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

HowieDog

HowieDog

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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?

View attachment 91423

View attachment 91424
I get what you’re saying but some panel vans are prettier than others.

PS we love our Cali but looking forward to a change.
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ejmoore

ejmoore

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We have a California because we need to park it on the street in London, it's our only vehicle, and the sort of places we like to go (down narrow lanes) a bigger van might not fit.

We came from tent camping (small tent) and we live in a small flat, so the California still feels luxurious and comfortable. Ok, some fiddling around is needed keep out of each other's way eg when cooking, but we sleep 'upstairs' so there are effectively two rooms to use.

I'd quite like a slightly bigger van, with a washroom, that you could stand up in without needing to put the roof up. But everything is a compromise, and the California has suited us excellently for ten years. And it looks cool, unlike a 'big white'.
 
Theaps

Theaps

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T6 Beach 150
We had a California beach which we loved but after lugging awnings around and living out of bags it got all a bit to much for us. We sold it last year and wanted something bigger, with a shower room so waited 18 months for a hymer free 600 S ( Sprinter) 6 metres, and loving it. Still got the pop top roof and looking forward to camping off grid for longer. Wouldn’t look back but we aren’t young anymore either so this was the right move for us
We’ve customised it with different wheels and some wrap on the sides.

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B

BeeBee

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Yes we all look at our own specific needs, we all do the research and find the one for us that ticks ‘most of the boxes’… but oh my that 1st time you sit inside your VW California and drive off, your heart beats a little bit faster. Some things are just ‘instinctive’.
 
HowieDog

HowieDog

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For us the Hymer won’t be a daily driver but at 5.4m still Ok for use around town and for parking easily.
Bit more room inside overall and less faff setting up and leaving a location.
Easier in the morning /at night if getting up or going to bed at different times with the transverse bed at the back.
Also nice to be able to store the bedding and pillows in the pop top when it’s down.
Height is key compromise for day to day and driving experience, although new Ducato 8 is an improvement. Will probably go for air suspension at some point.
 
Blue Yonder

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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.

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Blue Yonder

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Being able to take it to remote locations that are inaccessible to motor homes and chill.
 
Y

YELRAV

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To use it as a daily driver rather than pay to have a lump sitting in storage and being used twice a year.

We did have a Bailey autograph 745 a few years back and although it’s good to have a fixed bed and toilet and roomy when on site we found it cumbersome to navigate through small roads, park and slow on the move.

The Camper just drives like a car, has plenty power and easy to park. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be tempted with a Crafter conversion maybe in a few years when I’m older, retired and have a teenager.

It’s a great day tripping vehicle too. Easy to move bikes around and then have a cuppa and bite to eat in the warmth.
 
Frankyworthy

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This is a good topic worthy of self reflection and sharing.

Yes it does depend on where you come from. We have always identified as campers, tents then our first lovely, sluggish T25 before getting the Cali a few years ago. Luxury! Heated seats and it drives like an Audi. Speaking of which, we no longer have our Audis as we have been able to dispense with them and reduce our road foot print and living in south Manchester we can use our legs or tram to get around anyway.

So having it outside the front door, it works for us as an all round compromise. We can go off happily off grid for a few days, short trips, long trips etc. In warmer countries we’re outside most of the time and set up the outdoor kitchen. We don’t need an internal shower or toilet as we can improvise, use site facilities, go to a bar.

And, as has already been said, when on a long trip, we will pull into an Air BnB for a couple of nights if the weather’s looking dodgy while we do a big laundry wash or just put our feet up in a real bed.

For full disclosure, we’re in our 60s and the format works for us now and for the foreseeable.

What we won’t compromise on, however, is the design. It must be a Cali. But that’s a different conversation.
 
RichardH

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Hi Team, this is a genuine question. I (we) have previously owned 2 panel van conversions and now a recently purchased 2020 Coast. I am curious as to why people buy the VW.

First van…… 2013 6m Globecar based on Fiat Ducato bought new and sold 3 years later with 38000 miles for £8k less

Second van……2018 5.4m HymerCar based on Fiat Ducato bought new and sold one year later with 8000 miles for £8k less

Current van …..2020 VW Coast bought 2 months ago ……. Still in use ;)

Now here’s the thing…… we used to go on long adventures for about 8 to 10 weeks at a time all over Europe. In each case the Fiat vans were completely self contained, had inbuilt shower and toilet, full size fixed double bed, truck loads of storage space and enabled us to fully and properly go off grid. No need to keep messing about with pop up roofs, making up the bed etc etc.

We chose a VW this time as we wanted something a little bit more ‘car like’ to drive and we only intend to go on trips that last 4 to 8 weeks max.

I see that many people with VW’s tend to either still be working, settle for higher utilisation of camp sites, probably only go away for short breaks.

I could go on and on but this might lead to you (reading this) either losing the will to live ;) or resenting me and every word I’ve said:eek:

So then, what made you choose a VW with all of its associated limitations compared to something a little bigger, more comfortable, more space, standing room throughout, and generally more practical and suited to the purpose of going away for a few weeks in comfort?

I am not seeking agreement or condemnation, just curious (hard hat on and ducking for cover:D)
In a "normal" year we use our Cali about 100 nights a year (hopefully we will be back to that this year). The blessings of being retired! For a month of our time away we rarely move it from its pitch on a campsite near a gorgeous beach in south-west France. For the rest of the time we tour Europe, moving on every one, two or three days. Mostly campsites, but some wild camping too and several France Passion sites. With the benefit of some practice in our first weeks we find that we can set up (van level enough, both front seats rotated, roof up, bedding on the upstairs bed, table and chairs erected outside, inside table up, door-mat in place, gas on, kettle on) in about seven minutes. Packing up and getting ready to leave takes about the same time. The excellent battery capacity means that we don't usually plug in but, when we do, it only adds a couple of minutes. It strikes us that the "living space" in a Cali is as good as most medium-sized vans, once the "upstairs bedroom" is taken into account. It certainly feels quite spacious enough for two people and it's nice to have seating space for guests. We have been to plenty of places where a larger van would not fit through the streets (e.g. small villages in France and Spain). We have also benefitted from much easier parking. With a porta-loo in the cupboard we are self-contained when necessary and, at night, the downstairs space can become a bathroom. We can live without showering every day. Different things please different people but, for us, the compact size of the Cali and its Tardis-like living space complement one another perfectly. With a Persian rug on the floor. fine porcelain coffee cups and good wine glasses, we feel that we live in luxury (and any California has greater cachet than any panel van). We love our Cali and wouldn't want anything bigger.
 
chockswahay

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I have noticed that many comparisons are made between VW vans and the ‘Great whites’. I agree the larger coach built motorhomes are by comparison unwieldy beasts that are not so versatile…….. however having owned 2 of the Fiat Ducato Panel vans I would say they are not ‘too’ much bigger to take to most places. Certainly the difference between the 6 metre van and the 5.4 metre van is noteworthy (you can just about park in most places) although the overall width is still a disadvantage compared to the VW. The Fiat Ducato does however have way more space inside and this helps to offset the slightly extra space outside.

We had the Fiats as our only vehicle at the time (smaller car 100’s of miles away in a lockup) however since we are both retired we did not have to commute so I do take the point regarding a daily driver.

Something else not really mentioned is the use of gas….. the gas cylinders in the VW are ridiculously small and expensive, the cylinders in my previous vans for example were 2 x11kg refillables which cost only one tenth of the price per refill compared to the Small Camping Gaz cylinders. If you don’t really cook in your van then not an issue I s’pose.

As for driving quality and ‘coolness’ I think the VW is untouchable. As I have said in some of my previous posts on this thread I am happy to run the Cali for a year or so and see how we get on. It might be that in the end it is just a step too far for us and we return to a slightly bigger van.

:)
 
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WelshGas

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I have noticed that many comparisons are made between VW vans and the ‘Great whites’. I agree the larger coach built motorhomes are by comparison unwieldy beasts that are not so versatile…….. however having owned 2 of the Fiat Ducato Panel vans I would say they are not ‘too’ much bigger to take to most places. Certainly the difference between the 6 metre van and the 5.4 metre van is noteworthy (you can just about park in most places) although the overall width is still a disadvantage compared to the VW. The Fiat Ducato does however have way more space inside and this helps to offset the slightly extra space outside.

We had the Fiats as our only vehicle at the time (smaller car 100’s of miles away in a lockup) however since we are both retired we did not have to commute so I do take the point regarding a daily driver.

Something else not really mentioned is the use of gas….. the gas cylinders in the VW are ridiculously small and expensive, the cylinders in my previous vans for example were 2 x11kg refillables which cost only one tenth of the price per refill compared to the Small Camping Gaz cylinders. If you don’t really cook in your van then not an issue I s’pose.

As for driving quality and ‘coolness’ I think the VW is untouchable. As I have said in some of my previous posts on this thread I am happy to run the Cali for a year or so and see how we get on. It might be that in the end it is just a step to far for us and we return to a slightly bigger van.

:)
I don't find the Campingaz that the California SE/Ocean uses a problem. 85% of the time we cook on the Cali gas rings and a 907 more than lasts for us 2. I carry a 907 + 904 and normally refill one each year. The advantages are you don't use gas for the fridge or heating.
 
GrannyJen

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I have noticed that many comparisons are made between VW vans and the ‘Great whites’. I agree the larger coach built motorhomes are by comparison unwieldy beasts that are not so versatile…….. however having owned 2 of the Fiat Ducato Panel vans I would say they are not ‘too’ much bigger to take to most places. Certainly the difference between the 6 metre van and the 5.4 metre van is noteworthy (you can just about park in most places) although the overall width is still a disadvantage compared to the VW. The Fiat Ducato does however have way more space inside and this helps to offset the slightly extra space outside.

We had the Fiats as our only vehicle at the time (smaller car 100’s of miles away in a lockup) however since we are both retired we did not have to commute so I do take the point regarding a daily driver.

Something else not really mentioned is the use of gas….. the gas cylinders in the VW are ridiculously small and expensive, the cylinders in my previous vans for example were 2 x11kg refillables which cost only one tenth of the price per refill compared to the Small Camping Gaz cylinders. If you don’t really cook in your van then not an issue I s’pose.

As for driving quality and ‘coolness’ I think the VW is untouchable. As I have said in some of my previous posts on this thread I am happy to run the Cali for a year or so and see how we get on. It might be that in the end it is just a step to far for us and we return to a slightly bigger van.

:)

A very good observation.

5.4m is quite parkable, although the extra width can at times be problematic, but saying that I've got into every space I've needed to. I'm also pleasantly surprised by how well the Ducato drives, not as good as the Cali obviously, but can be pleasantly smooth and quiet on motorway type roads and I prefer the stiffer suspension on bad surfaces. I would add though mine has the 180ps engine, not the 140 or 128 preferred by most converters.
 
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chockswahay

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I don't find the Campingaz that the California SE/Ocean uses a problem. 85% of the time we cook on the Cali gas rings and a 907 more than lasts for us 2. I carry a 907 + 904 and normally refill one each year. The advantages are you don't use gas for the fridge or heating.
But for how long? We have used our 907’s on the boat and get through a cylinder in about 18 to 21 days. Admittedly that is full time use, baking bread every other day and eating full on proper cooked food. We haven’t been away much just yet in the van but in our old ones it was around 200 to 300 days per year.
 
chockswahay

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A very good observation.

5.4m is quite parkable, although the extra width can at times be problematic, but saying that I've got into every space I've needed to. I'm also pleasantly surprised by how well the Ducato drives, not as god as the Cali obviously, but can be pleasantly smooth and quiet on motorway type roads and I prefer the stiffer suspension on bad surfaces. I would add though mine has the 180ps engine, not the 140 or 128 preferred by most converters.
As a latecomer to this forum @GrannyJen I am not up to speed on which van you have, may I ask? I like the idea of the 180 engine, ours were both the 130 which at times was not quite enough. The first van averaged just under 39 mpg throughout its time, ranging from 29 worst case to an amazing 49 mpg on the drive from Gijon to Castro Marim in Portugal in one go with a night stop in Zafra. The 2nd van never managed more than 32 mpg overall, it was a newer 2018 model so wonder if this was due to emissions control etc. I like the Fiats and if changing I would deffo have auto next time.
 
GrannyJen

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As a latecomer to this forum @GrannyJen I am not up to speed on which van you have, may I ask? I like the idea of the 180 engine, ours were both the 130 which at times was not quite enough. The first van averaged just under 39 mpg throughout its time, ranging from 29 worst case to an amazing 49 mpg on the drive from Gijon to Castro Marim in Portugal in one go with a night stop in Zafra. The 2nd van never managed more than 32 mpg overall, it was a newer 2018 model so wonder if this was due to emissions control etc. I like the Fiats and if changing I would deffo have auto next time.

Since July I have been running around in an Ayers Rock with a half share in a California due to be delivered at sometime in the future. I went over to the "dark side" with some trepidation but currently having a ball.

I sold my Cali in strange but lucrative circumstances. I had just come back from a 50 day trip, about to set off to pick up the AR, was "testing the market" and ended up with an offer I could not refuse. I ended up in a dealers with no vehicle, stood at a train station, and calling up a sister dealer in Worthing who sold me a Demo Skoda Fabia for the "spare change" that I had in my pocket. So I got the best of both worlds, a much more spacious vehicle with a gorgeously comfortable fixed bed and a little car to run around in.

@WelshGas makes a very valid observation. It is how you use it and what you use it for. I slept downstairs in the Cali, long story why, but downstairs it was which meant the allure of a fixed and highly comfortable end bed was the pull that attracted me.

Edit:

I also have the FIAT 9 speed auto box which is superb. On a long journey I expect to get over 30mpg.
 
GrannyJen

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But for how long? We have used our 907’s on the boat and get through a cylinder in about 18 to 21 days. Admittedly that is full time use, baking bread every other day and eating full on proper cooked food. We haven’t been away much just yet in the van but in our old ones it was around 200 to 300 days per year.

My Gas in the Cali used to last me around 50 days away. I suspect the single 11kg bottle I carry in my AR will last until the vehicle is ready to go to the breakers yard, especially as I am spending now more time on-grid and use my Remoska for cooking and electrical kettle for making millions of cups of tea,

Plus, I should add, not having to boil a kettle for hot water.
 
chockswahay

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Since July I have been running around in an Ayers Rock with a half share in a California due to be delivered at sometime in the future. I went over to the "dark side" with some trepidation but currently having a ball.

I sold my Cali in strange but lucrative circumstances. I had just come back from a 50 day trip, about to set off to pick up the AR, was "testing the market" and ended up with an offer I could not refuse. I ended up in a dealers with no vehicle, stood at a train station, and calling up a sister dealer in Worthing who sold me a Demo Skoda Fabia for the "spare change" that I had in my pocket. So I got the best of both worlds, a much more spacious vehicle with a gorgeously comfortable fixed bed and a little car to run around in.

@WelshGas makes a very valid observation. It is how you use it and what you use it for. I slept downstairs in the Cali, long story why, but downstairs it was which meant the allure of a fixed and highly comfortable end bed was the pull that attracted me.

Edit:

I also have the FIAT 9 speed auto box which is superb. On a long journey I expect to get over 30mpg.
Nice :thumb we had the Ayers Rock too. It was a lovely van but I was never convinced by the pop top, we didn’t use it (pop top)much and that may have been the issue. The pop top was quite prone to mould growth on the fabric and roof lining, I suspect this may have been due to the lack of ventilation and that we spent many months full time in the van. Also the shower/bathroom was not ideal as no vent in the roof and for me at 6’2 a bit of a squeeze to stand up or sit down haha. Other than that a great van and only sold to buy the boat in 2019.

Here it was in Mesnay, France, Nov 2018

7BAA586D-034B-446F-AA6B-DC9705FC0207.jpeg
 
WelshGas

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But for how long? We have used our 907’s on the boat and get through a cylinder in about 18 to 21 days. Admittedly that is full time use, baking bread every other day and eating full on proper cooked food. We haven’t been away much just yet in the van but in our old ones it was around 200 to 300 days per year.
I don't bake bread nor full English breakfast. We're camping and travelling. Normally drinks, cooked evening meals , soups, cereals for breakfast, occasional barbecue.
We're on holiday so the easier the better.
If we want a gourmet experience then we find a restaurant that the locals frequent.
 
GrannyJen

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Nice :thumb we had the Ayers Rock too. It was a lovely van but I was never convinced by the pop top, we didn’t use it (pop top)much and that may have been the issue. The pop top was quite prone to mould growth on the fabric and roof lining, I suspect this may have been due to the lack of ventilation and that we spent many months full time in the van. Also the shower/bathroom was not ideal as no vent in the roof and for me at 6’2 a bit of a squeeze to stand up or sit down haha. Other than that a great van and only sold to buy the boat in 2019.

Here it was in Mesnay, France, Nov 2018

View attachment 91580

How lovely :)

I have neither of your downsides. I do not have a pop top and have a bathroom vent instead.!
 
Roger Boeken

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All things mentioned here and after 6 years I can sell it for 50 % of original price.
 
Ksar-el-kebir

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Hi Team, this is a genuine question. I (we) have previously owned 2 panel van conversions and now a recently purchased 2020 Coast. I am curious as to why people buy the VW.

First van…… 2013 6m Globecar based on Fiat Ducato bought new and sold 3 years later with 38000 miles for £8k less

Second van……2018 5.4m HymerCar based on Fiat Ducato bought new and sold one year later with 8000 miles for £8k less

Current van …..2020 VW Coast bought 2 months ago ……. Still in use ;)

Now here’s the thing…… we used to go on long adventures for about 8 to 10 weeks at a time all over Europe. In each case the Fiat vans were completely self contained, had inbuilt shower and toilet, full size fixed double bed, truck loads of storage space and enabled us to fully and properly go off grid. No need to keep messing about with pop up roofs, making up the bed etc etc.

We chose a VW this time as we wanted something a little bit more ‘car like’ to drive and we only intend to go on trips that last 4 to 8 weeks max.

I see that many people with VW’s tend to either still be working, settle for higher utilisation of camp sites, probably only go away for short breaks.

I could go on and on but this might lead to you (reading this) either losing the will to live ;) or resenting me and every word I’ve said:eek:

So then, what made you choose a VW with all of its associated limitations compared to something a little bigger, more comfortable, more space, standing room throughout, and generally more practical and suited to the purpose of going away for a few weeks in comfort?

I am not seeking agreement or condemnation, just curious (hard hat on and ducking for cover:D)
Size. The California can fit most places a car does. I live in a flat with a parking space. Cheap on ferries. Lived in it in Morocco during the lockdown (had no choice!). Usually alone so space is not an issue.

4F6765C4-FFE3-4610-90B7-BAF9DC46772E.jpeg
 
4x4 joker

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But for how long? We have used our 907’s on the boat and get through a cylinder in about 18 to 21 days. Admittedly that is full time use, baking bread every other day and eating full on proper cooked food. We haven’t been away much just yet in the van but in our old ones it was around 200 to 300 days per year.
Wow really.
Mine lasts 40/50 days cooking daily and having 4/5 cuppas, do you not turn it down or maybe it’s 20cuppas a day;)
 
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