Introducing the quickest camper conversion and surf van, Boris!
Boris is a 1999 LWB Hyundai Grace H100 2.5 turbo with bags of personality and a rebuilt engine. He inherited his name from the previous owner, and because he obviously loved the van so much, we decided not to change it. I bought him back in March with the goal to travel around Europe with my fiancée and our dog, and that’s exactly what we did. We’ve just got home from an epic 2 month road-trip around Europe. So far, he’s traveled around England, Wales, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland in him.
Pretty much everything about this van is custom, from the bluey purple paintwork to the genuine cowhide seats. The inside is kitted out with a small kitchen and a sofa bed when we bought it (you can see what it used to look like here) but we’ve made a few minor tweaks inside to make it feel like home. It’s surprising how much time it takes to wire in some new lights, change a worktop and do a bit of painting though. We spent so long getting Boris ready to hit the road and we ended up rushing it a bit in the end.
Windows and Curtains
The backdoor is a tailgate meaning we get stunning views from our blackout privacy windows when we park up. I always forget that if it’s lighter inside the van than it is outside, people can see in! We have black out and thermal double lined grey curtains throughout which were made especially for our van.
The walls are padded with faux white leather and thermal insulated with building grade insulation for extra warmth. Amazingly, Boris has working heating and air con – which is pretty rare for a van as old as this!
We’ve got a 100W solar panel mounted on the roof. We charge our laptops, phones, GoPro and use our lights (either our 4 ceiling spotlights or just our 5m of LED fairy lights), and we never run out of electricity! Even if the battery did get low, we can always charge our leisure batteries off the van battery and vice-versa.
We’ve got plugs in the front and the back, so we can charge our devices when we’re driving or lying in bed. There’s also the option to wire up shore power for when staying at a campsite for electricity.
In the back we have a futon pull out double sofa bed with hard-wearing water resistant cover. We always keep the bed pulled out, this way we have more storage under the frame and we don’t have to worry about making the bed every night, we can just jump straight in!
We sleep with a warm duvet, along with some throws and a bedspread for cooler nights. When we were sleeping in the mountains and it was below freezing, we used our sleeping bags which zip together (cute!) and they’re are suitable for temperatures as low as -25 degrees celsius.
Storage and Space
Boris is smaller than most vans but that’s why I fell in love with him. Parking isn’t too much of an issue and nobody really bothers us because we go under the radar. It’s just short enough to get into carparks without any hassle (unless you’re in Paris!), and things like ferry crossings and tolls are cheaper, too.
We’re clever with our use of space and have storage hammocks, hanging hooks, Velcro nets, and a rack behind the seats with pockets. Underneath the bed we can fit 4 cabin sized suitcases (or 2 when being used as a sofa). There’s enough room for a toilet, 2 mountain bikes and it easily fits a couple of surfboards.
Our lil Kitchen
To the right-hand side of the bed we’ve got a 6ft grey wood effect kitchen worktop with a small stainless steel sink with an electric tap and a fixed gas hob. Underneath we’ve got a storage hammock for our food, our water tank and plumbing, and our gas. Above we’ve got a little built-in kitchen cupboard for our bowls, cutlery etc.
We did have a fridge but we replaced it for an electric cool box, which was miles better until it broke. We’ve got 2x powder fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide alarm and fire alarm – and I’m so glad we did because we’ve had to use it during our trip, which was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
If you’re going on a long road trip, it’s crucial to have a decent sound-system. Boris has 4 built in speakers in the ceiling with Bluetooth connectivity. There’s the option to hook up a subwoofer, too. We didn’t do this because of space but it’s awesome to know we can put one in, if we want to.
When we’re watching movies in the van we can connected the audio up to the ceiling mounted speakers in the back, which acts as surround sound (amazing for watching a horror movies!). A couple of times we’ve driven somewhere just to watch the sunset then cuddle up in the van with a takeaway and Netflix, it beats staying in!
When we were in Belgium S accidentally snapped the handle off the passenger door. It was stressful at the time but it’s funny when we look back on it. We had peace-of-mind knowing that nobody could just open the door to get into our van 😂 It’s only £12 to replace on eBay, so it’s not the end of the world.
In that same week, the wing-mirror snapped off, too. We held it together with a bunch of masking tape and superglue, and somehow it stayed put for the entirety of our 2 month road-trip.
Other people probably think he’s a piece of shit, but I’m bias. He’s given us so many amazing adventures that I just love him (despite him costing me a small fortune, thanks to being in the garage!). The best bit about Boris: Freedom to cook dinner and sleep anywhere you can drive.