Greetings & Welcome!
Like so many others out there, it sounds like it was built to sell, not to actually use.
A) It was not a good year for Sprinters, you want a pre 2007.
B) Is it RVIA certified? If not, the conversion holds no inherent value.
C) Older, factory camper vans and RV’s can be found very cheap and in excellent condition with low miles. I’ve bought both a Class B and a Class C recently for friends, each under $2500. Both with low miles and recent mechanic inspections and work all done. One was $2500 ready to roll, the other was $1200 and needed $1,000 worth of deferred maintenance to make it as good as new.
D) If you’re going to be living in it, you want your own toilet & shower.
E) Ignore all the YouTube and Instascam BS. 99.9% of it is all posted by promoters, who are far worse than any typical sleazy car salesman. Whether it is obvious or not, they’re after your money, and could care less if you crash and burn once they get it.
F) Opening windows all around are far better than roof vents. For the most part, solar is a terrible investment that will never pay for itself. A generator and an isolator is much cheaper and far more reliable. The same holds true for 12v compressor fridges unless they’re 20+ years old. Anything newer dies shortly after the warranty is up. 3-way fridges are a far better choice.
G) Older campers really hold their value because they are far better quality than newer stuff, but they can still be found cheap from people who don’t realize their value.
H) Many places require either factory campers (RVIA), or at least fully self contained campers (toilet/shower etc.) before you’ll be allowed to camp there.
I) Insurance companies will often be a problem for non RVIA certified campers. Even “IF” they will insure you, they will deny any claims later and cancel your policy. Insurance companies don’t like anything that has been owner modified.
J) Newer rigs depreciate in value very quickly, while fully depreciated rigs hold their value quite well. The price you pay has absolutely nothing to do with quality, comfort, convenience, or reliability. Older American is usually much better quality than newer Euro style. These days newer means cheaper to produce and lower quality products. It’s a trap best avoided.
K) The best way to save money in this lifestyle is in the purchase and repair costs. Older American gassers are cheap to repair or replace. The simplest systems also have less to go wrong with them. That doesn’t mean going without, it just means adjusting to more efficient, and/or sometimes unusual solutions. Highly promoted stuff is rarely good stuff, they just pay well, to get people to buy their over priced garbage. It’s all made in China these days. Older American stuff is much much better quality.
L) Last but not least, CARGO VANS ARE NOT STEALTHY!!! Obvious campers who don’t try to hide are MUCH more accepted everywhere. People who try to be sneaky or hide are like a magnet for trouble. Nobody fears an obvious, honest, friendly camper who has nothing to hide and is a good neighbor.
My current camper van easily paid for itself within a couple of months, and that was over 10 years ago now. That’s the kind of return on your investment that I look for, and they’re not that difficult to find. You might need to expand your search area though, and watch out for rust and outdated tires. A pre-purchase inspection could save you a bundle in the future. Look up recalls, and specific problems with different makes and models. Don’t get suckered into a diesel, their repair and maintenance costs will end up costing you far more than a gas model, and their supposed better gas mileage doesn’t even compare to the higher costs. I once ended up putting over $10k into diesel repairs on a highly recommended diesel that had under 100k miles on it. I could have driven a million miles on gas engines for less repair/replacement costs.
Popular doesn’t mean practical, just better promoted for someone else’s gain. History is often a far better teacher than “New & Improved”. I grew up without electricity, which didn’t mean we did without, it just meant we did things differently, and I don’t mean with solar panels because they weren’t even around yet. This is the kind of knowledge that truly helps with this lifestyle. Newer is newer, but rarely better than tried, proven, and time tested older technologies. Today, off grid air conditioning appears to be a major and expensive problem, yet using older technology is easy, cheap, and equally effective. That’s what I use. Knowledge is often far more effective than throwing money at questionable solutions.
Many people are also much happier with larger rigs than vans, and older motorhomes can often be a steal. I’d consider and compare as many options as possible before making a final decision. Each has different pro’s & con’s.
"Be creative & recycle, reuse, & repurpose." ~ The Camper Van Man