Travelling Europe in a campervan was a long-held dream for Tom Lane and Caitlin Green but with motorhomes costing a small fortune, they decided to DIY. The couple, both 30, bought a 2009 Transit that had started life as a DHL delivery van before being sold to builders who had used it for two years. With 186,000 miles on the clock, it had taken a battering and had certainly seen better days but at £2,100, the price was right.
Caitlin and design engineer Tom and his Caitlin began the conversion project in July 2019 with the help of YouTube videos and their own bright ideas, they created a marvellous motorhome spending another £2,100 doing it. The van took round them to Croatia, Greece, Italy and France, where they enjoyed climbing mountains and rocky outcrops and swimming in lakes and rivers, while spending as little money as possible.
"We didn’t stay at a single campsite and we budgeted 10 euros a day for food, though we allowed ourselves one meal out per country as a treat,” says Caitlin. Their year-long trip was cut three months short by the pandemic, but it was far from a wasted journey. Along with great memories, they came back home to Yorkshire with a fantastic idea.
Having tested and worked out how to refine some of the built-in furniture they had designed and made, they decided to start their own business, Contour Campers, designing and making bespoke fitted furniture for campervans. www.contourcampers.co.uk
1. Before the conversion
The £2,100 former DHL delivery van had been used by builders for two years before Caitlin and Tom bought it
2. DIY and hard work paid off
Caitlin working on installing a sun roof whuch is vital for natural light
3. Small but perfectly formed
This smaller camper van features the couple's bespoke furniture. Having tested and worked out how to refine some of the built-in furniture they had designed and made for their conversion, they decided to start their own business.
The couple are now based in Horton in Ribblesdale, where they run Contour Campers, designing, making and fitting bespoke campervan furniture. Prices start from £3,000 to £4,000.
They also rent out two camper vans, including their original one that is out on hire until January next year.
The furniture is designed and made bespoke for each individual van. It can be flat-packed and delivered to clients to fit themselves or customers can leave their campervan with Tom and Caitlin for a week and they will fit it for them.
4. Putting in the hours
Tom and Caitlin spent four months working on their project in the evenings and on weekends, a task made more difficult because they were living in Manchester at the time.
“We’d have to do the work with the van on the side of the road and if it was raining we had to rig up a tarpaulin over it,” says Caitlin, who was born and raised in rural California.
After giving up work to finish the project off and prepare for their European tour, the couple moved to Yorkshire to live with Tom’s parents.
Here, they spent two months solid working on the vehicle with the help of Tom’s father.