Vinny the Vito

Vinny the Vito's Project
Status: Just getting started

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Vinny the Vito is our 2003 old shape Mercedes Vito van. We have owned him for about 4 years and to be honest over the years he has been somewhat used and abused. He is a 6 seater people a family of 6 .. a necessity, but has also had to endure wet smelly dogs, bikes, kayaks, windsurf gear, tip runs as well as being used as an impromptu bed for said dogs when camping and the husband when he has attended windsurf events.

Why the blog?? Its been decided that Vinny needs a new lease of life as a reborn campervan but despite extensive searching on the web I have been unable to find much in the way of blogs or other peoples stories. VW's yes.. but Vitos may as well be another world away.

Despite that I know there are plenty of people out there doing the same, lots of questions and ideas being bandied around. Having chatted to garages and companies doing conversions there is a very real respect for Vitos, engines that are bomb proof, ideal as daily drivers, slightly wider believe it or not than a VW and more to the point several thousand pounds cheaper. Yes they have a bad reputation for rust but my understanding is that the slightly later model 2004 ish onwards are much better!

Vinny did have a rust problem admittedly and also bore the scars of our then 5 year old deciding to decorate his passenger door using a stone however a couple of years later a chance meeting of Vinny, an icy country road and a sharp bend combined with 2 other vehicles resulted in a number of weeks in a body shop and a virtual complete new nearside !! Nightmare at the time but a blessing in disguise really. Infact the only casualty was 1 dog with a cut mouth. The husband had been telling me for years that I needed to have an accident to resolve the rust problem!! Thankfully the major damage was caused by someone else going into Vinny so I felt justified in not having to take too much responsibility!

August 2012, Vinny is looking pretty good for his age and we have campervan envy of all those friends with VWs, pretty much had to rule out a VW due to lack of cash flow so next best option is to convert Vinny. A decision I dont think we will regret, yes he might be getting on a bit but he's looking good and he only has 70k ish miles on the clock.

We initially started looking at putting it in for a full off the peg conversion but at nearly £10k including an elevating roof that clearly wasnt an option. £3750 for the roof alone including fitting nearly had me falling off my seat. And it wasnt even a Reimo! The next few weeks were spent trawling the web for roof options, a lot of lurking on the VW forums, ebay and google are our new best friends. Some roofs look too small, bearing in mind it will be used as a bed for our 2 youngest, some just appeared cheap and others still had a huge price tag. We eventually took the plunge and spoke to Poptoproofs.. the roof size was good, the VW forums had generally good feedback and the price was more sensible. After a phone call to Bill my husband announced it was sorted and the roof was almost certainly being delivered the following week and at a fantastic price, bearing in mind we are in the South of the country and the roof was up north this was almost too good to be true!.

A few anxious days followed and then like magic the roof duly arrived with a very tired but amazingly polite and helpful driver at 8pm at night! Our 6 and 8 year olds were by this point juming up and down with excitement and predictably refusing to go to bed while it was in the process of being unloaded. One small teething problem in that the mattress hadnt been remembered for the elevating bed but the driver was quick to deduct part of the cost a a promise that the mattress would be got to us somehow. Today 6 days later the mattress has arrived .. so far so good. Said roof is currently lounging in our dining roof and taking up an awful lot of space whilst awaiting fitting.. which is another story!

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Project Task Write-ups:

  • Roof

    Having a roof rack is a must for us.. kayaks, windsurf gear, not much use having a camper without it. Having spent hours surfing the net there really isnt a simple answer ..unless we want to spend ...

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