Story by Phil Krooswyk |

May 25, 2017 |

We make conversion-ready camper van kits, but maybe we’re not the best option for you, or maybe you haven’t discovered all your options yet as you go about selecting a camper van. What we’re really here for is getting you into a camper van, even if it’s not a Wayfarer Van, and feel the most important part is sharing all the wonderful things that come with owning a camper van.

We’ve compiled and simplified all of our research, making it easier and faster for you to decide on that dream camper van.

Tips for Selecting a Camper Van

Explore the three most common options when selecting a camper van, which are: having it custom built, building it yourself, or purchasing new or used. But before we start, here is a brief overview of the options, so you can then quickly scroll to the best category and start your research.

Custom Builds

  • Price range, depending on level of customization: $15,000 to $100,000+
  • Average wait period from order to completion: 4 months to 16 months

DIY Build

  • Price range, depending on level of customization: $800 to $12,000+
  • Average time to completion, several weeks to several years depending on ability, wants, resources, time and motivation

Purchasing new or used

  • Depending on make, model, age and condition
  • Typical used Westfalias cost between $15,000 to $65,000, with yearly maintenance costs running between several hundred to several thousand
  • A typical used RV type camper van starts at around $32,000, with yearly maintenance costs again running between several hundred to several thousand

Our Favorite Custom Builders

– Alpine Mechanisms

Located in our home town, Colorado Springs, Chris and Mark at Alpine Mechanisms make amazing custom camper vans, mixing form and function for a complete van that’ll turn heads for sure. Also, if you’re looking for some additions to your Wayfarer Van that you aren’t confident in yourself to do, give them a call and they can get to work with whatever it is you’d like.

– Recon Campers

We’re a fan of Recon because like us, they focus on micro vans, specifically the Nissan NV 200. Their background is in Automotive Manufacturing and attention to detail is on point. You can purchase just a pop-top or a complete camper.

– Sportsomobile

The Grand Daddy of camper vans. Sportsmobile has been around since 1961, specializing in overland type vans, which are built to be and stay off-grid. If you’ve been an outdoor enthusiast long enough you’ve probably heard of or have seen a Sportsmobile, but be ready for a price tag.

– VanlifeCustoms 

Another Colorado company, Vanlife Customs puts emphasis on interior aesthetics, putting you in that ultimate #vanlife vehicle or mobile tiny home. Their latest creations have included copper backsplashes and reclaimed barn wood – fancy.

Building Your Own Camper Van

Building your own camper van can be very rewarding and is a great way to save money if you’re on a tight budget. However, time is the biggest factor you will be giving up. Depending on your wants and your ability to take it from conception to realization will determine how long it takes you to build your van. To get started, we recommend following all or some of these steps.


Prioritize your needs and draw out your ideas WITH dimensions, and remember cardboard is much cheaper than plywood. Shape your ideas out of some cardboard and duct tape first, it will give you a sense of dimensions.


Research, research, research. Because once you build everything into your camper van you’re not going to want to rip it out and do it again. Youtube offers tons of videos of people who give guided tours of their camper vans; also through Pinterest and some bloggers, you will most likely find some variation of what you have in mind.


If you have little to no mechanical or trades experience we recommend finding a friend that does and sitting down with them before you rush out and start purchasing your materials. In fact, if you can persuade that friend with a few six-packs of beer and some pizzas to help you with your build that would be ideal. We’re not saying a camper van build cannot be done without experience, however, simple mechanical and carpentry skills (and the necessary tools) can go a long way, save you lots of money and more importantly time. Like all DIY’s, it’s easier said than done, and with a camper van, what you thought could be a weekend build has now turned to several months.


Get out there and use it, cause that’s what you made it for. We have been through several generations of our layout before reaching our current setup. Each generation was tested out over the course of several months and many camping trips, took notes, then went back to our design with the modifications. Expect to have slight tweaks and modifications to your setup, it won’t be perfect the first time.

Purchasing New or Used

Much like a used car, there are many ways to purchase a used camper van. If you’re looking for a used Westfalia you’ll have the best luck searching in areas with a higher density; that is, parts of the country that have a higher concentration of camper vans than others. For instance, Portland Oregon has the highest concentration of camper vans than anywhere else in the nation. Also, parts of the country are more conducive to the camper van lifestyle. Such places like Southern California, Oregon, Colorado and Utah. Search the classified ads and Craigslists for major metropolitan cities in these states and we’re sure you’ll be able to find something.

If perusing the internet for deals isn’t your thing or your skeptical about what you find in the classifieds then you can hone in your search using some more specific, trustworthy platforms. Go-Westy has a classifieds page where you can search their inventory of rotating camper vans. Also, you can search Camping World or Lazy Days to find more RV type camper vans, they can be found under the Class B section on each website.

We hope this helps as you go about searching and selecting a camper van that’s right for you. We wish you the best of luck! However, we have been in your shoes, looking at all the options, and because we just couldn’t find the right solution, we decided to start Wayfarer Vans. We have been able to package the best of each option into an affordable, modern van and that gives you the feeling and finish of a custom build without the price tag or the long wait. Check out our Walter Conversion Kit, Walt Conversion Kit, and Wilford Conversion Kit to start your camper van journey!