Every van eventually turns into a camper – a saying that also applied to the T1, T2 and T3. The T4 continues the tradition, as Philipp and Jannis’ bus shows: The two North Germans worked together to get their bargain bus back on the road, adding numerous features for travels all over Europe. Below, Jannis explains how it all started.
Van life in a do-it-yourself camper.
Volkswagen T4 Transporter | 1998
Philipp, 21 years and Jannis, 23 years
"First, a bit about us...
Philipp and I have known each other more than ten years. Around three years ago, out of boredom really, we decided to look at a few old vehicles on eBay. The idea was to buy one for not much money and do it up. Philipp is a trained car mechanic, so he knows what he’s doing. As more and more of what we were looking at became campers and camping renovation, we started to want something tangible – a solid base. Philipp’s dad already owns a T3, my grandparents had an LT28 twenty years ago, and Philipp learned his trade in a Volkswagen garage, so the T4 was an obvious choice. Probably also because it was the cheapest of all the buses at that time. After looking for two or three months, we found a T4 Transporter from 1998, with a new MOT, a 1.9 litre turbo-diesel engine and just 145,000 kilometres on the clock – all for just EUR 1,800. By today’s standards (and in fact three years ago) it was a great deal!
Once we had bought it, we set about turning the bus into a DIY camper. We are now on the third stage of development, as we have repeatedly discarded older structures and optimized them further. Over time, more and more technical gadgets have been added: a homemade roof rack, a rear ladder, a cool box, battery monitors, auxiliary heating...the list goes on. We have also repainted the bus every year, meaning that we have had to literally take every component in hand at least once – even the engine. That is another reason why we would never sell “Seb”. Alongside its emotional value, the car holds countless hours of work that could never be accounted for in monetary terms. Also, the car has never let us down when it mattered. If it ever has failed to start, it has been for reasons we know about. It always serves us well on our travels, taking us more than 60,000 kilometres already, both to the north and the south.
So it is impossible to name just one best experience with the T4. Instead, it is all about the whole picture of the bus, travel, van life, fine-tuning, building. We have recorded as many of the countless wonderful moments on our travels on our Instagram profile “sebvanlife”. By the way, I am a trained media designer. I do this part and Philipp keeps the van on the road.
This year, we had originally planned to go on a year-long tour of Europe, starting in May. Unfortunately, Covid-19 put paid to that. Our plan for the year was to travel around 30,000 kilometres with the bus through Europe, from Germany to the North Cape, then down to Greece, along the Mediterranean and back to Germany. But the trip is not cancelled, just delayed – we now plan to set off in April 2021.”