Tonight hasn't ended the way I had hoped. We're still without a useable van with which we want to convert into a stealth type living space for when we're out and about the highways and coastal areas of Ireland. We've been up and down Gumtree and Facebook listings for weeks, semi-stalled due to the fact we didn't want to take on anymore debt, so planned to sell my Bongo instead to part fund this new chapter in our lives.
Having finally managed to find a buyer to take the Bongo off our hands, we started to make a few calls to other vehicle owners looking to move on their various Long Wheel Base (LWB) vans. One in particular 'looked' promising and as soon as I got out of work today, I raced to pick up my other half to make the 4 hour round trip to see the below vehicle:
I even shared my excitement with my Instagram and Twitter followers, sharing some of the images I'd managed to get from the seller on their listing. We found the location okay, and the van was sitting ready for inspection in a yard where the owner had us meet him. Upon our meeting, he'd said that he'd read the message I'd sent him to say we were on our way whilst he was driving and unbeknownst to him, the police were right behind. He's now going to be in receipt of a £60 fine, and 3 penalty points on his license for his troubles, not my fault, but hey ho.
Now first impressions count with me, and all I could see was the various newly spray painted spots along the body work and joins. Obviously I couldn't have known just from the pictures on his listing, but it was plain to see, attempts had cheaply been made to tart this wagon up. The bottoms of the door frames were flaking off, the inside step was as brittle as pastry, it just gave off a vibe of don't look too closely. Which obviously I had no intention of listening too.
The current owner had said it had been used by the previous owner for the purposes of helping him in his business of carpet fitting, which the cargo area attested too. However, the current owner hadn't done one single thing to it to change it's purpose. Bits of carpet were still evident on the shelving, which if I'd had bought it, would have been removed promptly (with an angle grinder).
Another interesting thing I kept picking up on was, he seemed to not know anything about the van, as if he was creating an air of plausible deniability. I've just sold my Bongo, and granted, I've not had it that long I knew all it's features and it's weaknesses, and I openly discussed those with the buyer. This guy was just in denial about knowing anything!
I asked for the engine to be started so I could get an ear to it and look around for any leaks etc. Now, I'll freely admit I'm not mechanically minded, I'm more technically swayed in my understandings of the world, so looking under the bonnet of any car is the same as me looking into a chest cavity staring at a beating heart, I've no clue what I'm honestly looking at, but I can instinctively tell if something is wrong (or I'm deluding myself, who knows?).
As the engine was ticking over, all I could smell was exhaust fumes from the front. Alarm bells to my mind. The last time I smelt carbon monoxide from the wrong end of a car was when my own Mercedes decided that it had given up on life and was waiting to blow a valve rendering it scrap metal. When challenged, again, nothing known, hardly anything said.
I was done. Thanks, but no thanks. Four hours lost, £30 in fuel, but I was happy in my stance that I was not going to be taking on anyone else's bad choices. I can only speculate that he bought it recently and might have realised he'd bought a half dead horse, so he was gonna do his best to shift it on. Again, I just want to reiterate that I'm no mechanic, nor am I inferring that this guy was trying to rip me off, maybe the van was 100% sound, but my gut feeling is, it just wasn't right, needless to say, I was walking away.
So the quest for the start of our van life dream continues. We're looking at a Ford Transit this evening, not as tall as I would have liked, but we've decided for the type of travel we're looking to do, a shower really isn't the sort of luxury we need, so there's no need for the height space required to fit one. I might get one of those exterior solar ones in the future, who knows?
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