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So, you’re thinking about restoring a vintage campervan? You want to put your own mark on a slice of authentic van-life, and want something eye-catching to holiday in? Then look no further than our eight top tips for restoring your camper.

Restoration is a fun and cost-effective way to fulfil your camper dreams but can be habit-forming!

We know this, that’s why insurance for a campervan from Motorhome Protect covers you for restorations and conversions. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.


Tip 1: Be prepared for the challenge

Campervan restoration is not something to be rushed into. There’s plenty you need to think about before launching on your restoration project.

  • Location - Do you have enough space for a restoration job? Is it a suitable place to work on your van? Is it secure? Are there nearby neighbours who’ll be disturbed? Does it have electricity and light?
  • Tools – Are your tools up to the job? If not, then this could seriously affect the cost of the restoration, the time it takes and how enjoyable it will be. A decent van restoration requires a whole variety of tools. If you’re part of a local campervan club then it could be worth asking around to see if you might be able to share tools with another enthusiast.
  • Knowledge – Unless you’re very experienced there’ll be some jobs you simply don’t have the expertise for. Do you have any mechanics in your family or circle of friends? Or at least someone who’s handy with bodywork or engines?
  • Time – Restoration projects can eat up many hours of your time. If you’re working full time and have other commitments in the evening or weekends then will you have enough time and energy for the task?
  • Money – Don’t let your project become a money pit. Work out a realistic budget beforehand and try to stick to it. Time spent on researching costs is time well spent!

A rusty campervan in need of restoration

Tip 2: Choose the right van

When looking to buy a campervan to restore it’s all too easy to let your heart rule your head.

Note down what it is you’re looking for. That way you’ll have a better idea whether a van is suitable or not. This can change over time but some worthwhile considerations include:

  • Manual or automatic – which do you prefer?
  • Mileage – A van with more mileage can be cheaper, but it could need more work.
  • Van size – If you’re an experienced van driver then you could probably look at something bigger than if you’ve only ever driven a Mini! Also, a bigger van could mean a larger project. And if you’re hoping to drive on small country roads then consider whether your van will fit.
  • Roof style – Standard low roof, pop-up, or fixed high-top? All of which have their own pros and cons. For example, you won’t be able to stand up in a standard low roof but they are useful for parking in garages.

There are many other issues worth considering but it doesn’t pay to be too set in what you’re looking for.

After all, if something else crops up in a better condition at a bargain price you'd be unwise to ignore it!


Tip 3: Rust never sleeps

Spotting a bit of rust on the paintwork is probably to be expected when looking for a restoration job. However, it’s often the most expensive, time-consuming and difficult thing to tackle on any restoration.

Indeed, if you’ve got your heart set on a really old vehicle you might also have to deal with rot as well!

Blue paint peeling revealing a rusty panel beneath it

Tip 4: Attack the damp and protect your interior

Almost by their very nature campervans can be susceptible to water leakage and therefore mould.

Particularly where the van has previously been modified and around any seals. Be careful and diligent in locating and fixing any leaks if you don’t want that mouldy smell returning and ruining all your good work.

Even if there’s no mould visible then it’s worth applying a mould removing agent to the interior to make sure.


Tip 5: Call in the pros

Some things need an expert’s hand and when it comes to mechanical repairs or work on the electrics and gas you really need to know what you’re doing before tinkering.

It needs to be safe and suitable for habitation so never cut corners on such non-negotiables.

A professional wearing full protective gear using a spray tool to apply protective coating to the bottom of a vehicle

Tip 6: Don’t skimp on the kitchen

Rustling up some hearty fare after a day out exploring is one of the joys of campervan life. And if the rain sets in for the day then having a cosy place to whip up some tea and cake does wonders for your sanity.

With that in mind, it’s worth investing a fair amount of time, energy and money in refurbishing the van kitchen.

Getting some decent appliances and making the best use of available storage space will mean the kitchen soon becomes a joy to use, rather than a chore.


Tip 7: Get yourself insured

Just because your conversion or restoration project is off the road doesn’t mean you don’t need campervan insurance in case of damage or accident.

Call Motorhome Protect to make sure you’re covered during the work.

A restored classic blue campervan driving along a sandy beach

Tip 8: Be prepared for setbacks

For the first few weeks after completing a restoration you’ll probably be jumping at every strange noise and rattle.

To steady your nerves, it’s wise to carry a decent selection of spares and a basic toolkit.

Duct tape and cable ties are essential things to carry, while a selection of nuts, bolts and screws may also be useful.

If you have a mechanical friend, ask them to drive it, too, to see if they can spot any issues before you take it on a long run.

It's definitely worth investing in breakdown cover to complement your campervan insurance, just in case.


Protect your precious project with the best insurance

When you’ve put so much time and effort into a restoration, it’s important to get the best protection.

Using our panel of leading insurers our specialist team will find you the bespoke cover to suit your needs.

Benefits of campervan insurance policies arranged through us can include:

  • Enhanced cover for personal effects
  • Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000

Call Motorhome Protect to get a campervan insurance quote today.

Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.