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  • Writer's picturePolaris Overland

So This Happened!

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

It’s 6 months now since we last did an update and in that time we have seen a few changes and a pandemic strike the world creating medical and financial crises in its wake.

Our start to 2020 turned out to be a bit of a pig. The Overland Bound New Year NC500 trip for us came to a grinding halt near John O Groats on New Years Eve when Wilson for the first time ever broke down and we couldn’t fix him by the roadside. This resulted in early retirement from the trip with an apparently known issue for TD5 Defenders around capacitors on the ECU stopping the injectors from operating correctly.

This was a huge disappointment as we left the remaining members to continue their trip whilst ours involved a ride on the back of 3 relay transporters and a long drive home.

This seemed to set the tone for our start of 2020. New years day Dave came down with a stinking cold that meant he was in bed for days and then Angela followed and even her daughter Jodie. By the time we were back at work none of us felt like we had actually had a break.

For us both it seemed our respective surgery was imminent but with the quick growth of the Covid-19 Pandemic our surgeries now seem a long way off but they fail into insignificance when we see and hear of families torn apart by the Coronavirus, losing family members and suffering catastrophic financial collapse to their households. For the people affected we offer our condolences and our best wishes for the future.

For the overlanders whose dream trips have been postponed, cancelled or come to a grinding halt we can only wish you future trips will be successful and drama free and you will be back travelling again very soon. Remember there is help and support here Overland Bound Support Alert.

Having suffered another cold wet winter and despite our best efforts of a new awning etc we were both still struggling with the cold when out and about in Wilson. Previously we had discussed upgrading to a Defender 110, fitting it out with a pop top etc and using that for the next few years but with neither of us getting any younger we also knew at some point a Defender would not be suitable for us at all and had decided that we would ultimately go the camper van route for exploring more of Europe. Financially this was going to be excessive first buying a decent 110 Defender at a reasonable cost and then fitting it out would mean little change from around £30K. Then in 4 or 5 years we would be needing a camper van which would be another big chunk of money required.

With all of the above in mind Dave started looking at alternative solutions around 4WD Camper vans. This would be a compromise between the off road capability of a Defender against the comfort a Camper van could offer. There are many overland ready built vehicles but the costs are excessively prohibitive with overland ready Sprinter vans looking at £70K and upwards. We were not interested in anything too big as this would restrict where we could travel and whilst we do want to get off the beaten track heavy duty off roading has never been our aim except where absolutely necessary.

The compromise for us was a VW T5 4Motion Transporter. Whilst researching VW Transporters Dave found an article on VW Swampers which are VW T4’s, T5’s and T6’s that are raised and built with more off road in mind. Not all swampers are 4WD so after a bit of looking we found a suitable candidate in England. Just prior to our arranged inspection much to our disappointment it was sold. However the seller had another T5 4Motion ready to be prepped as a swamper. It had an internal kitchen which we wanted rather than a tailgate kitchen that pulls out and a pop top which we initially did not want. We discussed the pro and cons and decided to get an inspection done. This came back with no issues so we agreed extra work to be completed including the adding of an Airtop 2000STC Diesel Heater. All works to be completed and subject to our final inspection we could still walk away.

Final inspection completed and we now own a 2015 VWT5.1 4 Motion Transporter, its 4 berth if needed has a 35mm Eibach lift and as an ex AA vehicle has an extended range fuel tank and full service history.

So now after completing a few short trips in the new van (we have not decided on a name yet) we are starting to make it overland ready. Dave has been adding additional support and strengthening to the internal cabinets and Angela has been organising the storage so we can carry everything we need. As with any Overland vehicle the list is increasing as we will look to add solar panels, nudge bar and additional lighting externally as well as brackets to mount the Maxtrax. We have bought an awning and Dave is now just looking at an opportunity to fit it.

So the van is now a new work in progress, a new learning curve from Wilson and we will document our success and failures as we progress.

Additionally to working on the van Wilson will be getting some much needed TLC and a bit of a makeover. The past few years on the road have left him looking and feeling a bit jaded so whilst the Coronavirus lockdown continues we will endeavour to get as much done as we can until we get the opportunity to head out on the road again. For now Wilson and the Van remain parked up on the driveway waiting for their next adventure.

Stay safe everyone and stay home to save lives.

Dave and Angela

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