales and design) takes customers through the many choices of fabrics, furniture, flooring, etc – a whole wall of samples making your selections very personal. Choices made, James designs your campervan on a computer, so you can see it, virtually, and be sure of your decisions before it’s actually made.
You can take a test drive and even make a cuppa in a demonstrator Tribe camper – ideal, perhaps, for those new to campervans – but the company does not keep stock vehicles. Every camper is built to order.
The conversion itself is not carried out by Tribe, although it will usually source base vehicles (always VW T6 but new or used, short or long-wheelbase). Each one is built by Camper King and Tribe promises a four-week turnaround from design to finished camper.
The example shown here is an East Edition, built on a 19-plate Highline van with the 101bhp (102PS) engine and five-speed manual gearbox. It has a classic side kitchen layout and carries a £41,995 price tag. Tribe says its vehicles typically retail for somewhere around £35k to £44k.
The galley here has a 50-litre compressor fridge and Dometic combined sink and hob unit, plus (more unusually) a separate grill. There are generous top lockers above the side window with built-in touch-to-operate spotlights illuminating the worktop.
There’s a decent amount of preparation space to the right of the sink, followed by a small wardrobe with back and side access in the rear corner. A steel box below houses a single Campingaz cylinder, and the RCD unit is in the wardrobe.
The rear seat is Camper King’s design and pulls out easily to make a 1.83m by 1.09m double bed. The way it folds, however, severely limits storage for bedding (and other gear) in the boot area, leaving just the under-mattress section (usually for outdoor clobber). Pushed back into seat mode, it has integral headrests but seems very short in the squab. The alternative RIB seat is offered as an option.
For dining, the table attaches to a rail on the front of the galley, and then stores away behind the driver’s seat for travel. If you’re feeling chilly, there’s Eberspächer diesel-fired heating.
Of course, this is just one example of how a Tribe camper can look and the fledgling company already has a range of four models on offer. In addition to this East Edition, there are North, South and West Editions, each with the same layout but a different emphasis. The West Edition is a standard camper while the North Edition is said to be for outdoor pursuits and comes with a solar panel, roof bars and diesel heating.
The East Edition is the high-spec one with 20in alloys and the South Edition is more retro, with two-tone paint and a 60s vibe.
Tribe Campers is a new brand, having set up only last August. Run by James (sales and design), Verity (sales and warranty) and Gem (build management), it aims to provide very bespoke VW campervans, which are then made by Camper King.
Tribe Campers sells direct from its premises at Belvoir Castle in Nottinghamshire. Its address – the Engine Yard – is also a rural retail village where you can find homeware, clothing and gifts, as well as a community hub with events and workshops going on.