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  1. Default Conversion Van the Best Vehicle? (4 Adults, 4000miles, 20days)

    My friends and I (4 of us total) are going on a 20 day, 4000mile road trip this summer through the US leaving from NY. We are almost convinced that a “High-Top” conversion van is the best vehicle to do the job.

    Renting one would cost over $3000 so I prefer to buy one and sell it afterwards (unless someone can suggest a more cost effective rental option).

    There are various models from Chevy, Ford, and Dodge. Most are built on Truck chassis and engine/transmission packages so any truck knowledge probably applies here.
    Any makes/models I should stay away from?

    The one I am looking at now is a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 for $3000. Body has around 200k with 60k on a rebuilt engine and transmission. Anyone have experience with this model?

    Any input would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default probably not

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Generally speaking, it rarely make sense to purchase a vehicle just for a roadtrip, especially one that only lasts a couple of weeks. When you factor in all of the costs associated with purchasing a car, you generally need to be on the road for at least 2-3 months to make a dedicated purchase worthwhile.

    That's especially true when you're talking about a specialty vehicle like a conversion van, where you're going to have high ownership costs, higher repair costs, and you're likely going to lose even more in the difference between a purchase and resale.

    I'd also at least question if such a vehicle really would be the right choice. A van really is not going to provide enough room to sleep 4 people, so I'd think you've be better off either going with a full RV, or just go regular car and motels.

  3. #3

    Default Not for me, because... father had one for several years, and it was not a suitable vehicle in the long run.

    Hello WestBound,

    I think his was a late 80s Chevy 20 series chassis (known to truck owners as a 3/4 ton). Dad bought it with retiring and traveling in mind, and by the time he was ready to travel a lot, his enthusiasm for the vehicle had waned and he did his RoadTripping in a '94 Lincoln Town Car, the very vehicle I inherited from him and serves as my daily driver today.

    Anyway, the primary downside of the conversion van is lack of good visibility from the middle and rear seating areas. The "Captains Chairs" are generally comfortable, but you sit up so high it's difficult to see anything but the highway out the windshield, and you'll see but little out of the window on your side. You'll see practically nothing out the window opposite you. Those riding in the way-back have it worse, where they're strictly tunnel vision. We had a number of instances of car-sickness among individuals who never got carsick in other vehicles.

    Aside from that, the ride was terrible, and that's exacerbated by sitting up high. A conversion van is heavy due to the interior trim/stuff mounted inside, and I was always worried about overtaxing the transmission, blowing hoses, etc, since our normal M.O. was to load it up to the gills with people and gear, on top of the already heavily-laden empty status.

    I don't read anything about your planning to sleep in the vehicle, and that's good. If that's a correct read, I'd suggest a minivan over a conversion van. The seating is lower, the windows larger, especially the broad, tall swept-back windshield. I find the visibility from inside a minivan to be much superior to that from a conversion van. They're generally easier to drive, too, as well as easier to park.


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