Volkswagen Caddy Van Conversion
Product Reviews Van Conversion Van Life

Can you use a Volkswagen caddy as a campervan?

October 13, 2023

Ever looked at a Volkswagen Caddy and thought, “I could live in that”? You’re not alone! More and more people are turning these versatile vehicles into cosy, fully-equipped campervans. But where do you start? How much will it cost? And is it really possible to fit a comfortable bed, a kitchen, and all your adventure gear into such a compact space?

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of converting a Volkswagen Caddy into a campervan. We’ll delve into the benefits of choosing a Caddy, the conversion process, cost considerations, and much more. Whether you’re a seasoned vanlifer or just starting your journey, this guide is packed with practical advice, tips, and insights to help you create your dream home-on-wheels. So, buckle up and let’s get rolling!

Why Choose a Volkswagen Caddy for a Campervan Conversion?

Size and Space

Right, let’s talk about size and space. The Volkswagen Caddy might look small, but don’t let that fool you. It’s like a Tardis inside, with plenty of room for a cosy bed and all your gear. You can comfortably sleep two people, so it’s perfect for those romantic getaways or epic road trips with your mate. And let’s not forget, the smaller the van, the easier it is to drive. You’ll be zipping around those country lanes like a pro. Plus, in the summer, you can use the great outdoors as your living room. Sorted! 



Now, let’s talk about the money side of things. The Volkswagen Caddy is a proper bargain when it comes to campervan conversions. It’s cheaper to buy than the big boys like the Transporter, which means you might have some extra cash for those fancy extras like air con or sat nav. It’s also cheaper to run, giving you more miles per gallon, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want that? The conversion itself won’t break the bank either. You could save a good few grand compared to a Transporter conversion. And let’s not forget about insurance and tax – cheaper again. It’s a win-win situation.


Versatility and Customization

One of the best things about the Caddy is how versatile it is. There’s a whole world of conversion accessories out there, so you can really make your Caddy your own. Fancy a roof rack for your surfboard? No problem. Want to go off-grid with a solar-powered system? You got it. Need a bigger bed for those lazy mornings? Easy peasy. Whether you’re planning to hit the festivals or escape into the wild, the Caddy’s got you covered. It’s all about making it work for you.

Understanding the Conversion Process

Conversion Overview

Alright, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of converting a Volkswagen Caddy into a campervan. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s definitely doable with a bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of enthusiasm. The process involves several steps, starting from planning your layout, stripping the van to an empty shell, insulating and carpeting, to installing electrics, building furniture, and adding those homely finishing touches. It’s a project that requires time, patience, and a good set of tools. But trust me, the end result is worth every drop of sweat.


Importance of Planning

Now, before you start tearing out seats and drilling holes, let’s talk about planning. It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of the build, but a successful conversion starts with a solid plan. You need to think about how you’ll use the space, where you’ll store your gear, and how you’ll power your appliances. Sketch out a few layout ideas, make a list of the materials you’ll need, and set a realistic timeline for your build. Remember, the key to a smooth conversion process is all in the planning.

Cost of a Volkswagen Caddy Van Conversion

Cost Breakdown

So, how much is this going to set you back? Well, the cost of converting a Volkswagen Caddy into a campervan can vary greatly depending on the level of customization and the materials used. On average, you could be looking at anywhere between £1000 to £5000 (or more depending on what you want.) This includes the cost of insulation, carpeting, electrics, furniture, and appliances. But remember, this is just a ballpark figure. The actual cost could be lower or higher depending on your specific build.


Budgeting Tips

Budgeting for a van conversion can be a bit tricky, but I’ve got a few tips to help you out. First, do your research and shop around for materials. You’d be surprised at the bargains you can find online or at local hardware stores. Second, consider doing as much of the work yourself as you can. Hiring professionals can add up, but there are plenty of resources online to help you tackle the job yourself. Lastly, always factor in a contingency for unexpected costs. Trust me, they always pop up.

Finding the Right Van

Choosing the Right Volkswagen Caddy

When it comes to picking the right Volkswagen Caddy for your campervan conversion, there’s a bit more to it than just picking the one with the nicest paint job. First off, you need to think about the length of your camper. The Volkswagen Caddy comes in two sizes: standard wheelbase and long wheelbase, also known as the Caddy Maxi. The Caddy Maxi is the more popular choice for conversions because it offers more space. If you’re thinking of going for the short wheelbase Caddy, bear in mind that there are some limitations, like not being able to have a pop-top roof or a rock ‘n’ roll bed that you can fold out without standing outside the van.


Next, you need to decide whether you want a panel van, a Maxi Life, or a Caddy Maxi Kombi. The panel van is like an empty van with only front seats and no side windows in the rear. The Maxi Life is a people carrier with seven seats and windows already cut out. The Caddy Maxi Kombi is a bit of a rare bird with two rows of seats. All of these can be converted, but each has its pros and cons.


Finally, you need to decide whether you want a petrol or diesel engine. Volkswagen started making petrol Caddys in 2017, so there are plenty of those around. If you’re going to be doing a lot of long-distance driving, diesel might be more cost-effective. But if you’re going to be doing a lot of city driving or short trips, petrol could be a better option.


Considerations for Selection

When choosing your Volkswagen Caddy, there are a few things you need to consider. First off, check the mileage. A van with high mileage might be cheaper, but it could also have more wear and tear. Next, look at the service history. A well-maintained van is likely to be more reliable. Finally, check the condition of the van. Look for any signs of damage or rust, and check the condition of the tyres and the interior.

Insurance Considerations

Importance of Insurance

Before you start your conversion, it’s important to sort out your insurance. This might seem like a bit of a chore, but it’s really important. If anything happens to your van during the conversion, you want to be covered. Plus, some insurance companies might not cover you if you start the conversion before you get your insurance sorted.


Comparing Insurance Policies

When it comes to choosing an insurance policy, it’s worth shopping around. Different insurance companies offer different levels of cover, and the prices can vary quite a bit. Look for a policy that covers everything you need, like coverage for the conversion process and any equipment or materials you’ll be using. And don’t forget to check the small print!

Gathering Necessary Equipment and Materials

Necessary Tools and Materials

When it comes to converting your Volkswagen Caddy into a campervan, you’re going to need a few key tools and materials to get the job done right. First off, a good tape measure is essential. You’ll be using it constantly to make sure everything fits just right. A utility knife will come in handy for cutting materials to the right size. A drill, along with a good set of bits, is another must-have. You’ll be using it for everything from installing fixtures to creating holes for wiring. A circular saw will be useful for cutting larger pieces of wood or other materials.


Sourcing Equipment

Now, where do you find all these tools and materials? Well, you’ve got a few options. Your local hardware store is a good place to start. They’ll likely have everything you need, and you can get advice from the staff if you’re not sure about something. Online retailers can also be a good source, especially for more specialised tools. Just make sure to check reviews and do your research to ensure you’re getting good quality tools that will last.

Cleaning and Preparing the Van

Cleaning Steps

Before you start the conversion process, you’ll want to give your Volkswagen Caddy a good clean. Remove any rubbish or personal items from the van. Vacuum the interior thoroughly, and wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth. If there are any stubborn stains or marks, a bit of elbow grease and a good cleaning product should do the trick.


Creating an Empty Shell

Once the van is clean, the next step is to create an empty shell. This means removing any unnecessary interior fittings, like seats or storage compartments. You want to start with a blank canvas, so to speak. This will give you the freedom to design your campervan layout exactly how you want it. Just remember to keep any removed parts safe – you never know when they might come in handy!

Installing Electrics

Electrical Setup Process

Alright, let’s talk about the electrical setup. It’s a bit like setting up a mini house, but in your van. You’ll need to think about lighting, charging points for your devices, maybe a fridge, and don’t forget the heater for those chilly nights. The first step is to plan out where everything will go. Sketch it out on paper, or if you’re feeling techy, use a design app. Once you’ve got your plan, you’ll need to install the wiring. This is where you’ll be running cables from your battery to all your devices. It’s a bit like a spider’s web, but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.


Hiring a Professional

Now, I’m all for DIY, but when it comes to electrics, it might be worth getting a professional in. They’ll make sure everything is safe and up to code. Plus, they can give you advice on the best setup for your needs. Remember, safety first!


Alternative Power Options

If you’re planning on going off-grid, you’ll need to think about alternative power options. Solar panels are a great choice. They can charge your battery during the day, so you can use your devices at night. Plus, they’re eco-friendly, which is always a bonus.

Insulating the Van

Importance of Insulation

Next up, insulation. It’s super important for keeping your van cosy in the winter and cool in the summer. Plus, it helps with sound deadening, so you won’t be disturbed by the outside world. There are loads of different types of insulation you can use, like sheep’s wool, polyiso foam board, or even bubble wrap. Each has its pros and cons, so do your research to find the best one for you.


Insulation Steps

When it comes to installing your insulation, start by cleaning the inside of your van. Then, measure and cut your insulation to fit. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, but with insulation. Once you’ve got it all cut, you can start sticking it to the inside of your van. Make sure you cover all the nooks and crannies to keep your van as insulated as possible. And there you have it, a cosy, insulated van ready for your adventures.

Carpet Lining and Cladding

Installation Steps

Right, let’s get stuck in with carpet lining and cladding. First things first, you’ll want to make sure your van’s walls are clean and free from any debris. Once that’s sorted, you’ll need to measure and cut your carpet lining and cladding to fit your van’s walls. It’s a bit like wrapping a present, but on a much larger scale! Remember, it’s always better to cut a bit extra than not enough. You can always trim it down later.


Next up, you’ll need to apply adhesive to the back of your carpet lining and cladding. Make sure you’re wearing a mask for this bit, as the fumes can be a bit strong. Once the adhesive is tacky, you can start sticking your carpet lining and cladding to your van’s walls. Start from the top and work your way down, smoothing out any bubbles as you go.


Achieving a Cosy Finish

Now, you’re probably wondering how to get that cosy, homely finish. Well, it’s all about the details. Adding trim around the edges of your carpet lining and cladding can really make a difference. It gives a neat finish and covers up any rough edges. Also, consider adding some soft furnishings like cushions and throws. They’ll make your van feel more like a home and less like, well, a van!

Installing the Floor

Laying the Floor

Moving on to the floor, the first step is to clean and level your van floor. Once that’s done, you’ll need to cut and install your floor insulation. This will help keep your van warm in the winter and cool in the summer. After the insulation, comes the plywood subfloor. This will provide a solid base for your final floor covering.


Choosing Flooring Material

When it comes to choosing your final floor covering, there are a few things to consider. You’ll want something that’s durable and easy to clean, as it’s going to get a lot of wear and tear. Vinyl is a popular choice as it’s water-resistant and comes in a range of styles. Or, if you prefer a more rustic look, you could go for laminate flooring. Just remember, whatever you choose, make sure it’s suitable for use in a van.

Building the Bed and Furniture

Building Steps

Right, so you’re ready to build your bed and other furniture in your Volkswagen Caddy. Let’s get to it! First things first, you need to decide on the type of bed you want. You could go for a fixed bed, a pull-out bed, or even a convertible bed that can double up as a seating area during the day. Each has its own perks, so it’s all about what suits your needs best.


Once you’ve made your choice, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Start by measuring the space you have and sketching out a plan. Remember, every inch counts in a campervan, so be precise. Next, gather your materials. You’ll need some sturdy wood for the frame, a comfy mattress, and of course, your trusty toolkit.


Now, onto the building part. Start by laying the foundation layer, then install the vertical posts to the bed frame. Once that’s done, add the top layer to the bed frame. Voila! You’ve got yourself a bed. Remember, this is a basic guide, and the process might vary depending on the type of bed you’re building.


Maximizing Space

Now, let’s talk about maximizing space. When living the van life, space is a luxury, and you need to make the most of what you’ve got. One way to do this is by building multi-functional furniture. For instance, your bed could double up as a storage space. Simply raise the bed frame and use the space underneath for storing your belongings. You could also consider building foldable furniture that you can tuck away when not in use.

Adding the Finishing Touches

Making the Van Homely

Alright, your Volkswagen Caddy is starting to look like a proper home on wheels. But we’re not done yet. It’s time to add those finishing touches to make your van feel more homely. Think about adding some cosy cushions, a soft throw blanket, and maybe even some fairy lights for that warm, cosy glow. You could also consider adding some personal touches like photos or artwork. Remember, this is your home away from home, so make it as comfy and personalised as you can.


Including Essentials

Last but not least, let’s talk about essentials. When you’re on the road, it’s important to be prepared for any situation. So, make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and an emergency supply kit. This should include things like a torch, spare batteries, a multi-tool, and some non-perishable food items. It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher and a carbon monoxide detector for safety. And of course, don’t forget your road map and a spare tyre. You never know when you might need them!


And there you have it, folks! A comprehensive guide on transforming your Volkswagen Caddy into a cosy, functional campervan. We’ve covered everything from choosing the right van, understanding the conversion process, and budgeting, to installing electrics, insulating the van, and adding those final homely touches. Remember, converting a van is a journey, not a destination. It’s all about learning, adapting, and making the space uniquely yours. So, don’t be afraid to get stuck in, make mistakes, and learn as you go. After all, the open road awaits, and your Volkswagen Caddy is your ticket to freedom and adventure. Happy travels!

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Hi I'm Will from the UK. Follow me as I build & modify Vans whilst creating videos about the trips I take in the vans. I don't really specialise in any manufacture of van, neither am I professionally trained, just a regular guy winging it as I go along adding my own personal touch.I hope my content brings a smile to your face and maybe inspires you to get on the conversions yourself. Please consider subscribing to help support my channels!