Sprinter Airstream Westfalia vans are the upgraded James Cook vans sold in Europe. They are a Mercedes built chassis with a Westfalia conversion. Airstream imported them from Germany, adding comforts they felt Americans would appreciate. 250 of these vans were imported between 2005 and 2007. Ours is a 2005 van and was the 214th to be imported.
There are only three paint jobs -- blue, silver and gray. All of the interiors are a gray/blue - gold/yellow fabric with neutral walls and cabinets. They come complete with galleys, heads, sleeping for four and seat belts for five. Their miles per gallon run in the low 20s.
|Thistle camp, Cascades, WA|
In Europe these vans have won the best small camping van award for 12 years running.
We had been looking for a van but were not satisfied with the American conversions, despite the high price we were willing to pay given the van would not be just for traveling but also our home. The interiors looked like someone's living room, but not ours. Fake wood cabinets, undesirable upholstery, carpeting were all ugly to us, and not suitable for the life style we imagined. The designs and materials were simply not to our taste.
Our next step was to seek out an independent conversion company to do the conversion based on our design. That's where we were headed when we found the Sprinter Westfalia. It was love at first sight. Those Germans definitely know good design. We stepped inside and were stunned by the design details, layout, simplicity, and for a small van, the open, airy feeling, and functionality to boot.
At 18.5 feet long we will be parking in regular spaces, making traveling easier and stealth camping possible. The width is 6 feet, so that too is "normal". The real break from standard is the height, which is 11 feet. At first glance this van is a bit shocking, but the proportions settle in and begin to look normal in short order.
This van will be our home and the next big step in our years and years of downsizing. We've never lived large, but this is the smallest we have attempted. Careful planning is going into what we will pack because, like our home, we do not want to trip over extra unused stuff.
Solar panels to accommodate off the grid camping in remote locations will be added. We will also add an updated navigational, sound and backup camera system. We'll need a bike rack. We just need to throw in some pots and pans and a few clothes and we're on our way.
"There are seven days in the week and someday isn't one of them."