If Keith Lemon owned a T5 would it look like this? We’re not sure but it’s definitely buff and lots of other things the Urban Dictionary refers to as good

We can’t afford to fanny about, knocking up a fancy intro about this Van because otherwise we’re going to run out of space to cover all the sexy details, so let’s not beat about the bush. We first clocked Will Robert’s face-lifted ‘five at the Stanford Hall VW show and knew that further investigation was necessary. Parked next to Stuart Duncombe’s Black T5.1 (VWt issue 9), this brace of Vans instantly stood out thanks to their careful execution and plenty of funky, fresh details.

” The styling mantra was simple; modernise, make beautiful and reduce the air in the arches “

Among a sea of off-the shelf conversions, it’s easy to end up with something that looks and feels just like all the others. The ground swell in popularity for both T4 and T5 fit-outs has lead to a mass market for products that all do their job very well, but sometimes with a distinct lack of flair and style. That’s where Tidy Transporters (details below this feature) can help.

Based on a farm near Lutterworth, the Tidy Transporters collective have a neat little unit from which to ply their trade. Will Roberts, the 33-year-old head honcho and chilled driving force behind the brand, even greets us with a cold Stella upon arrival, which can only be a good thing, right? Along with young whipper snapper, Rob Hall, and all-round supreme commander, Lewis Baxter, the trio are constantly searching for new ways to improve the accessibility of Transporter modifications.

For Will this VW affliction started around five years ago when a career change meant he made the transformation from humdrum sales into die hard Wolfsburg aficionado. In the pursuit of his Bus building entrepreneurial spirit, there have been no compromises but as Will had been knocking around in Vans doing his Del Boy bit for a number of years, it’s perhaps not that surprising. Having previously owned a ’79 Bay Window for just three weeks, he’d already sussed out that classc ownership wasn’t for him. “All I wanted to do was set fire to that one, it was a total shed,” he said. The ’06 registered 2.5-litre TDi T5 Panel Van you see before you came to light in August 2010 following a prolonged fling with a heavily-modified 210bhp 2.5TDi T4 that was boosted courtesy of a hybrid turbo along with larger PD injectors, uprated intercooler, all the usual ECU wizardry and free-flowing inlet and exhaust upgrades. Having taken that Van realistically as far it could go the challenge was on to build a slightly more modern and civilised version, complete with ample power and every conceivable creature comfort. “The T5 belonged to an extreme sports shop as their delivery van, carrying skateboards and snowboards, so it lead a sheltered life with only 40k on the clock and just a couple of tiny dents when I got it. We just blocked it off with 320grit and some Scotchbrite and it was virtually ready for paint,” Will explains.

“The plan was always to get away and travel in this one and go camping in the Van with my family, but it also needed to look cool, have plenty of grunt and be nicely frugal.” Some £25k, three different interiors and four sets of wheels later, it satisfies every brief.

“One of the first jobs we did was wire it for the split charge system, which lives beneath the Van in a galvanised box, plus the dual subwoofer stereo setup. Doing it all as one heat-shrunk loom involved five days in the cupboard figuring out what went where,” Will tells us. “It was a bit of a nightmare but it’s so neat and tidy and we’ve had no wiring issues at all since.”

Tech info:
2006 T5 VW Transporter

    2.5 TDi 5-pot (BNZ), R Tech Tuning ECU remap, DPF delete, EGR bypass pipe, full 3” exhaust system from turbo back with de-cat pipe, 171bhp 
  • CHASIS:Bilstein B14 height adjustable coilovers, T5 hub modification, new bushes and boots throughout, 10.5 + 11×19-inch OZ MAE Crown Jewel split rims, 235/40 (f) 245/40 x 19-inch Federal tyres, camber shims against back axle for negative camber
    Audi TT seats, passenger swivel base , TT air vents, smoothed and painted dashboard and door cards, 12mm ply floor,  full gloss black and sticker bombed cupboard run, Waeco fridge, SMEV 9222 combi sink /burner, Smart Beds ¾  bed, purple leather
    Chrysler Greystripe paint, T5.1 facelift front end, custom smooth badgeless front grille, Sportline lower front spoiler, T5.1 mirrors, tailgate conversion, Sportline rear lights, Austops pop top, tinted SGI  windows

Next up was busting the plasma cutter out to cut a whooping great big hole in the roof for the Austops pop top to rest upon, before Sikaflex-ing the new SGI sliding windows into place. Naturally all the work was carried out in house, but as luck would have it, next door to Tidy Ts lives PG Bodyworks where the Chrysler Greystripe re-spray was faultlessly prepped and dusted on. From the off the styling mantra for the Van was simple; modernise, make beautiful and reduce the air in the arches. Dropping in inches rather than millimetres means the whole thing is now four inches closer to terra firma courtesy of some top of the line Bilstein B14 height adjustable coilovers. Not content with a C-spanner adjustable -75mm drop though, Will also carried out the popular strut through hub mod to gain the extra lows, reporting no adverse effects upon ARB drop links or CV boots as a result, and it’s still able to maintain satisfactory geometry under load.

Bringing it all together are those controversial OZ MAE Crown Jewel three-piece split rims – like the rest of this Bus they’re a Marmite modification. Originally fitted to Will’s T4 they’re in Mercedes friendly 5×112 PCD, necessitating a set of H&R wheel adapters to bolt them upto the 5×120 hubs, putting the offset way off the mark around ET11. Measuring in at a girth-tastic 10.5 & 11×19-inches means the 235/40 and 245/40 rubber needed a mild stretch to squeeze in against the sliding door. “The MAEs are quite difficult to get hold of nowadays and I searched high and low for this set and sourced them from America in the end,” Will explained. It’s been said before many a time but the right wheels really do make the biggest difference to the look of any vehicle, especially when they’re pink, although Will contests that they’re actually purple in hue.

Alongside the attention-grabbing wheels comes that Sportline spoiler toting T5.1 front end update. Comprising of the upper cross member, lower bumper reinforcement bar, bonnet, colour-coded bumpers, later lights and a custom de-badged grille, there’s around £1100 of VW bits involved in going for the later look. Combined with the modern aero-style mirrors, OEM Sportline rear lights and a switch from double doors to a tailgate, the private plate hides the true vintage of this Van perfectly. The slab-sided back end is arguably the best angle from which to view the Van in our opinion as well. Pop that one-piece tailgate and that’s where the magic really happens. Or in the case of Will’s better half, Coco, it was actually on the Audi TT passenger seat that it all took place, the birth that is. “We got caught short by road works on the way to the hospital and ended up arriving at the front door of the hospital with my wife screaming ‘it’s here, it’s here’ to my utter surprise she wasn’t joking. She was on the front seat when I saw the baby’s head, I ran inside and two doctors came out and delivered the baby there and then,” laughed Will. Luckily the heated leather pews were the perfect environment for 9lb 6oz Mai to enter the world. The swivel bases also proved perfect for her to check out the innovative Ascari wheel table as she opened her eyes for the first time. No doubt she’s equally impressed by the Smart Beds rock ‘n’ roll bed in that plush purple upholstery, the Waeco fridge and the Smev combi sink/stove.

” It’s been said before but the right wheels really do make the biggest difference to a vehicle “

Most of all though it’s the painted dash and door panels that deserve some respect. “The dash board and door cards alone took around 60 hours to smooth down and paint. They had that rippled plastic texture to them. I think of those sixty hours, fifty nine of them were sanding and flatting them down to get them totally smooth,” Will informed us. Even taking into account the 12mm ply flooring, full run of high gloss black cupboards and the purple leather headlining, there’s still remains plenty of details to soak in.

Likelihood is though that the small matter of a cleverly tweaked 2.5-litre TDi PD lump is probably going to take centre stage when you sit at the helm. Following the fitment of PPF Tuning DPF and EGR delete kits the dashboard lit up like a christmas tree. A trip to Hinkley to see to R Tech Performance for a remap, as well as a 3” turbo back, de-cat exhaust system and there’s now 171bhp and 350lb/ft on offer to bless the two-tonne mass with some extra shove, not bad for simple bolt-on tuning, and even better now that Will reports it spins the wheels up in fourth in the wet.

Form and function in one package. We love it.


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Tidy Transporters
01455 556023 / www.tidytransporters.co.uk


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