The VW EuroVan is a rad vintage-looking camper, which packs a lot of comforts in its small shell. It’s a boxy-looking bus with square lines, which give it that typical ’80s look.
The EuroVan has been around since the early ’90s for about 10 years, so there are quite a few of them out on the road today. Every VW bus owner gets lots of compliments at the campground or boondocking spot. But is it a good vehicle to live the van life in?
In this article we take an objective look at this cult van, which has been celebrated as a fantastic RV across the U.S. and Europe, and for good reason, for decades.
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What is a EuroVan camper?
The VW EuroVan is a sturdy, old-school-looking van made by Volkswagen. It was originally called T4 in Europe and exported to the U.S. as the “EuroVan” between 1992 and 2003. In 2003 VW quit importing them because they didn’t sell very well in the States, so you can only find older used ones on the market.
Many van lifers have chosen the T4 as their home on wheels, due to its strength and durability.
The T4 was manufactured in many designs and sizes – as a panel van, as a kombi (or half-panel) and as a EuroVan, with windows all around and 3 rows of seats. It came with either a 115in or a 131in wheelbase and there was a 4WD drive option.
The iconic van has developed an avid following across the world over the decades, with meet-ups being organized regularly in the U.S., too. In the States Winniebago Industries professionally converted the camper van since the early 90s.
In Canada the T4 was named Westfalia (also called Westie), as they were camperized by a contractor called Westfalia-Werke. Some people bought the non-camperized version and self-converted it themselves to save some cash.
What You’ll Find in a VW EuroVan interior
The cabin is pretty standard, although you will feel like you’re a lot further forward than you normally are in a car. The side doors slide backwards, offering a wide entrance, while the back door is a hatch, which allows you to access a good-sized storage.
The van has up to three rows of seats, which can be pulled forward and dropped down flat or swivelled to face backwards. Under the last row of seats there’s storage.
Volkswagen EuroVans which were originally converted by Winniebago are fully camperized. Typically, as you get into one of them, you will see a galley right in front of you and one or two rows of seats. These turn into a bed.
The kitchenette features a decent counter, a two-burner gas hob, a fridge, a small sink, various cabinets and cupboards and a few drawers. The fridge works on gas, the van’s 12V battery or shore power. The sink is connected to a plumbing system with grey water collection.
Camperized T4s feature a pop-top with an incorporated fan, which is essential. It creates extra space, increases headroom and allows you to leave your gear in the van at night.
The best bit? You don’t have to take the bedding out of the bed in the morning. Simply close the roof to get on the road and open it back up at your destination.
Winniebago models also feature a propane-powered furnace, which works great for keeping the van warm year-round, even when the pop-top is up. Between the driver’s seat and the kitchenette, there are two foldable tables, which you can set up inside the van.
As the captain seats swivel, you can eat as a group of four people around them. They slide across the kitchen surface, which is very helpful.
At the back of the mini RV, on the left, there is a big cupboard with a hangrod and shelves in which you can store your clothes and other gear. There is more storage at the back, under the platform bed. To make the bed more even and comfortable, the camperized T4 comes with a trifold mattress, which is stored in the back during the day.
Westfalias had very similar floor plans, with the galley on the left hand side, a pop-top and collapsable seats.
Bear in mind that the models evolve through the years, so not all EuroVans have the same exact floor plan. Some don’t have a galley, which provides a bigger platform for the bed in the back, but still feature a tip-out roof.
EuroVans which weren’t converted by Winniebago or Westfalia have either been left setup as minivans, with three rows of seats, or have been self-converted by their owners. For this reason, there are slight variations between different T4s.
How many people fit in a Volkswagen EuroVan camper?
Four people is the absolute maximum amount of people who can travel and sleep on it. To achieve this, you’d need to use the pop-top and the couch-bed at the same time. Bear in mind that living and sleeping space is very limited, so it’s more suitable to a couple or a solo traveler.
Volkswagen EuroVan pros and cons
Just like any vehicle, the VW EuroVan has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at them in detail.
- It’s very manoeuvrable and narrow, allowing you to travel anywhere
- You can park it almost anywhere
- The back door is a hatch, which allows you to access your gear easily and use a shower
- If you don’t open the pop-top, you can get away camping in some small towns
- The 4WD drive model allows you to access remote places
- For such a small van, it’s very comfortable
- You can fit an emergency toilet in the rear, under the bed
- The engine is fairly reliable and easy to fix and maintain
- It looks retro, which will help you make new friends at campgrounds
- You can use it to go to work during the week, as it’s so compact
- The rear windows open to create ventilation
- It has front air conditioning and a heater.
- Interior space is limited
- The beds are narrow, so there isn’t much room to sleep
- Not many mechanics will be able to work on it
- There isn’t much headroom, unless it has a tip-out roof
- It can be quite expensive and it’s not very easy to find
- Some people think this van isn’t reliable enough to go on long road trips
- Older models have small engines, which aren’t ideal on motorways and long trips.
How much is a EuroVan camper?
Prices go anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 depending on the year of manufacturing, mileage and condition of the vehicle.
Where to buy a EuroVan camper
You can find a VW EuroVan for sale on many websites. These include:
- RV Trader
Don’t forget to do a simple Google search for “EuroVan camper for sale” – people tend to list their van on any site that will allow them to do it for free.
Scan the categories and listings carefully. Take time to check that the seller is serious and everything is in order before making the trip to see the van.
Some dealers occasionally buy and resell EuroVans. These tend to be in better condition and have fewer miles. Of course, they will be more costly than those sold privately, but they should come with a guarantee.
Tips to buy a VW T4
If you’re looking for a EuroVan you need to have patience and be ready to travel in order to find the right one. You may have to widen the location for your search, as T4s aren’t very easy to find. Most owners hold onto them dearly and aren’t willing to sell them, as they are such a quirky vehicle with a huge personality.
Bear in mind you will likely want to put a little bit of cash into the van before you hit the road for your first long road trip. Every van lifer wants to make a new vehicle feel like their own after testing it, as it will become their nomadic home. It can be little things, such as curtains, or bigger items, like a solar power system.
Factor this into your budget before you commit to buying it.
Do EuroVans hold their value?
Absolutely. Unlike newer vans and cars, this cult minivan is a classic and will not go down in value. You may even make some cash when you resell yours. So if you plan to go on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip before settling down, you can rest assured you can resell the vehicle once you are ready to go back home.
EuroVan camper rentals
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a T4, we recommend renting one first. This will allow you to test the space available in the van, especially at night.
You will also be able to see how you like the engine and the 4WD drive capabilities of the vehicle. It is an older van, after all. You can’t expect it to perform like a brand new Sprinter.
Here are the top places where to rent a EuroVan:
Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer rental platform, which connects van owners and campers. If you browse the listings by vehicle type and location you will find some VW vans for rent around the country. Compare the reviews of the van and owner before booking. Head over to the Outdoorsy website to have a look at current listings.
Rocky Mountain Campervans
This van rental company is based in Denver, Colorado, and Las Vegas, Nevada. They offer EuroVan Weekenders, Tin Tops and Full Campers for hire. Each van comes with all the camping equipment you need, such as bedding and kitchenware. Find out more on the Rocky Mountain Campervans website.
Vintage Safari Wagons
VW Surfari specialize in renting out VW buses out of Costa Mesa, California. Each van in their fleet is very well maintained. They have a 3-day minimum rent policy and you can only pick up your van during office hours.
Check out the Vintage Surfari Wagons website for more information. Here , you can see their booking calendar, where you can see which van is available throughout the year.
RV Share is a peer-to-peer van rental website. Among a huge variety of van models available for rent, you can find the occasional VW bus. Search for EuroVans for rent in the U.S. on the RV Share website.
The Volkswagen EuroVan is a quirky-looking bus that’s ideal for van lifers who want a compact and nimble vehicle to call home. The typical floor plan is super functional for the limited space available inside this vehicle.
To make one of these little retro beauties your home, you need to be completely in love with this model and its quirks – from the older engine to the narrow wheelbase. They are perfect for solo van lifers or minimalist couples who don’t need a wide bed.
If you feel you need some extra space, check out these incredible Mercedes Metris conversions and consider a Sprinter, Ford Transit or Ram Promaster camper.
Jenn Garden says
Hi, Elena, I curse the day I found your blog, ONLY because I find it so useful, that instead of cleaning my place that I have told myself for months, going on to a year, to do, I am reading all your articles instead and have so many suggestions. First, regarding the fact of upkeep of the Eurovan, not only are mechanics hard to find, but parts are too, friend of mine had to order one from Germany, shipping was $70.
Although Craigslist (go to the Tempest website to see them in more than one city) is a good place to find them, there is a website especially for those who want VW products, called ..thesamba.com. Go to classifieds, scroll down to Eurovan and then on the right side, it will let you choose the location. As was said, there are places that sell refurbished ones, Poptop Haven is one in CA. I found them not friendly and TDI in WA., their Yelp reviews are strange, older ones are terrible, but I guess they sold it to a woman who revamped the business so recent ones are quite good but prices are very high.
Do your research, on a CL ad, one touted the one he was selling, saying this one made in the 90’s was the best because for one year they had a certain engine, others replaced the original engine with a Suburu engine, others tout the the ones made from 2000-2003, important though I think, is get them the years they had airbags. Since VW put them in before they were mandated in the U.S. you should ask the owner whether or no theirs have it. They have a forum for that and you can find other ones like on RV sites that may have Eurovans on a subject line.
I wanted one for years, even had a person selling his (including an extra tent and many accessories) for the low 20’s offer to drive it down over 100 miles and he had a relative in my area, but hesitated for the reasons mentioned above. I would say go to a location like San Diego where they had many for sale, but saw that they were hired priced due to the popularity of people in the beach town for it, there was one in San Luis Obispo where maybe the cultish desire for one isn’t so great, so it was cheaper. With Samba’s classifieds you can very easily see many locations. There is also a site where people can list for free, called thevancamper.com, that also have a few (one person just put it under van and kept it that way, although I had wrote him and said he could more easily sell it if he put Eurovan.)
Be willing to be flexible, I wanted a weekender, I like it’s simplicity and compactness but the age and price for it put me off, I ended buying a renovated Jucy Van, for a 2012 I have some of the latest safety features, like side airbags and parking sensors and got if for under 7K, yes there are quirks but not major ones. They are a Dodge minvan that has not the transmssion problems of some other Chrysler vans and parts are easy to get and mechanics know how to fix them. (You’ll see some of my posts on those websites.) I like them so much , that I have thought of buying a whole bunch and renting them out as the original Jucy company pulled out of the U.S. but then that would mean me staying home and not traveling!
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