Pre birth of a camper - No laughing!


Adventurer Wannabe
Ok So I took the plunge yesterday and bought a fixer upper! A 4x4 7.5T GVW Vario

I sold my better half on the idea of a wonderful all-road camper and then arrived home with this....



My intent is to take the crap off the back, lengthen the wheelbase to 4.25m, "Trim" the crew cab back to a Single (suggestions on how best to approach this- greatly appreciated) and then get Ormocar or Woelcke to do an over the cab box..

What do you think?

BTW - Better half is now somewhat disillusioned

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2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I would not go from Crew to Single cab as that inside space is a wonderful thing....from anytime you randomly might want to bring someone, to easy access storage to who knows what.

same on increasing the wheelbase, maybe see what kind of interested space saving design you can come up with to save on the build cost & time.

The best way to get your better half back on board is to get the build done and out there. You can always figure out later what would be nice to have on version #2 but at least you would be camping and learning for yourself.

Too often we see mega builds that are never followed by trip reports...makes one wonder if the build became too much.


White Turtle Adventures & Photography
Congrats, myself I would leave it as a crew cab as you can always use the space and if you have passengers then you have a place for them to sit.


Adventurer Wannabe
I hear what you're saying on the Crewcab (and getting it done quick(ish)).
The intent is to fit seatbelts in the box seating area and anyway - the front part of the cab already seats three.

The 1m that the extra row of seats (BTW seating upto 4 more - and I don't have that many friends!) takes up would make a big difference to box size.



Sound like you did what I did :)

I told my wife I was going to build a camper and showed her photos like this


And this is what got dropped of at my house a few weeks later;


Needless to say she was not very impressed :)

Three years later on she has more than forgiven me. Tell her not to worry, you will fix it up it will just take a bit longer.


Well done selling the whole camper idea; although that bit could be the easiest. She looks at Unicats while you keep quiet, then says it would be nice to have a camper that goes anywhere...

Why on earth did you buy a DoKa when you didn't need one? The'yre so rare that they command higher prices than their single cabin equivalents.
I'm with everyone else on this one. For having given up on finding a DoKa in the size and power category I resolved to make one. I wouldn't do it again unless you paid good money. I promise you that you have so many other things to sort out on a camper that you don't want to add car bodywork complications to your woes. Don't cut it; there'll be wiring, cab mounts to move, ill-fitting parts, stuff to suspend in place while you tack it together. And at the end of the day you will have a cut and shut whose welds you won't have treated inside.
Cos pressed steel bodywork has cavities that you can't get a brush to, and spraying blindly is not ideal.
You could keep the Doka and cut out the whole back to include it into your living space; the rear seats pivot to form part of the lounge, or actually have the lounge in the cab, then you can shut it off as a spare room. I don't know whether you have kids that have flown, or are the before kids stage. Either way something will crop up to make you glad to have four or more seats.
With the DoKa demand it's a shame to cut it up.

Rather than start hacking apart the cab, get the body off, give it a general clean up. A load of T-cut on the body and steam wash the chassis and interior.
Once the body's off people can see the potential more easily, at that point resell it at a profit and get a single cab or a MAN 8.150.
There are lots of young adventurous families out there who baulk at the work required to strip an existing body off and want to be able to start the build directly on a nice clean base.

As already mentioned, don't think of it as your only build. Get this one rolling, learn from your mistakes and build a better one later.


You could cut the back of the cab for camper access and add four captains chairs. Then build the camper box over the rear area of the cab as a bunk or extra storage space depending on your needs. I have two kids and they love sleeping in the bunk and I would not want them sitting in front on a long trip for my sanity.


Adventurer Wannabe
There are almost no single cab versions available in Ireland but the national electricity supply board use Vario crew cabs extensively. So availability is the opposite here. The reason I'm considering cutting it down is that it shortens the rear from 3.8m to 2.9m for the box and the crew portion cannot be realistically incorporated into the box as it will be norrower and more importantly - you can't stand up in it. So not ideal for incorporation into the living area.

I've spoken to a couple of the German box builders and they are ok with the approach since they cut the back out anyway for some of their conversions and integrate with the box. This will be the same but I'll just be throwing more away!

I hope to talk with these guys face to face at the exhibition in

Your point on the DoKa being rare elsewhere is an interesting point though..... Anyone want to swap????


Tea pot tester
Good luck!

I found this one already converted on, with an excess of checkerplate, but its a bit pricey perhaps! (No connection)

Can you change the rear duellies for singles, and what tyre sizes would fit?


  • 7.5ton Merc camper van.JPG
    7.5ton Merc camper van.JPG
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Adventurer Wannabe
Initial drawings

Here's where I am in terms of planning the layout. These are a long way from finished, but I'm getting more comfortable with them. Comments welcomed.

I also just did a quick budget calculation and I think I'll have to put the kids up on Red heads fetch I premium I hear!

EDIT: Pictures updated with shortened overhang
RHS interior.jpg
LHS image.jpg
RHS image.jpg
LHS interior.jpg

Layout assumes
- Wheelbase stays at 3700mm
- EDIT: No chassis extension :
- Crew Cab is "decrewed"
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Tail-End Charlie
I don't see a measurement for total rear overhang (rear wheel to back of box). In some countries, I believe, the rear overhang cannot be more than 60% (?) of the wheelbase.

EDIT: Also, no total height.


Adventurer Wannabe
Diamensions added to drawing above
- Total height is 3350mm not counting hatches. Intention is to stay under 3400mm total
- Total overhang is to end of box is 2500mm against wheelbase of 3700mm. 60% = 2220mm.

I read in the Mercedes bodybuilder document that the chassis extension limit was 60% but misintrepreted this to mean just the chassis. Back to drawing board. Hmmm.

EDIT: Drawings now updated in post above with 60% max overhang - Thanks DWH. The wonders of Visio!.

Some other questions
1) I'm intending to fit a US RV type toilet with a tank and 3 inch drop pipe instead of a cassette toilet
- Any suggestions on where to source these in Europe and
- Do people have experience of actually using them (emptying them) across Europe?
2) Steps down from door – Any suggestions?
3) Water and heating system – I want to run from Diesel and electric, but the units like the Truma Combi 6D are ~€2,400. Any other suggestions?
4) I was also looking at the Saphir vario Aircon unit. Anyone with experience of this and do you think it has enough capacity for the van?
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