'Vera the van' is a full member of our family now. She has been a star taking us on regular trips to go on SUP adventures in the Lakes. Younger family have taken her for nights away to climb further afield.
A brilliant Easter weekend on Arran was perfect for our first longer outing. Everything is working well and battery life has been great for several days of wild camping with no worries. The 'penthouse suite' is a favourite of my daughter to get the sea views from her bed.
We are looking forward to many years of adventures.
I can highly recommend Christien for your van conversion his attention to detail is second to none.
Dear Christien and Kerry,
I do hope that you are both well.
Forgive my tardiness in coming back to you with this testimonial. We are of course now over a year on from buying the van and as delighted with it now as we were when excitedly driving away for the first time. But at least my sloth means this is not one of those very odd internet 5 star ratings given by somebody who has not yet even unwrapped the package.
As you know I initially contacted you after we had hired a van for the first time wondering if, after many happy years in a tent and with retirement beckoning, a campervan might provide more adventures, and more warmth! On the first evening in the hired van I had been certain that the machine was just too big, but by day 2 my fears were receding and we went on to enjoy a very pleasant late October week in Scotland, which we could not have contemplated in a tent. “Hiring before buying” was I am sure a very good idea. The nice chap who did the hiring was very helpful in explaining how he had bought a reputable well priced low mileage van, before converting it with local help. He kindly gave us ballpark figures and discussed the things that he would repeat or do differently on a second attempt. We also now had some thoughts as to what was important to us and what might not be.
Having enjoyed to week away I was given the go-ahead to research a possible purchase, but only as a possibility. I did the usual hours in the middle of the night on the internet thinking about the various options of :- buying new.…. too expensive, buying a converted van….. but who from, sourcing a decent second-hand van and trying to organise a conversion locally….. ok but who to go to. As well as the internet I made a few phone calls and listened to often very good advice and got something of a handle of what we should be looking for and what it might all cost. The difficulty was the range of possibilities and not knowing whether we would get a good job. Clearly there are lots and lots of people doing conversions, but it is not easy to know who are good and who are not.
Local for us is South Cumbria, and you were nearly in Scotland, but I could not be but impressed by the previous testimonials on your website. Having been in a small business for over 40 years, I still believe that a good small local enterprise can and very often does give something much more than the big boys. And so it proved.
As we ventured north, my lovely wife who, quite rightly, does not like rushing big financial decisions made it absolutely clear that we had no timescale, proper due diligence was still required, and that this was very much a look and learn exercise…. a fact finding mission only! Having been censored for previous impetuosity I vowed to be on best behaviour….
Pleased by my navigation skills (aided by the satnav) we arrived to a warm welcome. Notwithstanding that the completed van that we were shown was more expensive than our tentative budget, less than 10 minutes into our inspection and Christien’s explanations of his devotion to detail and quality, which was readily self evident, much to my surprise I was dug in the ribs and told to get on and try to buy it there and then. The deal was done in the most amicable terms. Christien readily agreed to sort out some extras that we wanted being the installation of both a tow bar for a bike rack and a rail for an awning. What was immediately clear to both of us was the quality of the build and materials and that this van was so much better put together than that which we had hired. Christien insisted we went for a spin, and advised that I should assure myself of the vans provenance with VW direct, before parting with any cash.
The deposit that he suggested was very reasonable and from the outset I had absolutely no doubts as to his and Kerry’s bona fides. Much useful advice was readily given throughout the period from the agreement to purchase and handover. Christien kindly bought for us ramps, an electrical hook up and the screen covers which he had advised. The van was still within its 3 year VW warranty and he was assiduous in ensuring that the Carlisle dealership put right all minor defects before we completed.
Rather than return home immediately, and notwithstanding that it was November, we decided to have our first night in the van just across the border. The Taylor Made screen cover was more than able to cope with the sub zero temperatures and the van’s wonderful heater had to be turned down because it was so efficient!
Since when we have been continually delighted with our purchase and enjoyed many trips away (mostly 1 or 2 nights in the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales) which have been an absolute boom whilst we have been the primary carers for an ancient parent.
The only evident rattle proved to be my misplaced Marmite pot!
It was agreed before purchase that we would only proceed if we were happy to take the van to the supermarket car park which, because of its small wheel base, we both are. It is no more difficult to drive than the car which it has replaced. There is a camaraderie of other VW owners, whose most useful advice has been to beware of the wing mirrors of similar sized vans. Those of the lorries pass by above, and those of most cars below…
This has and continues to be one of the most fun purchases that we have ever made. The Rib bed is very comfortable and we are also pleased, that despite pensioner status, to still be able to sleep in the pop-up roof in the summer reliving memories of being under canvas. We sleep better in the van than in most hotels, and not just because of the cooled, but by that time empty, white wine bottle.
We are delighted that we put our trust in Christien and Kerry and cannot recommend them or his workmanship more highly.
We suspect that our neighbour may well already be beating his way to your door.
Jim and Alison Going
Just a few words to thank you for your excellent conversion on my T5. I will definitely recommend you to anyone looking for a conversion. Christien converted my van in three stages for me, which helped me spread the cost. He also did a covering letter and photos for the DVLA.
All in all a brilliant job Christien.
SMC campers were recommended by our neighbour in Cumbria and also via a family member whose work colleagues in Newcastle had SMC conversions, all of whom are engineers with real eye for detail and technical quality. We were really lucky that Christien had a completed van advertised just as we were looking. We had already looked at a variety of secondhand conversions but there seemed to be lots of questions regarding build quality/safety, especially when considering we were upgrading to accommodate our baby and toddler.
The difference was immediately apparent when looking at Christien's van the detail of finish, even down to the smallest trim was excellent, then we talked through and were shown the fit out including RIB Bed, REIMO roof, WEBASTO heater etc, everything was excellent quality even the flooring, carpet and cupboard material. Christien had a detailed knowledge of everything he fitted and its safety credentials ensuring that it all worked together. There is a high tech electrical charging and battery system which works really well and gas tested hob. It was obvious Christien had put a lot of thought into the layout of cupboards, fridge, hob, gas bottle, safety sensors etc.
I was nervous about the lost off floor space compared to our 20yr old van where the seats were fitted further back, however we knew that this is the modern layout and were convinced by the whole package provided by SMC including conversion and mechanical warranties and knew this would be van to last us many year and therefore worth the investment. Christian added a towbar, parking sensors and a bespoke stowage system for our child’s cab bed and on collection provided a very thorough introduction to the van, all certificates and manuals and made it clear that he is available to help with queries later if needed.
We have now had several trips out in our van and we keep commenting how pleased we are with it each time we use it, the layout despite my reservations is excellent, so much storage and having a 'boot' space means the internal floor space is just as big as our previous van in reality as we don't have lots of extra things cluttering the floor with no home. We are now just looking forward to the warmer weather and being able to take 'Pingu' out for lots of adventures with our young family. We would definitely recommend SMC campers.
Having purchased a 2008 VW T5 we set about looking for the best deal in converting it to our specification. Christien gave us an excellent service, was most helpful and knowledgeable and during the conversion kept us updated. on each step, The campervan is now a very comfortable holiday home with the wow factor and we would have no hesitation in recommending Christien Heslop.
Maureen & Adrian Gilmour
Just thought i would drop you a line to let you know how pleased we are with the the campervan conversion you did for us. Had been wanting to purchase one of these for years and now having bought one realise what we have been missing.
The finish and design are superb and comparing them with what is on the market believe you are providing one of the best available. Combined with your ethics and business philosophy of customer comes first we do not think we could have selected a better initiation into the campervan and motorhome way of life. Very many thanks from a very satisfied customer.