Good things come to he who waits, and never more so than in the case of a low mileage, one owner Van.
The saying goes, ‘if you’re looking for love, stop looking’. Or words to that effect. A romantic notion, not short on lashings of twee, but to some extent, most probably true. However, the world of automotivia and the philosophy that accompanies it represents the polar opposite. To find your dream ride, all you can do is look.
When Nathan Johnson decided that working for somebody else was no longer for him, he went out and founded Wagen Worx (www.wagenworx.co.uk) based deep in cider country, Somerset. He began by providing, amongst other things, a specialist mobile re-mapping service. With over 20 years experience in the motor trade, and a qualification as an ATA VW master technician locked in his toolbox, the move proved itself to be a successful one.
In the process of setting up shop, he sold his highly customised T5 that we featured in the June 2011 issue of our sister mag, Camper&Bus. Add this to his T4 C&B also featured in 2008 and, if this was a game of football, Nathan would be taking home the match ball. However, the sale left a rather large hole in the family garage that was screaming to be filled with something VW shaped. So, with the business up and running, Nathan decided the time was right to park another Van in his garage. Being a man in the know, he knew exactly what he was looking for. I suppose his advert would read something like this: “Wanted: T4 Multivan, must like weekends away camping and also transporting the kids around when needed. Must be reliable and with not too many miles on the clock.
Definitely a non-smoker, but should be geared up for adventure.”
Fortunately, Nathan is a patient guy and was clearly prepared to keep looking until the right one came along. In the end, his search lasted almost a year and included three viewings, none of which met his standards. Either they’d covered too many miles or the condition was simply too poor. Eventually though, it happened. Late one evening, an internet search produced a perfect match. With a high spec and low miles, Nathan had dialled the number almost without thinking. The seller was only too pleased to inform Nathan that his ’phone hadn’t stopped ringing since placing the advert, but Nathan got ‘the feeling’ and acted upon it. With someone due to view the Van the very next day, he put his money where his heart was and paid a deposit, sight unseen! Nathan: “The guy sounded spot on, and I was prepared to take the risk.” Now ask yourself, would you have done the same?
The handing over of a deposit without seeing the Van was simply the first stage in this courtship. Next up, Nathan had to find his way from Somerset to Leeds to view his purchase, his return journey reliant on the fact that the Van was as good as he believed it to be. “Two days later I was on a train to Leeds with a one-way ticket and my pockets stuffed full of cash,” he told us. “At Leeds train station, while waiting for the owner to pick me up, a homeless guy asked me if I had a spare £1. I had to say no!” The pangs of guilt quickly washed away as the owner arrived in the T4. “I knew there and then it was for me.”
Having arrived in Leeds courtesy of one of Virgin’s finest, Nathan made the return trip to the west country in this 2003 T4 Multivan, resplendent in its Colorado Red paintwork and with 102bhp under the 2.5 TDi’s bonnet. With a full VW dealer service history backing up the 70,000 miles on the odometer, and the keys having been handed over by the one and only previous owner, it’s safe to say this is as close as you can get to the certainty of a new vehicle without actually buying one. With the extra additions of factory-fitted front and rear air con, seven seats and a full width-bed, you can imagine the smile on Nathan’s face as he tackled the four-hour return drive home.
No prizes for guessing what the first thing to happen to the Van after that was. Well, actually the very first thing was a cam belt change and service, but a Wagen Worx re-map followed the insurance policy of those jobs. Nathan tells us he has managed to find an extra 36 horsepower using some electrical wizardry and the tears caused by the scream of an F1 V10 engine at full bore. I imagine, anyway. For those who struggle with mental arithmetic, the 2.5 TDi now boasts a respectable 138bhp. Actually, screw that, that’s a cliché. This beast now boasts an unruly 138bhp. Much better.
The interior was in top condition, but having seen Nathan’s previous creations it would be folly to think it would escape some form of customisation. The seats were removed and placed in the capable hands of Mike at Transcal, Bristol (www.transcal.co.uk). Having already completed the awesome trim work on both of Nathan’s previous Campers, it was never in doubt who would get this gig. Mike stripped the fronts and increased the bolster and padding so they are more similar to those found in a T5, before covering them in two tone black and grey leather. All door panels and the rear seats also received the same style of re-trim.
The paintwork required a little touch up here and there in order to meet Nathan’s exacting standards. And again, he contacted someone who has already done work for him in the past. This time, it was Lee at Victory Paintworks (previously known as Envious). Completing the look, a set of 18-inch wheels, more familiar with rolling a VW Eos around, were bolted up and framed beautifully, thanks to 60mm lowered rear springs and shortened Gaz front shocks.
A full custom made stainless steel exhaust remains on the shopping list, whilst those wheels might be well advised to keep a look out over their collective shoulders as Nathan’s eye is already wandering.
The family camping trips and school runs are made all the more enjoyable thanks to all six cabin speakers having received an upgrade to Kenwood, delivering the sounds from a Kenwood DVD player and a 17-inch drop-down television screen.
“I’ve added some better headlights with a wiring upgrade kit from Extreme Vans to make her really shine at night,” explains Nathan. “I’ve also installed a split charger 240v hook up with a leisure battery under the passenger front seat, which also has a swivel base. Oh, and red dice valve caps.” With devotion like that, it’s clear to see why Nathan ends by saying, “I don’t think I will ever sell her.” I mean after spending so long looking for the right Van, would you?
The T4 Multivan style seal:
Vehicle: 2003 T4 Multivan
Engine: 2.5 TDi, re-mapped to 138bhp by Wagen Worx, EGR delete and blanking plate
Wheels: VW Eos18-inch alloys with Continental Contiseal tyres and red dice valve caps!
Suspension: -60mm lowered springs and Gaz shortened shocks
Body mods: VW Colorado Red paint, ‘angel eye’ headlights, satin black grille surround, front fogs, Crystal rear light clusters
Camping Interior: Re-trimmed Multivan interior by Transcal
Cab area: Swivel seat bases, short shift kit, custom made shifter extension by John (Special K)
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