Charlotte Harding meets a man who believes that ‘everyone needs at least one van in their life’.
There is no better feeling than getting out on the open road and travelling round the UK, especially if you can do so in your very own campervan.
“I just love the van life,” enthuses Andy Strange, director of Trimspeed, based in Funtington and providing camper conversions and leisure interiors.
Growing up in Bosham, near Chichester, Andy admits he has always liked vintage campers and his first car was actually a VW camper van.
“When I passed my driving test aged about 17 or 18 I became interested in cars,” he says.
“I got a VW T25, but I caught the bug for campers and surfing when myself and five friends got one and went travelling. We went through France, Spain and Portugal before getting a ferry to Morocco, while there we surfed for a couple of months before the money ran out and then we came back.
“But it ignited something in me and my passion grew from there.”
As well as the freedom of just packing up and going wherever the road takes you Andy also loves the ease of a camper.
“If you surf and it is cold you can have a cup of tea or a bacon sandwich,” he says.
“Or if you happen to be stuck by the side of the road, which can happen with a vintage car quite often, you can have a hot drink.
“Because of this I would say to anyone who has a vintage car that knowing basic mechanics really helps.”
In his career Andy first made waves in the marine industry designing interiors for yachts and boats.
Here he says he quickly progressed up the ladder to find himself more office based, after seven or eight years of this he decided he wanted to be more hands on again and so Trimspeed was born last year.
“I still use the interiors and 3D design skills I acquired there in what we do here,” he explains.
One of the services at Trimspeed is the ‘automotive upholstery’, where Andy and his team can customise the full interior
restoring a classic vehicle to its former glory or add any finishing touches to an ongoing project.
“Being close to Goodwood has been good for us,” explains Andy.
“We have done new upholstery for Jags and loads of other classic cars.
“But the VW campers are where my heart lies, I love how it can be great for just throwing your surf gear in the back.”
The options available for classic cars and campers include vinyl or leather upholstery, or lightweight plywood flooring.
Trimspeed not only restores vintage campers but can also convert commercial vans into a home away from home.
“We take out the bulkhead and strip it all back and put it back together again,” explains Andy.
“It means that people can have it the way they want and customise it, adding insulation, more windows and flooring.
“We had a request once for a shower but I had to explain there wasn’t enough room and said there was nowhere for the steam to go.
“We do put waste pipes and fresh water pipes in but a bath or shower are usually out of the question.”
However, when it comes to spraying the bodywork Andy leaves that to VDubs Campers based in Chichester.
A brand new camper, Andy says, can cost between £50,000 to £60,000 whereas a basic refit for a commercial van can start at £6,500 and go up to £15,000 depending on what you want.
So does Andy have a favourite camper?
“I love the bay window ones a VW T2 from 1969 to the 1970s,” he reveals.
“Then in the 80s there was the T25, they just all have a lot of character.
“I want to keep all of the ones we get in here, I get them do them up and the only reason I sell them is because someone makes me an offer, and then the money goes back into the business.
“Ideally though I would love to keep them all.”
For more information, visit www.trimspeed.co.uk or ‘like’ on Facebook www.facebook.com/trimspeed
This feature first appeared in the January edition of etc Magazine