The launch of the Race Van Build
This build became an on going project, with lengthy discussions, development time and finalising the specification all coinciding with the workload within the NWCC workshop. All scheduled T6 conversions became a priority and the Race Van build was brought in house as and when possible.
The brand new VW Crafter was a factory order, which had a huge list of extras added to the specification during the vehicle build process in VW Germany. The reason behind this is that we wanted to deliver a vehicle with a similar specification to the popular VW T6 Highline Model.
The Research …
For a project like this it is essential that we were to study the current market, looked at what was currently available, what was of interest and interpreted this into a design that we could then improve upon, further develop and add the usual NWCC flare.
Firstly we decided the most important factor of this build was going to be the rear garage area, which is what the Race Van has been intentionally designed around. We had read a lot of interesting reviews about MX / Enduro riders and the hate that they had for wheel removal and shock compression methods to enable the bikes to fit within the standard race van set-ups; After a day of riding the rider simply wants to use what is left of their energy to load up as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Reviews are really important with any style of build, especially for one that we hadn’t even tackled before, to a vehicle we hadn’t ever converted. The Race Van was a huge learning curve for team NWCC, there was months of reading and scrolling through thousands of images trying to source ideas, looking at already available designs and important factors without simply copying established market leaders.
Four members of the NWCC team currently ride MX, Enduro and Trials bikes so we had a little head start with knowing how the vehicle should perform. A great advantage was our in house trim shop manager Lee, who along with his 7 year old son regularly compete in trials. We absorbed a lot of what Lee had to say with regards to what he as an end user would want and how he would use the vehicle.
How this build was designed …
This build has been designed to withstand hard-hitting UK weather conditions, it was essential to include high end materials throughout the interior, materials which could undertake daily / weekly / weekend use. To construct the furniture we used Superva light weight ply, topped with Staron solid work surfaces delivering that high end quality feel throughout the interior, and the Altro flooring throughout the living compartment is assured to withstand those muddy feet.
This build comes fully equipped with some serious electrical hardware including a full C.B.E Electrical management system, Truma (4) hot air and hot water systems, Dometic 12v compressor Waeco 65L Fridge, Dometic combination sink and burner, Dometic roof light, 150HR leisure source, 240v Hook up facilities, 150watt solar panel, as well as a 20L under chassis LPG gas tank to keep your water and heating warm. The build also includes a Bullfinch external hot water shower point, and a Bullfinch external BBQ point.
The living quarter has been designed to make that away from home stay as comfortable as possible with materials and facilities including, an RIB 2 person Seat/Bed System, venison blinds, 12v, USB, and 240v power points, Avtex TV, storage for clothing, cooking equipment and essentials, roof lighting and adjustable ambient lighting.
The practical layout extends to incorporate the use of the front cab captain chairs with added swivel rotation to ensure a versatile seating arrangement as well as maximising the use of the space available for within the living quarter. All seating has been upholstered in an Autolux tan leather with a contrasting cotton stitch and bold stitch design really enhancing that luxurious feel.
To the rear of the living quarter the raised over garage sleeping area is equipped with its own USB power points, 12v lighting, memory foam mattress, and includes custom sized bedding. The second sleeping platform which comes from the reverse of the RIB seat measures 200cm long and 106cm wide, again with a very comfortable 120mm memory foam mattress topper.
What we have learnt …
Building this huge vehicle has not only been really exciting for team NWCC it has been extremely challenging and we feel the lessons we have learned during the build process are absolutely priceless. Having the option of this larger build going forward as a business is a different avenue for the NWCC team and we feel this is the right direction for the team to take. Officially from this day forward as well as being specialist T6 convertors we will be tiptoeing into the Race-van market adapting our skills and knowledge into this specialist sector.
Exciting times are ahead for all of us at NWCC, we are already putting in place designs, work practices and specification sheets with Mercedes to collaborate with the Sprinter. We are getting heavily involved within the 4×4 all terrain specialist vehicles sector with arrangements having already been made with a US company who specialise in the all terrain sector, all meaning that there will be some big exciting changes at NWCC, so watch this space!