Guide to buying a Campervan for sale in Dorset

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Guide to buying a Campervan for sale in Dorset

Often hiring a van is a first step towards buying a campervan. There are an abundance of campervans around Dorset and Devon as this area generally fits in with the lifestyle a camper brings.

So we thought we’d do a very rough guide to buying a campervan if you are coming in from it completely fresh. First of all the initial question is what type of capervan fits your needs the best?? The campervans are all built around the VW Transporter vans. They came in various generations as follows below with their years of production:

Generations of VW Transporter

T1 1950 – 1967

T2 (early bay) 1967 – 1972

T2 (late bay) 1972 – 1979

T3 (or T25) 1979 – 1992

T4 1990 – 2003

T5 (pre facelift) 2003 – 2009

T5 (facelift) 2009 – 2016

T6 2015 – present

T2 Summary

For the purposes of this guide we will just examine the VW Bay Window campervans as these are what people typically associate with the name campervan. This is not that we think less of any of the other generations, in fact we think they are all beautiful in their own way… Maybe we will cover the others in later blog posts 🙂

So first things first, there are 2 ‘sub generations’ of the T2 Bay window campervan – the early bay and late bay. For all intents and purposes, superficially, there aren’t too many differences between the two. If you start to work on these vans however you will soon see that VW overhauled a significant amount between the early and late bays. Here at BH Campervan Hire our T2 Bay Window for Hire (Lil-Blu) is an early bay. The main list of differences is actually listed very well on the Early Bay Forum list of early Bay differences. Did we mention one of the key things when buying a Campervan was to sign up to a good forum as soon as possible?! There are an abundance of them out there and contain a great community of people ready to answer the most obscure question 🙂

The campervan prices range greatly between about £3k – £50k and as with anything you generally pay for what you get. However what you don’t want to do is miss a bargain or even worse pay a lot of money for dud!

Buying a T2 Bay Campervan

A rough guide however the main things to look for are below:


The worst thing to affect a van!

  • Pay special attention to the bottom six inches of the vehicles but get underneath it to check. Obviously the chasis is the most important thing to check.
  • Panels can be replaced and there are some great reproductions being made still, but take into consideration the issues in repainting / matching paint etc as it is probably a custom colour and I’ve yet to find a paintshop that can exactly match well enough just to do one panel.
  • Wheel arches – check all wheel arches to see if they are starting to bubble or are full of filler. Either is not a great sign.
  • The flooring can start to rust which can be a real pain to weld, depending on where it is and if you can get to it under the car or not.
  • Doors can sometimes become full of muck which in turn stop the drainage holes which then lead to the bottom (initially inside) the door corroding.


This is not necessarily a deal breaker and to be honest a new type 4 engine can be had for a couple of thousand, so depending on how much of a deal the van is it may be worth replacing for a solid example. The main thing that you need to check for is that the engine hasn’t been ‘cooked’. As the engine is air cooled if it gets too hot it will basically start to warp which is really not good news at all.

  • Start the engine up. Is there any smoke?
  • Does it tick over nicely?
  • Is there an oil temperature gauge fitted? I don’t think they were in from the factory but they are an essential piece of kit if you want to keep the van healthy (also shows the last keeper cared about the van as well)


Luckily these vans aren’t like vans of today and not everything is reliant on electrics. There are however a few things to check that will be a right pain in the neck if they break!

  • Do all the lights work?
  • Does the ignition light turn off when the engine is blipped after start up?
  • Does the Oil light come on and then turn off at start up?

Hopefully that gives you a taste of what to look for. If you want to come down to us in Poole, Dorset we will be happy to talk you through any questions you may have! Alternatively contact us via the website and we will respond within 24 hours, even just for a chat 🙂

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