The dream of traveling around in a converted van, coming and going as we please and experiencing new places and cultures is something we’ve always aspired to.
Our first van was a 1998 VW Transporter T4 which we called Big Blue. It was an ex plumber van, full of holes and imperfections. It was Big Blue which really got us hooked on vans and all the adventures owning one would lead to.
Our second van was a 2012 VW Transporter T5 called the Silver Dream. We had lots of fun adventures and weekend trips in the Silver Dream, with a mix of existing, and self-built furniture. In 2018 we had the Silver Dream professionally converted into a full campervan including a pop up roof and rock and roll style bed. This made longer trips far more comfortable (especially with 2 dogs). However over time we just felt like the Transporter was not big enough for our requirements, and we were making compromises on what we could and couldn’t take with us on trips.
In early 2020 we decided to bite the bullet and go for a dramatic upsize. After hundreds of hours online, on Instagram, on YouTube and speaking with other van owners we eventually concluded that the L4 (XLWB) Boxer/Ducato/Relay was going to be the best fit for us (I believe this is the Ram Promaster Extended for US markets) Coming from a VW background we spent a lot of time first looking at the newer shape VW Crafter. Despite the cab and interior of the Crafter feeling superior to the others we decided that the extra width, shorter overall length and super high roof option of the Peugeot Boxer was going to be the best option for us.
We then spent the next few weeks tirelessly searching AutoTrader/Ebay and any UK garage we could find for a L4 H3 van with a reasonable spec and in good condition. Simply put, we just couldn’t find one. The L4 H2 and L3 H2 were far easier to come by. Considering the amount of investment, and the amount of time we plan to keep this van we eventually determined that the best option was to order a brand new van and get exactly what we wanted, without compromise. By chance, some friends of the garage we purchased the Boxer from were in the market for a T5. One email later, and a trip that evening from some prospective buyers the Silver Dream was sold and we placed an order for the below.
The base van:
- Peugeot Boxer L4 H3 (XLWB)
- 435 BlueHDi
- 140 S&S
- 6-speed manual
- Professional EU6.1
- Cabin overhead storage
- City pack: reversing camera and electric folding mirrors
- Blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert
- Front LED running lights with side markers
- Automatic lights and wipers
- Removal of full steel bulkhead
- Heated driver seat with lumbar adjustment and armrest
- Single heated passenger seat
So, why the Peugeot Boxer?
We ended up on the Peugeot Boxer for a number of reasons. Primarily this came down to overall cost and the dimensions.
Whilst looking in the second hand market for VW Crafters we realised we would be spending the same amount, or often more on a 3 year old van vs a brand new van with our own chosen specifications and warranty from Peugeot. Secondly Peugeot offers the Boxer in a H3 variant which provides a whopping 2.12m (85.5 inches) of internal height in the back. Both being tall and not wanting to feel totally boxed in, the height was really important to us.
The concept of being able to stretch out a bit, or put your arms above your head in the shower are things we didn’t want to compromise on with the H2.
The additional height also allows us to build a large garage and still sit up the bed. We will also gain from the additional storage height above the cab.
The Boxer is also the widest, and most consistent width from top to bottom when compared to other vans like the Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter. The Boxer comes in at around 187cm wide (73.6 inches) vs 178cm (70 inches) in the Crafter. When looking at layouts we decided the additional space gained in width would allow us to have a traverse bed as opposed to lengthways (which would have required a longer overall van)
In terms of length and wheelbase the L4 Boxer has a total exterior length of 636cm (250.5 inches) and runs on the same wheelbase as the shorter L3 version. Having the shorter wheels base 4035mm (158.9 inches) should make the van more maneuverable and aid in parking when compared to the longer Sprinter and Crafters.
In memory of our previous van dog Mitchell, we are naming this conversion Biggiesmall after his big personality in a tiny package - much like tiny living in a big van (in comparison to our old ones)
To conclude, once we had drafted out our ideal build layout and mocked it up inside the dimensions of the Crafter, Sprinter, Boxer and aligned our desired specs with the points above we made up our decision. Let’s hope it was the right choice for us!