Van of the Month – The Boardseeker van

Van of the Month


This month it’s the Boardseeker van and this van has to work for its living! We have 3 main requirements of the vehicle:

  1. Advertising for the magazine at beaches & events etc.
  2. Practical for carrying equipment (windsurfing and camera/video).
  3. Useful for day to day use as a ‘family car’.

If you are struggling to persuade your other half that it would be a good idea to change the family car for a van, then maybe this vehicle will change their mind…

Basic Van

Rather than go down the Combi or Sportline route (plusher versions of the Transporter van), we decided to order a ‘basic’ van and then spec it up afterwards. This was more cost effective and allowed greater choice of equipment and layout etc.

We deliberated between the T5 Transporter and the Mercedes Vito for quite some time, but in the end opted for the Transporter, mainly due to the increased length in the back, which is particularly important for the extra rear seat that we have fitted. So we ordered:

  • T5 Transporter 174 LWB
  • 2 Captains chairs in front
  • Metallic black to disguise the rear windows that would be fitted afterwards

Dealer fitted extras

When the van arrived at the dealership, the rear side windows were put into the vehicle. Standard VW glass was used, but the price was much cheaper as an after-fit than having them factory fitted. These 2 windows and the rear tailgate were tinted for added security and also to keep the vehicle looking like a van rather than a minibus.

The bumpers, mirrors and door handles were then colour coded by the dealership to match the rest of the vehicle.


Styling extras

This was the fun part! Van Style do very cool van specific accessories for all ages and models of vans.

If you want your van to look less like a tradesman’s vehicle and something your missus would be happy to be seen in, then you should check out their website.

We didn’t want the van to look like something from MaxPower magazine, but being a mobile advert for our business, we wanted it to look the part. This is what we opted for:

  20” Alloy wheels and low profile tyres – These wheels are great. They are ‘van rated’ so you won’t have any insurance issues and in 20” certainly look the business. We were a bit concerned that the ride quality would be poor with the big wheels and tyres, but in practice you notice very little difference from the standard 17” wheels.
  Lowering springs – The van has been lowered 3cm. We were worried that this may cause a problem when off-roading through dunes etc, but it survived many trips to the Maze during the Tiree wave event, so if it can handle that, it can handle anything. Upside is that it corners a lot nicer (with less roll) and looks a bit smarter as well.
  Chrome side rails – No justification for this other than they look good!
  Front bumper spoiler – The front bumper spoiler sets the front of the van off nicely and is an alternative to getting the standard VW Sportline bumper (which costs a fortune!)

  Front grille chroming – The chroming just adds a bit more of a quality look and is an alternative to doing the whole Sportline or Caravelle front end.
  Rear grab handle chroming & lower tailgate chrome strip – Again, just a nice finish for the back of the vehicle, helping to make it look a bit less ‘commercial vehicle’.

Interior extras

The interior was designed (by us) to carry 6 boards, 10 sails, masts, booms, wetsuits, camera equipment, a passenger and everything else that might be need for windsurfing trips. The layout has not been designed to sleep in, although could easily be adapted to suit by extending the length of the raised floor/shelf.



The interior work was all carried out by Exploria van conversions in Leeds and included:

Racking – The rack is designed to carry 6 boards (on the side) across the bottom. Masts are strapped together underneath the raised floor/shelf. This system works really well. By taping the mast bags together, you can actually slide each mast out of the bag individually as required. The sails fit neatly up each side of the van. We can actually fit up to 6 sails up each side and they slide in and out easily when needed at the beach. The shelf is used to store dry stuff (such as bags etc). The whole system works really well and leaves plenty of room at the front for the extra seat and bag storage etc. The shelf is also removable if you happen to need the whole space to pack gear.

  Rear armchair passenger seat (removable) – Allows you to carry an extra passenger and retain the 2 ‘captains chairs’ in the front. You can remove the seat completely using the 4 wing nuts.
  Front passenger swivel seat – The whole front passenger seat can swivel through 360 degrees. This is useful for making extra space/changing area etc in the back when parked at the beach.
  Laminated sealed floor – With wet kit on board, we decided it was best to have a sealed floor. The campervan style floor is very durable and completely watertight.
Rock wool insulation front and rear to reduce noise – With so much empty space and no insulation, a van can feel a bit like driving a shed at times. We therefore had all the side panels packed with rock wool. This cut down the road noise substantially and added a bit of heat insulation.
  Carpet lined walls and window surrounds (rear) – The window surrounds were a bit rough where they had been cut out (with a jigsaw) to fit the new side glass. Carpeting the walls of the van and around the windows makes the interior a much nicer place to be.
  Velour roof in the rear – The standard roof is bare metal. Exploria fitted this velour roof, helping to cut down condensation, road noise and making the interior a lot cosier.
  DVD fold out screen in front and headrest mounted screen in rear – Something to keep passengers entertained on long journeys. In the front, we have a foldout DVD screen and in the rear, there is an 8” monitor mounted in the back of the front seat head rest.

Bluetooth hands free – Allowing you to make phone calls on the move.

Origin Speed camera detector – No explanation required!


Rear audio speakers – These were neatly fitted into the rear lining.

I-pod movie compatibility – Connecting to the main head unit through an AV lead, allows you to watch i-pod movies through the 2 main screens in the van. You can also hook a video camera to the AV lead to playback footage through the main screens.

Final Comments

We are really happy with the van. The interior works great and is easy to clean. It’s also flexible enough to suit most carrying needs. The exterior looks cool without being too over the top.

Overall, I think we have come about as close as possible to the comfort, image and driveability of a car but still maintained the usefulness of a van. If you want a family vehicle that works a treat for windsurfing, this could be your answer!

If you have more money to spend, you could even add leather seats and have your engine ‘chipped’ for extra power!



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