A Berlingo car at the right price and condition came up at a local garage and after much measuring (much to the amusement of the very long suffering salesman) was bought and driven home. Rear seats were removed (very easy, only seven screws) and put in the loft (very difficult, blooming heavy, I had to use a winch).
We decided that, as the space in the back of a Berlingo is limited, we would build a tin tent just for sleeping in. An awning would be used for cooking and living, just like proper camping. More plans were drawn (back of large envelope), trip to B&Q for timber, varnish, wood glue, coach bolts and screws, trip to Wicks for the right size ply and together with wood I had stored at home (I can't bear to throw good timber away), I started work.
After about a week of measuring, marking, sawing, drilling, putting in screws, tightening nuts, drinking tea, glueing, sanding down and varnishing we had a sleeping platform. It is held in by straps, it is easily removed and the rear seats replaced in a few minutes (if you want to, we don't, it stays in the car all the time), the car is not modified in any way. With the front seats moved forward and the bed extension fitted the bed platform is 6' long by 4' wide.
We started using sleeping pads that are designed for garden seats which were OK but a little thin. We are now using foam guest beds that fold, they are slightly too long but can be squashed into place. We use a silver screen on the windscreen and some dark blue curtains that were made for the side and rear windows. The Berlingo has a strange power saving mode that switches off all auxilary power after a few minutes that can only be reset by starting the engine so LED camping lights are used.
The awning is an Outdoor Revolution Outhouse Handi.
So how did the outfit work out, I would say brilliantly, it does exactly what we had hoped for. We still have a standard, very versatile car which we use for all our long journeys, and can be left loaded for camping. The food and camping gear including cooker, cool box, large washing up bowl, small bucket with lid (all seasoned campers will know what it's for), folding table, stools and EHU, are carried under the platform. The sleeping bags travel on the folded beds with a blanket over the top, pillows are carried in a stuff sack together with small clothes bags, behind the passenger seat. Small dog travels behind the drivers seat with a travel harness clipped onto the existing rear seat belt. The bed is very comfortable and there is plenty of room as there are no cupboards or cookers taking up space. We call it Kipper and we love it to bits.
We are very pleased with the outfit and would recommend it.
See more pictures in the slideshow below
Review of Derek's self-build Berlingo Camping Car
It has always been my ambition to produce another camper, my first attempt was on a VW T2 van. I had windows put in and extended the raised rear floor with a bed platform and locker, it had to go however as I was using it to commute and it had a terrible thirst for petrol.
I had been toying with the idea of adapting a Berlingo van and had done basic plans (back of an envelope) but decided that I wanted car windows. If you start modifying a car the insurance companys get twitchy and want silly premiums so an adaptation that can be removed seemed a good choice.
A VIDEO TOUR AROUND THE SELF BUILD BERLINGO
If you are inspired and fancy a bit of DIY here are some pictures taken during the construction.
You can download a pdf of Derek’s construction notes here