Thoughts: Why a Sprinter?
Jules and I had been dating for a few months and it was going fantastically. We had so much in common, including the idea of taking a year off to live on the road. I owned a Volkswagen Eurovan with a pop-top and we had talked about taking that on our sabbatical. It’s a great van and it had been perfect for weekend camping trips, weekday trips around the bay area as well as being my every day commuter car. It would have been fine, but I was already thinking about the perfect vehicle to live out of.
The Sprinter has a lot of things going for it. If properly cared for, they last forever. You can find a ton of used vans with over 300k miles on them. The turbo-diesel engine is really efficient, rated at 27MPG for the five cylinder model, but will probably get closer to 22MPG in reality. It has an interior height over 6’ - standing up straight is an important feature for a home. And finally, it would come with nothing inside so we could put in exactly what we wanted and it would truly be a home and not just a van.
There are also a lot of resources on converting these vans. A lot of people document their conversion process, which is extremely helpful and motivating. There are forums, e-books and professional outfits converting Sprinters. Some of the most helping and inspiring include:
Jules and I had talked about these ideas. I had effused my love for Sprinters. We had talked about outfitting a cargo van sprinter to live out of. We had done some online perusing of vans and I had one I wanted to check out. I made plans to head down to San Jose, CA to check it out. When I showed up later that day at her office with a newly purchased van that she was seeing for the first time, I wasn’t sure how she would react. Shocked would put it pretty mildly. But after talking it out, and her adjusting to the fact that after just a few months we were going to do this, she was excited.
We ended up getting the 2002 Freightliner branded Sprinter. It had a 170k on it, but the engine was in great condition. The interior of the van had definitely been pretty heavily used as a work/cargo van and needed some TLC, but that was all going to be taken care of with the conversion process. If I had to go back and do it again, I would probably spend a couple thousand more up front and get a van with a bit lower mileage and in slightly better condition, but otherwise we’re super happy with it so far.