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Why did you choose California instead of a bigger panel van conversion?

kurienp

kurienp

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As many have said, we did not want a monolith parked up ... which would be only used a few days of the year.

We also wanted to stay with 2 vehicles and that meant one of the cars had to go (mine!)

I wanted a vehicle that I could drive daily as well as use for trips - a Cali fitted the bill.

The longest we have been out in it has been 3 weeks to Nordkapp and it was lovely.

It is all about how you adjust your life around the Cali. We have a shower tent and portable toilet so we are self-sufficient on long trips as well as short ones.
 
willwander

willwander

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You can park a Cali most places you can park a car, means you can use as a daily driver and gives you a lot of freedom to move around and explore when we go away. Having said that, sometimes I would quite like a bigger van, I keep looking at swb sprinters/crafters size.
 
Kayleigh

Kayleigh

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London
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T6 Beach 150
We purchased our Beach as a replacement and upgrade for an ageing Touran. We only have one vehicle so it needs to be used for everything. As a day van it’s just brilliant. For longer journeys it’s comfortable and relaxed to drive. For holidays it has streamlined the amount of gear we need to take compared to camping. It helps us feel closer to nature without all those superfluous home comforts we are trying to escape. The Beach really does serve all our needs from a vehicle, and every journey just somehow feels more fun!

For us personally, we have no need or desire for anything bigger, with all the home from home amenities. We are very happy with our purchase :)
 
flying banana

flying banana

T6 Ocean 204ps manual
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doncaster
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Parked up next to my mates ducato van conversion. 4 people came over chatting in the morning. Have a guess which van they were only interested in talking about? The cali is cool. Motorhomes aren't. As for photo opportunities, nothing looks better than a pop top cali at sunrise or sunset. Imagine a panel van in the way?

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Beeechke1

Beeechke1

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Redhill Surrey
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T5 SE 180
As @WelshGas said its where you have come from.
For us Mondeo estate car and large frame tent. Arrive, unpack the car, put up the tent, set up the kitchen, put on extra clothing (well it is the UK in August!) and if your lucky 2 hours have gone and you still don't have a drink in your hand.
OR: California SE (same length on the drive as the Mondeo) Arrive, pop the roof heater on drink in hand - 5 minutes. Happy to move and explore somewhere different after a day or two.
 
capt kirk

capt kirk

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surrey
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We have had vw s from early on. They have always been reliable and comfortable to drive. Go anywhere and economical. When i retired we upgraded to the cali. Yes it was expensive, and yes the tax hurt but i have never regretted it. I can park it on the drive. I can park it on the sea shore or in a field and enjoy the experience. Yes bigger vans have more comfort but they dont always fit in those little places that make you smile and for us that is the essence of owning a cali. Big smile and big experiances. We have recently come back from a two week tour of Scotland and before covid managed a tour of Europe getting as far as Croatia.i have considered bigger vans but still come back to the to the Basic fact that the cali is so adaptable for every day use and when driving feels like a very capable big car. Quiet comfortable and very enjoyable to drive.Sorry if i am rambling but cant express how much we like our van and how much it was the right choice for our needs. Hope that helps
 
chockswahay

chockswahay

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Scotland
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T6.1 Coast 150
Good question.
I wanted to go where a car can go. I've done a lot of canvas tenting in the past and the California is definitely an upgrade. If I want all the amenities of home then I'll stay in a hotel, preferably in the centre of things with parking. Bit difficult in anything over 2m.
Just because you own a campervan doesn't mean you HAVE to stay in it every night.
@WelshGas just enlarged your avatar…. Is that the ‘Arctic Globe’? I’ve only seen it from the ferry……

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soulstyledevon

soulstyledevon

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You can park a Cali most places you can park a car, means you can use as a daily driver and gives you a lot of freedom to move around and explore when we go away. Having said that, sometimes I would quite like a bigger van, I keep looking at swb sprinters/crafters size.

I’ve often thought about it too.
But honestly, the Cali for us is the better overall fit.

I was down in Devon a few weeks ago. The number of Sprinter/Fiat type vans down there was crazy. It’s still borderline winter too.

When you see such numbers of them, you have to sympathise with the locals who say they’re blight on the landscape and take up two parking spots and just generally make the area look a bit gipsy.
I can see some big clamp downs coming this season, restricted parking and 2m barriers…
 
WelshGas

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Last edited:
Phillip T

Phillip T

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Highlands
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T6 Ocean 150
I’ve often thought about it too.
But honestly, the Cali for us is the better overall fit.

I was down in Devon a few weeks ago. The number of Sprinter/Fiat type vans down there was crazy. It’s still borderline winter too.

When you see such numbers of them, you have to sympathise with the locals who say they’re blight on the landscape and take up two parking spots and just generally make the area look a bit gipsy.
I can see some big clamp downs coming this season, restricted parking and 2m barriers…
Visual impact counts, there's a park 4 nite place up 3 miles away we can see from our window, you can count the white motorhomes by naked eye almost but a Cali would go unnoticed especially an iridium grey one.
 
chockswahay

chockswahay

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Scotland
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T6.1 Coast 150
Visual impact counts, there's a park 4 nite place up 3 miles away we can see from our window, you can count the white motorhomes by naked eye almost but a Cali would go unnoticed especially an iridium grey one.
Hmm……I think the only way my van would go unnoticed would be half way up a mountain just on the snow line in a grass field :D

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sapto

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Coming from Interrail, tent, in-car-sleeping mix with hostels&hotels a 9year old California was back in 2015 the best option we could get and afford to be as flexibel as we used to be. Still love it, use it as often as possible.
Edit: I looked at some used Ducatos and Marco Polos however as a couple of friends had a VW I went for it.
 
J

Jim2007

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England
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T6 Ocean 199 4 motion
Pretty much all the reasons stated so far for us.

But also one that doesn’t get mentioned quite so often is that it’s a cracking vehicle for just a simple day out in the country.

Put you boots on in comfort. Sit out a rain shower. Get changed if you want. Make a cup
of tea and a toasted sandwich. And in winter put the heating on.

Another is that if you have to wait somewhere for your partner (shop, hospital, business appointment etc) slide in to back, stretch out, tea, book, podcast whatever. It’s just a nice place to be when killing time and watching the world go by, and by and large the world doesn’t know you’re there.

On longer trips (9 weeks is our record) we find that a hotel room every fortnight is a good interlude that we enjoy. TBH I feel a bit more ‘refreshed’ after a hotel shower than I do a campsite shower.

As with all things though, each to their own. What’s right for us is not necessarily right for everyone else.

We love our van and cannot imagine changing it for many years yet.
 
Bellcrew

Bellcrew

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Lymington
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T6 Ocean 150
Coming from Interrail, tent, in-car-sleeping mix with hostels&hotels a 9year old California was back in 2015 the best option we could get and afford to be as flexibel as we used to be. Still love it, use it as often as possible.
Edit: I looked at some used Ducatos and Marco Polos however as a couple of friends had a VW I went for it.
We have owned a big white but found we never used the onboard shower, just made the van so drippy, the toilet was just a fixed version of a porta potti that also lives in a cupboard, still sooo antisocial to use for number 2s unless it is an "emergency". Everything else is just a compromise, too big, too slow, too high, storage sites are foul and expensive, of course you end up needing a car to get there and for general use
Happy to tour for weeks in the Cali particularly on the continent, using a camping card, outside school holidays absolutely no problem finding super sites, just wandering around, having a look at fellow campers reviews and picking the best option in the area we will be visiting. Never pay more than 21 euros for some outstanding facilities. We always sleep upstairs, bags of room downstairs and with the easy operation of the awning and accompanying enclosure panels if staying for a few days, takes minutes to be settled, fabulous.
 
soulstyledevon

soulstyledevon

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Pretty much all the reasons stated so far for us.

But also one that doesn’t get mentioned quite so often is that it’s a cracking vehicle for just a simple day out in the country.

Put you boots on in comfort. Sit out a rain shower. Get changed if you want. Make a cup
of tea and a toasted sandwich. And in winter put the heating on.

Another is that if you have to wait somewhere for your partner (shop, hospital, business appointment etc) slide in to back, stretch out, tea, book, podcast whatever. It’s just a nice place to be when killing time and watching the world go by, and by and large the world doesn’t know you’re there.

On longer trips (9 weeks is our record) we find that a hotel room every fortnight is a good interlude that we enjoy. TBH I feel a bit more ‘refreshed’ after a hotel shower than I do a campsite shower.

As with all things though, each to their own. What’s right for us is not necessarily right for everyone else.

We love our van and cannot imagine changing it for many years yet.

True.
I’m at the stage of life, where it’s football club, karate, swimming etc etc.
If we can’t cycle or the weathers bad. It’s back to the van, cup of tea and chill. I get lots of envious parents asking about the van.
They made the mistake of buying the Chelsea Tractor to impress the neighbours, when they should’ve bought something more practical…
 
Corradobrit

Corradobrit

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Europe
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Looking to buy
We have owned a big white but found we never used the onboard shower, just made the van so drippy, the toilet was just a fixed version of a porta potti that also lives in a cupboard, still sooo antisocial to use for number 2s unless it is an "emergency". Everything else is just a compromise, too big, too slow, too high, storage sites are foul and expensive, of course you end up needing a car to get there and for general use
Happy to tour for weeks in the Cali particularly on the continent, using a camping card, outside school holidays absolutely no problem finding super sites, just wandering around, having a look at fellow campers reviews and picking the best option in the area we will be visiting. Never pay more than 21 euros for some outstanding facilities. We always sleep upstairs, bags of room downstairs and with the easy operation of the awning and accompanying enclosure panels if staying for a few days, takes minutes to be settled, fabulous.
My Cali Coast can't come soon enough for all these reasons. :(
 
Bello

Bello

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63
Location
Netherlands
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 150
Being currently without a Cali, and missing it desperately, I would like to add the convenience of it when you doing groceries, just throw it all in there. I can assure you that it is all lot different with a Nissan micra...
Or when helping one of the kids when they move, again, from one appartement to another. I can’t see a great white box doing such things. Counting the days until our new one arrives! (21)
 
chockswahay

chockswahay

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T6.1 Coast 150
Every one of the reasons put forward so far is valid and noteworthy and in our case contributed to our purchase of our Coast. However I think something not often mentioned is how long you intend to stay away from campsites/civilisation/toilets (!) etc.

In our previous vans we used to tour across Europe generally using the Aire type places that the Europeans do so well, these rarely include toilets so our onboard built in bathroom/loo was useful and instant. We have only spent 4 nights away so far in this van where we needed our own independent facilities (loo! haha) and I would say that by comparison it is simply not as convenient as before. Now, having said that, I would say that there is something almost quite ‘regal’ about sitting on the throne in the middle of the van with the blinds down in a ‘semi’ public place :D……the down side to this is that it does require a little forward planning, a little rearranging of the furniture and perhaps a very understanding partner who is either prepared to ‘take a short walk’ or tolerate the rather close up and personal toilet experience :eek:

I am of course making light of this :) but it is a real issue. Although this is not (and wasn’t meant to be) a ‘toilet thread’ I suspect I might just have opened Pandoras Box on this subject. It is blatantly clear that the vast majority of VW Van users either object to having a loo inside the van, or consider that the possession of one is only for extreme emergencies and (shock horror) never really meant to be used for a poo!

Now this brings me back to ‘use and application’ of the van as opposed to ‘reasons to choose’ the van. We love our California at the moment although I do accept that we are probably still in the honeymoon phase as we have only recently acquired it. We intend to use it as much as possible (when we are not sailing in our wee yacht) but I will confess that I am a tad concerned as to how the whole off grid loo situation will pan out. My wife has had to put up with many things over the years, including cleaning me up when I had a severe bout of sea food related poisoning last year on the boat and passed out on the loo with liquids being expelled at high velocity from every orifice :eek::eek::eek: (sorry team, that was way too much information!) so it’s true to say that there is little between us that should cause any concern or embarrassment.

So the bottom line, if you’ll pardon the pun, is that if I can get over my prejudices then really we should be good to go (sorry, that was not meant to be a pun)

All in all? I am really hoping the van will work for us. By the way my wife thinks I’m nuts! she loves it (I mean really loves it) and says I am worrying over trivia.

There we go, that’s today’s therapy session done :D
 
Mowbotman

Mowbotman

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Hawes
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T5 SE 180
We have had about 6 caravans and 7 motor homes ( 3 Hymers - 2 Murvi morrelos - nissan elgrand conversion) and now our 1st Cali, which i have had on my list, we recently moved from Nottingham to Hawes and sold the Murvi as parking space near our shop is no good for anything larger than a cali, after living here for the 1st year being in the centre of the dales we missed it so much we part x our car for the nissan elgrand which was far more cheaper than any VW based camper and found out why when trying to sell it and to take a massive loss and then back to a car again, last year we decided to take the plunge and purchased our 2015 california SE biturbo ( no comments please it is wonderful) we are now able to go to either coast in about an 1hr to 1hr 1/2 on our days off which is great and also pop down to Nottingham to see friends & Family with our two dogs , it makes life so much simpler since having it , the only thing is we paid more for this cali than it was when new , and lets face it there are not many vehicles out there that keep there value like this , but as before when we come to sell the bottom will have dropped out of the market ?
 
Ch1pbutty

Ch1pbutty

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Sliding seats + removable kitchen pod was main reason we went for a Beach, as give more flexibility versus majority of conversions. Manual roof is a must as always tend to buy used vans so like to keep things simple.

We owned 3 Cali sized conversions (Viking + Bilbo's) over the years all with built in kitchens, all +15 years old when we sold them with +170k on the clock. Interiors were not as 'polished' as a Cali but they were very sturdy and stood the test of time, even the old 3 way fridges. Camper parts were easy to replace. Always made good money on the resale.

Our recent EV has led to drop in day-to day mileage in the Cali, so may consider a slightly bigger van next time (Hymer, Sven Hedin or similar) to avoid the bedtime shuffle when 3 of us. We tend to be over 2m height as that stuff on the roof most of the time, so its more about the length. That said Campers are very expensive now for so more likely to keep the old Beach and pay a chunk off the mortgage instead!
 
WelshGas

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Campervan = Camp + Van = Tent + Car = Motorised Tent

Motorhome = Motor + Home = Motorised Home.
 
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