Our Purchase was lengthy and time consuming
We purchased a 2019 Passenger Van for use as a conversion project.
A few years ago we converted a cargo trailer with all the functionality of a live in RV. So we are not new to this type of project. But new to Sprinter Vans.
Our intention is to complete a partial conversion of this van, in several phases. We will probably start camping and traveling with it, “as is”, first.
Our basic wants in the base vehicle were as follows.
2019 Passenger High Top 144
3.0L 6 Cylinder Diesel
Rear High Performance Air Conditioning
Back up camera
We initially wanted a used van with under 50K Miles in the $30K range. For nearly a year I looked at many. Most were floating somewhere closer to $35K. If it met my scrutiny. But we did want some specific things.
There was lots of junk and sketchy rigs out there even in that price range. We thought long and hard about diving into a rig with no warranty. Then perhaps sinking thousands if not tens of thousands into a conversion. To never be able to sell it if need be.
Some people can’t get financing on the basics, let alone a conversion. Keep that in mind if your intentions are to later sell your rig on your own. You are going to narrow down a buyer market to a very small slice of the population.
So we started looking at new rigs with things we had to have.
Especially the High performance rear air and a light color (Silver or White), preferably silver.
We live in Las Vegas in the desert heat. I have heard way too many complaints that people can’t keep the rear cool regardless of how well insulated they may be. Especially when driving down the road using only dash air. We hit 100°F the day we test drove our 2019. We can only recommend you think hard before forfeiting rear air.
Though the high performance rear air does eat up nearly all your roof real estate. On a 144, the Rear Air mechanics and plastic cover cowling leaves little area left. 42 inches or less depending on how much you are willing to crowd the Air Conditioner unit.
You might be able to squeeze a 110VAC auxiliary roof Air Conditioner in there? But it might get complicated reinforcing it and dealing with refrigerant lines and any wire runs? I have no intentions of removing the interior factory headliner to take a peek.
With factory roof air, adding a crank up roof vent/fan seems totally possible. Up near the front cab area just before the roof starts sloping down to the windshield.
With the High Performance Roof Air ( on a 144) Solar panels on the roof will be very limited too. Especially if you manage to fit a 110VAC roof air unit up on top. An add on accessory roof rack might provide more options?
So looking at new, not used we were in the $55K market. Way too much for our wallet.
After much looking and tire kicking. We found a really attractive deal on a Mercedes Dealer’s Courtesy Vehicle that was offered for sale with 3900 miles. It had the remaining factory warranty intact. Never titled and considered new as far a financing was concerned.
We like the finished interior An upgraded seat package, and interior finish, was just gravy on top. The rest of the van really had no added on expensive frills other than than the wants listed above.
Our budget was originally $30K-$35K for something used. We were hoping not to finance anything.
We ended up with this one for just under $40,000.00. To put this in perspective the MSRP on this vehicle was right around $55,000.00. We thought it to be a fortunate find.
Of course then you have to factor in the tax and some minor fee’s.
Considering new condition verses used. Warranty verses none. We were more than pleased. We are so glad we didn’t go with something a couple years old, and in the 50K mile range, like we were considering for a long while.
We had seriously considered some attractive used vehicles. Each was missing at least one of the “must haves”.
While at the same time we wasted time looking at some high priced used junk. Abused in some cases. On one prospective vehicle we actually drove 10 hours round trip. To a legit Mercedes dealership on the “word” of a salesman. I won’t even go into the whole story. He was blind if he didn’t see what I immediately saw. The closer we looked the worse it got. I got a sick feeling having driven a trip that was to be 570 miles round trip.
I don’t know if it was a “bait & switch” scenario that I never even let get to the “switch” portion? But the condition of the vehicle was grossly misrepresented. We basically walked away from the salesman.
I was do disgusted I was “baited” into driving that far for something that looked so abused cosmetically both inside and out. I had to assume the mechanical maintenance had suffered the same care. No way would I purchase that one with no warranty. (56K miles – $31,000.00)
So….just a word to the wise. For those in the market looking for their base vehicle. Be very carefully. Pay a trusted mechanic to check over any used vehicle with no warranty. This is critical if you are not mechanically inclined to recognize potential problems, or not adept at purchasing used vehicles.
We hope to build our conversion in some type of modular fashion. Solar and a couple of auxiliary batteries. Also a 110VAC to 12VDC Converter-Charger. A layout that will allow us to install a bathroom, bed, and small sink/fridge unit. While at the same time not visually alter the van’s exterior appearance too much, or alter it with numerous holes in the body.
We hope to start soon and show some photos. In the mean time. For those out there doing their own Sprinter builds, we encourage you to send us your photos, trick idea’s, sources for parts and accessories, etc. We will make your info appear within out site as appropriate. Thank You!