It has recently been brought to my attention, by a friend, that I am an avid lover of research. I was quick off the mark to be mildly offended, due to the insinuation that, despite my research ability being strong, my ability to decide and commit was pathetic. But, after a moment of “excuse me?”, followed by a moment of self assessment, I realised that this was, in fact, true. I needed to make a decision and commit to it.
So that’s why I now own a van. After a little bit of research, and staring at endless instagram posts, I found a nice little Vauxhall Vivaro, I went to see it, and I bought it.
Well if you’re anything like me, you may have only just heard the name “Vauxhall Vivaro”, and me telling you that it’s a short wheel base (SWB), 2015 plate and under 100k miles will not mean much to you. Prior to my new van life, I had no experience of buying a vehicle, and I had never even heard of a “panel van”, and so getting to the point of purchase for me was not that simple. As previously mentioned, this blog is more of a journal of me muddling through rather than a “how to”, and so I’m going to share how I got to this point.
My first decision was whether I was going to buy a pre-converted van or do it myself from scratch. But I’d had my heart set on a mini project for a while and so that was a pretty quick decision made. Ok, so what brand? VW is the dream, let’s be honest, but pretty damn expensive. I wasn’t about to find a 6 year old VW with low mileage for anything under £10,000. I could add it to the search but my more realistic opportunities were Ford and Vauxhall. Well known for producing a large amount of reliable commercial vehicles and widely available. Ok, search categories had begun.
Now, I’m a small 5’4” human that wasn’t planning to do much standing in my vehicle. I knew that I wanted a van that would blend in and not cost a sweet ass fortune in insurance and Euro Tunnel charges, and I was also planning to use it as my daily vehicle, and so it need to fit comfortably into a car park space at Sainsbury’s. I learned quickly that panel vans come in short, medium and long wheel bases and that a tall one would fall above the 3 tonne mark. Again, Euro Tunnel and Channel ferry issues. So, I was looking for a standard height, SWB panel van and my budget was about £8,000. Gumtree and Autotrader became my new best friends.
After a week or so of searching locally, I found a Vivaro that fit my specifications. So I booked a Covid safe appointment to go and see it. I asked parents for advice on what to ask for and check when viewing a vehicle, and off I went to the dealership with my Mum in tow. I’d never in my life heard of service history (I know, I know) but, after a salesman’s excuse speech, I learned that this van did not have one. Big nope. Even though the engine turned on fine, the electrics seemed to function normally and there was little to no apparent damage, I had been informed that a dodgy service history is just not the one.
So the hunt continued.
I’m not usually the type of person to give up when I really want something, but it was coming up to Christmas, lockdown was looming and I was starting to hesitate and think a car would be easier. But who wants easy right? I also had learned two things from my first van visit which had provided some added motiivation: I had been approved for finance for that particular van and, as cliche as it sounds, I needed to trust my instincts. When it’s right, it’s right.
After this, I went back to the Autotrader drawing board. I reckon I looked at about 15 different vans and rang at least 8 different dealerships over the Christmas week. It wasn’t until New Years Eve that I found it. A van that fit all my specifications, with a full service history, and within my budget. Bingo. I made a quick call and my was appointment booked in four days time (closed for the holidays). I was pretty desperate to see it, I bugged the salesman twice more to confirm the viewing, and I knew if it felt right seeing it, I’d buy it.
And that’s just what happened. I took a quick trip up the M23, met the salesman, climbed in the cab and made my mind up. This wagon was mine. The wave of excitement carried me right through the scary grown-up bit and I wasn’t even that phased as my rather large deposit went through. I knew it was an investment. My finance went through, details were exchanged, pick up day was in three days and that was that. No stress tears were shed and I now owned a van.
Oh, and it had a roof rack. Win.