- Name: Quest
- Make: Volkswagen
- Model: T4 Multivan
- Variant: Short Wheelbase
- Year: 1999
Why a VW T4 Multivan?
In September 2020, we decided to try out van life. Our originally planned world trip, which we intended to embark on at that time, couldn’t happen – at least not in the way we had planned. Instead, we spent three weeks in Germany and rented a VW T4 Multivan. With it, we traveled to the Black Forest and explored Germany. It was one of the most beautiful vacations we’ve ever had.
This vacation was not only a much-needed break but also a revelation. We realized that it was possible and conceivable for us to manage in such a small space. Furthermore, the small size had its advantages. We were no larger than a regular car in parking spaces, and due to the low height (under 2 meters), we could fit into almost all underground parking lots. We were also impressed by the robustness of the VW T4. The rented van had already traveled over 500,000 kilometers and still purred like a kitten. After this vacation, Georg conducted extensive research on engines, mileage, and “ailments.” The conclusion: it should be this exact model.
We scoured the internet for offers and eventually found our Quest.
Our Quest with its short wheelbase may not be one of the “big players,” but it’s sufficient. In fact, there’s more possible than meets the eye, as we would later find out.
The T4 Multivan conveniently comes with an integrated bed. Since we didn’t want to convert the van beforehand to save time and money, this was extremely practical. The rear seat of the Multivan is pulled forward into the interior and turns into a large bed. For added sleeping comfort, we also bought a mattress topper.
Apart from that, the Quest doesn’t offer much. No refrigerator, no air conditioning, and no frills. But this also means there’s not much that can break, and what does break can be repaired quite well by ourselves.
Why We Didn’t Convert in Advance
The answer to this question is simple: How long do you plan to travel?
Our journey started with a seven-month sabbatical. Since we both worked full-time, we had little time to extensively convert the van beforehand. But even more importantly was the cost-benefit analysis. The money that would have gone into the conversion would have been missed during the trip. So we made the Quest roadworthy and set off without an elaborate conversion.
A Bit of Conversion…
One of the things we haven’t regretted to this day is the swivel seat. It enlarges the already limited interior space. Moreover, Momo, our dog, could sleep on the front seats for the first three months. This was only possible because we could swivel the passenger seat and push it close to the driver’s seat.
Some conversion was necessary. Water containers, a tool kit, and, of course, our clothes needed storage space. For this, we installed a drawer in the rear of the Quest. Heavy-duty drawers can be expensive, but during our journey, we learned that they aren’t always necessary and practical. Every time we needed our underwear, we had to pull out the entire drawer.
It’s almost ridiculous to call it a kitchen – more like a shelf. This piece of furniture found its place behind the driver’s seat, between the unfolded bed. Here, our cooker stood, and in the four compartments, we stored food and dishes.
The Van Conversion
The Big Conversion
After realizing that seven months wouldn’t be enough, we started planning the conversion. First, we wrote down what absolutely had to go into the van. On 4 square meters, there isn’t much space, but some things can be omitted. We decided to forgo a refrigerator because we realized how uncomplicated life can be without one. A crucial part of the conversion was to make the most of every millimeter. We needed five weeks for the conversion, and in essence, the Quest has remained almost unchanged to this day.
The Small Conversion
The small conversion took three months, significantly longer than the big conversion. This was because we had many other things to do in parallel, and it’s more challenging to integrate existing items afterward. Mainly, during the second conversion, we added a roof (roof terrace and an additional solar panel), the water setup (installation of an underfloor tank in the spare tire wheel well), and a larger side cabinet. We also expanded the rear with a kitchen box, and inside, Nelly’s box found its place.
Are we done now?
The question is whether one ever really finishes. We constantly have new ideas about how to use the space even better or if we can find more space-saving solutions here and there.
But overall, our Quest is exactly how we want it. We have sufficient storage space, our dogs have their designated spots, and most importantly, we don’t have to constantly rearrange things.
Although we have our times when we think: A bigger van would be nice too BUT:
A larger van would also consume more fuel, and fuel prices have increased significantly in recent years and are likely to continue to rise. So we’re glad that our Quest only consumes 7 liters per 100 kilometers.
Another point, as mentioned above, is that a small van can be quite practical. Traveling with a small van in Europe is much more convenient, as you can navigate every road, fit into most parking garages, and ferries and tolls are cheaper.
We love our little Quest and would do everything exactly the same way again.