Imagine driving along a winding, coastal road in the bright sunshine. You see a gorgeous place to stop just moments from the beach. So you pull over, open the door on your VW camper and race down the ocean with your surfboard. Now that is The Life, and it’s one you can have too if you so desire. Whether you pick the Kombi, the T4 Transporter, the Bay, the Wedge Vanagon or the Pop Top VW camper van as your own. So what’s stopping you? Well, like many people it may be the huge cost of restoring these beautiful beasts to their former glory. The issue is that fixing the living quarters, engine, and exterior, or all three can be super expensive. However, if it is in your heart to dedicate yourself to restoring these beauties to their former glory. So you can head out onto the open road for the festivals, surfing and camping trips in the great outdoors, read on for some advice on how to make your camper work for you financially as you do it.
Engine is working / roadworthy
If you are lucky enough to have a roadworthy VW camper you are in a good position to start earning some money from it. Of course, if not then your first priority is to get that engine and bodywork sorted, so it’s safe and legal on the road.
To do this, it can help to use some free advice like the information you can find on VW enthusiasts blogs like this one here, and the one here. As there you will discover a community of like-minded people that can assist you in identifying the issues you will have to fix and how to go about doing that. Something that can save you the cost of taking it to a professional VW restorer, something that can cost around $25,000 if you are doing a classic Kombi model! Ouch!
So, if you do have a roadworthy VW then one option you may want to look at is to become a courier. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to the best looking vehicle, as you won’t be transporting passengers. So that means you can work while you save up the money to get the interior and exterior done. Of course, if you are transporting medium to heavy loads you may want to invest in a real truck instead. One with a larger capacity, so you can move more and earn more money for your restoration. Check out some details about sales here, if you think this could be a profitable option.
Being a courier is also a pretty flexible job, meaning you can choose the shift times that suit you best. Allowing you to block in some decent space to do the repairs and renovations on your VW without worrying whether they will be done in time for your next job.
In addition, it’s the kind of work that you can pick up wherever you are in the country. Although there will obviously be more opportunities in more urban city areas. So even if you are travelling around in your VW camper, it is still a viable option.
A word of warning though, ensure that you are working for a reputable agency. One that has your interest as a courier in mind. Otherwise, you could end up putting yourself in some dangerous situations with regard to safety and the law. Something that you need to avoid at all costs.
Deal in parts
If doing up, your VW Camper has made you a bit of an expert in parts, or left you will more than you actually need, why not consider using them to make a bit of money? You can use this to fund a roof repaint, something that is notoriously common on pop tops and other campers. You can even save some additional money if you do it yourself with a fibreglass colour restorer rather than getting a professional respray.
In fact, there is a roaring market for second-hand VW camper parts on the Internet. Especially on online auction sites like eBay. Where you can turn a tidy profit by helping other VW enthusiasts match the parts they need to their specific vehicles.
Of course, the profit on each individual item it’s going to be enough to get the whole restoration done in one go. So it will have to be more of an ongoing project, or a strategy used to top up your budget. Remember too if you choose to do this that car parts can be pretty expensive to post. So ensure you factor this cost into the auction, or state local pick up only on the listing, to avoid getting stung with extra fees.
If the interior of your camper is in a decent condition, then you can use it to make a little money to help fund the rest of the renovation. One way of doing this is to rent it out as campaigning accommodation. Using the fees to add to your restoration budget.
Now, to really make a go of this it’s best if you can site your camper in a local in which camping highly in demand. This may be a music festival, where people will pay good money to stay somewhere that more closely resemble a proper home that rough it, in a tent. Alternatively, it could be somewhere where there are other higher end camping options like glamping yurts around, and you can offer a similar experience for less money. In fact, if you do it in the right season you can make enough for those few weeks to make a significant dent in the total restoration costs for your vehicle.
Of course, that does mean the inside has to be nicely finished as well as spick and span. A good way to save money on this is to do some of the soft furnishings yourself. It’s actually pretty easy to recover some of the benches on some models if they aren’t fitted yourself. To find out more about this, you can read this guide here.
Travel and work campsites
It may be that you are happy to stay in your camper yourself, but either doesn’t feel it’s up to the standard for guest or just don’t want strangers staying in your pride and joy? If this is the case, then it might be a better option to use it to travel around campsites and holiday destinations, picking up casual work as you go.
In particular bar work and restaurant serving can pay well. Especially with tips for good service, and if you haven’t got to pay out for any accommodation because you have your VW to stay in, you will be able to put most of it away to fund the repair and restoration work that you want to get done.
Exterior / Upkeep
If your VW camper looks pretty good on the inside, outside and under the bonnet with just a few more jobs to be done, you may want to consider the financial benefit of offering it out for hire at weddings.
As a VW camper enthusiast, you know how much folks love them and how they have become a symbol of a specific attitude and lifestyle. They also fit in really well with the trend for retro weddings that seems to be going strong at the moment. Also, as you can earn anything up to around $300 a day by providing your van as a wedding car that transports the bride it well worth doing too.
Of course, you will need to factor in a few overheads if you choose to do this. Including the cost of a good inside and outside wash before you pick up the bride. After all, she won’t be too happy if she gets oil or muck on her dress. You’ll also need ribbon for the front and some flowers for this inside, although you can state that the couple provides the latter. Last, of all, you will need to ensure you have something smart to wear as you will be acting as chauffeur for the day. Although a full-on uniform isn’t necessary. Instead, a smart, clean, pressed outfit will do the trick.
Use your restoration skills to do others cash or trade
Lastly, it may be that you have found your love and calling by going through the process of doing up your VW camper. If so, then you can definitely leverage this to your advantage, as you complete the restoration of this one, or even as you move on to the next project.
The way to do this is to consider hiring out your services to others that are doing up their campers. As there are plenty of folks out there that need help with either specific jobs like replacing rusted panels, and damaged undercarriage, or even advice and assistance with the whole thing.
It’s a triple win for too, you because you can charge for this service, and get some additional experience on models you perhaps haven’t worked on. As well as do something you love, that will fund another VW camper restoration project in the future. Meaning you can further dedicate yourself to the VW Camper lifestyle that you love.