After being on the Car Matchmaker TV show it became very clear that Van Life was our plan!
The Original Van Life Plan
Now I should mention that we did go back and forth several times, and I think it’s in our best interest to tell the whole story. So, to make sure you know the whole story… Here are some of the ideas we considered were…
– Getting a more expensive motor home because there were better financing options.
– Buying a built out Sportsmobile Mercedes Sprinter 4×4.
– Buying the Mercedes Sprinter 4×4, having Sportsmobile do the pop top, and we would finish the rest of the interior ourselves (handy at building RV’s we are not).
– Plan X – Momentum Vans
The Thought Process
Buying a “motor home”
Let’s be real… buying a more expensive motor home just so we could get better financing was a dumb idea, but we were exploring everything. And I will say, the Winnebago Sprinter vans are really cool! But they are expensive!
Sportsmobile has done a great job of creating this almost mythical presence. People who were in the know would talk about how they saw a Sportsmobile once when they were out camping. So, they’ve created this almost unattainable van life dream.
At first, we thought this was super cool. But, once we started going doing the process of seeing what it would take to order a Sportsmobile we realized their ordering process and customer service were a HUGE hurdle for people looking to buy the mythical Sportsmobile.
Let’s just say that their business processes could be improved in a major way. And it seemed like they didn’t really want to help people. It was a very strange.
All that being said, we used their archaic system and explored what it would take to get a Sportsmobile build that would fit our needs.
We found that it would take around $135,000 to get the van life setup that we wanted. But at that price we were getting the standard Sportsmobile materials, which we didn’t really like. They just look really cheap.
That, and there was over a year wait to get a van.
We do the work
When you read all of the van life forums, look at all of the Instagram profiles, and watch all of the YouTube videos… You get the feeling that you could easily build out your own super cool van. Not to mention, I had put a lift on a Toyota truck (like 15 years ago) with the help of a mechanic. Ha!
So, of course, this is what we decided to do.
We did a lot of research and decided that Sportsmobile had the best track record with pop tops on Mercedes Sprinter vans (turned out we were wrong), but we decided to have them do the pop top, and Joe and Emily (mechanics in training) would do the rest!
How hard could plumbing, electrical, and wood work be…?
Plan X – Momentum Vans
Up until this point our plan was working flawlessly!
We had ordered our Mercedes Sprinter 4×4, and it was delivered ahead of time with all the bells and whistles we wanted (including rain sensing windshield wipers for Emily).
Side note: If you’re thinking of ordering a new Sprinter Van, Keith Donaldson at Seattle Mercedes was (and continues to be) amazing! We would highly recommend him, and use him again! (206) 851-8947 – [email protected]
We got into the Sportsmobile shop in Fresno a few months later, and the pop top was installed.
Well, I should mention that I guess everything didn’t go super flawlessly… On our drive back to Seattle from the Sportsmobile shop there was a major rain storm, and the ladder that Sportsmobile installed started leaking heavily.
To fix the leak we had to take the van to a Sportsmobile certified mechanic in Kent WA. I did think it was pretty amazing that Sportsmobile installed a pop top in about 36 hours, maybe it’s because they don’t check their work…
Time to get to work!
Now it was time to start doing some work! Getting our hands dirty, ya know!
Well, it’s seems that the gods were on our side because just around the time that we started considering order electrical parts to get the build going… Emily and I both got pretty slammed with our regular work.
Due to our lack of time to commit to the van project we started considering if it made more sense for us to slow down our current money making work to save money by building out our van with our own hands, OR if we should keep brining in the dough and look into hiring someone for the task…
So, we started putting our feelers out to family and friends. And wouldn’t you know it… my brother had just met a couple who lived in a boat right down the dock from where he lived in his boat. Totally normal everyday things. And they were thinking of starting an adventure van company. But they weren’t sure if they were going to move forward with the company or not.
To continue reading about how this turned out… click here