If you’ve tried to buy a second-hand van any time in the last 12 months, you might have noticed that the popularity of these humble commercial vehicles has travelled from the tradesman’s entrance right around to the front door.
The word on the street is that ‘pre-loved’ vans have become highly sought-after for two principal reasons: firstly, that the Covid-induced spike in on-line shopping has created a thriving jobs market for delivery drivers, and secondly that the ‘staycation’ trend has led to a surge in DIY camper conversions.
I experienced the population’s growing affection for the previously much-mocked ‘white van’ when I set-out in search of one of Ford Transit-sized proportions last August. The buyer’s market that had been awash with sensibly-priced offerings only a few months earlier had turned into an unseemly scramble for vans ‘at any price’ that made the worst excesses of the Harrods sale seem genteel.
With only hours remaining before I was due to undertake an ‘essential’ road trip to Greece (and after almost as many hours of searching) I finally found a van on ‘Gumtree’ that hadn’t been snapped-up. It was 70 miles away and being sold by a builder who had owned it for an entire 10 days. Just 15 years old and with a mere 179,000 miles on the clock, all of its dashboard warning lights glowing brightly, a broken engine mount and a price tag of £2,100 – what could possibly go wrong?
In the event, and contrary to what I had been led to expect after reading many ‘expert’ internet reviews, my plain white Vauxhall Vivaro proved to be more than up to the job, lugging me and a full ‘payload’ (as we haulage types call it) 2,500 miles to Corfu and back without incident.