We’ve done it. After so many years talking about buying a van and turning it into a camper, or just buying a camper van we’ve finally come to our senses and decided to buy an iconic old 4x4, and turn it into a camper… — wait, what?
I’ve always been the guy watching the fuel consumption of the car I was driving and we’ve happily lived 7 years without owning one, so how did this happen?
Well it all started when we went to Iceland in March, and spent a magical week onboard a 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero (diesel) converted into a camper. The car handled beautifully on all terrains, snow, ice, road, gravel… and the webasto stationary heater kept us warm inside while it was below -7C outside. And that got us thinking. Volkswagen Transporters & Californias are really expensive, even old ones, and if you want a 4 Motion transmission that will handle better on rough roads, this is even harder to find and obviously more expensive.
So I started looking at used Shoguns (the name of the Pajero in the UK) and it turns out you can find really good deals, but no left hand drive; so we kept looking. We’re both big fans of the Land Rover Defender, and we even checked out a few that were in our budget but they’re all quite old, usually with a really high mileage, or a chassis crippled with rust; so we kept looking.
And then we found this one.
A Land Rover Discovery 2 from 2000. It’s a petrol 4.0L V8 only 62000 KMs, manual gearbox, left hand drive… and in pristine condition.
We drove a city car to Chester to see it, and went back a week later by train to buy it. The following weekend, we took it for a ride in the highlands, to Oban and around, with a very rustic bed at he back, made of our sofa cushions.
A few weeks later we drove it down to France, Le Mans, then Toulouse, Biscarrosse and finally back to Le Mans to prep it.
We took out the remaining back seats and laid a protection inside the car, this will facilitate cleanups.
Next, we built an aluminum frame & structure, light & strong, that’s attached to the built-in 4 hooks in the boot.
Then we cut the plywood for the bed, 1 fixed part behind the seats and two modular parts at the front so we can reach stuff underneath. We’ve varnished the plywood to make it last longer, and it looks nice!
Finally we bought a layer of a material made of coconut fibre to keep air between the wood and the mattress and keep it dry; and a mattress, that we cut to size, keeping the housing intact, so can can clean it and reuse it when the foam of that one will be too old.
Last but not least, we cut blinds for the many windows of the Disco. They are re-inforced with a flexible plastic frame, so we don’t need any suction pad to cling to the windows.
That’s it, throw in a few containers, a solar panel that slides under the bed, 2x400W batteries, a fridge, tables etc. and it feels like home.