Converting a T1N passenger van - pros and cons?


Active member
Hi Everyone,
I just joined the forum, and I'm searching for a Sprinter to convert to a camper. I've narrowed my search to 1st-gen, 140" WB, high roof models. I've been thinking cargo or crew van (I'd like to have at least one 2-seat bench), but there's a 2003 passenger van for sale not too far from me. The price is high: $20,000, but maybe there are some advantages that would make it worth it. What do you all think?

Here are the initial concerns that come to mind:
1. How much headroom does the rear fan duct take up?
2. Is it easy enough to remove the entire rear A/C and ductwork?
3. Alternately, is it possible to rig the rear fan to run without the ignition on?
4. Can any of the fixed windows be replaced with ones that open?

Thanks in advance!


New member
I paid $20k for my used 02 158" long-tall with 67k on the odometer. But that was in 2004.

Price seems very, very high for your T1N.

Can I at least assume it has never been driven on salted winter roads? MB paint was poor for the T1N. Rust can be a problem.


Active member
Can I at least assume it has never been driven on salted winter roads? MB paint was poor for the T1N. Rust can be a problem.
Good to know. It's in Los Angeles, so I'd assume it's never seen snow/salt. It's at 103k mi, so I agree, seems overpriced.

Anyone have experience modifying/removing the rear HVAC on a T1N passenger van?

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
I have no experience.

There have been discussions here about removing the rear air conditioning unit. Once the Freon gas is properly evacuated it should be basic mechanics as to removal of the components.

After removal you will probably want to install a roof vent of some sort.

I just bought a 2006 passenger model that will be used for sleeping and cargo hauling at different times.

I'm in the early stages. Some things I've found so far.

Having the OEM seat mounts is a plus.

The OEM back seats are VERY heavy and awkward to move around to store.

The wood (composite) floor under the factory rear mats is not smooth like it is in cargo models. The texture is more like the rough side of Masonite. That matters to me because I planned to just remove the OEM mats and use what I thought would be the smooth flooring for cargo.

I suspect that to convert a passenger model to a camper you will be removing a bit of plastic trim to make way for your interior components.

My 2006 cargo model had a rear headliner added with hardboard/fabric panels on the walls. It did not have all the plastic trim pieces around the windows. That made adding little tie offs and such easier because the metal is exposed. I'm considering removing the plastic trim from my passenger model in the rear area only. That will make access to the metal easier.

Sorry I can't provide more information at this time.



I'm currently mid-conversion on a 2004 158" passenger van. We want to be able to use ours as a passenger van at times, which has made the conversion more difficult. The biggest pro I see, is all there surfaces are in a finished place to start. Meaning you can work slowly and have a van that "looks" finished. You will end up getting good at removing and reinstalling the wall panels and headliner. This could be considered a pro or a con... I think the biggest con is the number of windows. It can be difficult to work around the windows. The windows are hard to insulate and don't open for fresh air. If I could remove some window I would. I just finished an overhead storage bin yesterday and tried my awning for the first time! I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.

That price seems high. Last year I bought our 2004 158" with 83k miles for $15k.

Good luck! -Nick


Active member
Thanks for the responses. I think i'll stay away from this particular van unless the seller is willing to come down by several thousand dollars. But I think I'll keep looking at the passenger vans.

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