It’s almost time for me to say goodbye to the bruised and abused Ford Escort, a surprise eighteenth birthday present back in 2003, which has surprised all the doubters in making it this far. If it wasn’t for my own negligence in failing to check the level of oil in the engine back in September then, no doubt, I’d be looking to renew both my tax and insurance at the end of this month. Instead, the old hatchback from 1994 is destined for a scrap yard – well, it never was going to be the ‘ultimate woodworking vehicle‘…
A few weeks ago, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a 1999 Renault Kangoo van with a 1.9lt diesel engine and, having watched many used Citroen Berlingos and similar small vans go for the best part of £2,000 on eBay during the past six-months, I would’ve been mad to have dismissed the chance to purchase this one, with only 68,000 miles on its clock.
It’s not as big as a transit and it is something I intend to look after (!) but, there looks to be plenty of storage space in the back of the van:
If I need any more room, the two rear seats are only held in place with four hex-bolts, which means they’re dead easy to remove, along with the seat belts. In fact, I’ll probably do this before taking my next trip to Interesting Timbers, where, in the past, they’ve supplied me with a couple of ridiculously wide boards – we’re talking over 24in here but, that should be no problem for this van!! 😉 Each seat will either be stored in my workshop or, perhaps in my house… I haven’t photographed this but, the front seats both fold back so that they’re almost flat as well. If it’s simple to do, I could also consider removing the front passenger seat for loading up with wood.
This van is designed with wheelchair access and transportation in mind:
While this does present another money-making/sideline opportunity for survival, it almost put me off buying this van, as it does restrict access in to the back of the van when it’s ‘up’ in its stored position:
One downside is that there’s no side-door but, it looks as though the ramp is only bolted on so, I think I should be able to remove it with ease and store it flat on the bed of the van, in this space:
This model clearly doesn’t have a boot as such so, temporarily storing valuable items while I leave the van briefly could present some issues… I’m currently toying with the idea of fitting a sheet over the two raised areas you can see, right next to the rear wheel arches, inside the van. A sheet of MDF or even chipboard, with timber bracing underneath, could be used to protect the stored ramp and give me a place for concealed storage. If I covered the top face with a non-slip material, that could also work in my favour. Protecting the upholstery is also important to me, in this vehicle, in case I one day decide to sell this vehicle (I don’t intend to ever have to take this one to a scrap yard!!).
Will this prove to be the ultimate woodworking vehicle?
I was also looking at estate cars on eBay yet, some of the decent ones (Ford Focus, etc.) were also sailing high and above the £1,000 mark by the time each auction came to an end. While this is a definite step-up from the average four-wheeler, I fear I may one day “need” to command a larger vehicle. Let’s face it, though; there aren’t many vans around that would be able to take home an entire tree… I think some common sense should be applied, at times – there will always be occasions where the most viable option is to pay the yard or merchant that bit extra, wait around a few days and have them deliver your order, in full lengths and widths, directly to your workshop door!
There is currently only one minor issue with this van and, it’s something I’ve currently struggled to convey over to others… When I bought it, the fuel gauge was on empty with the light glowing a hazardous orange. When I took the van to the nearest reasonably-priced pump, I found that it would only take around 30lt of diesel before the ‘click‘ was telling me it was full… According to the manual though, there’s an extra 20lt in there somewhere that isn’t getting used or recognised. Now, three-hundred miles on £40-worth of diesel isn’t bad going but, having to “fill up” once every two-weeks just in case means this van feels no more efficient than my old Escort – which, by the way, would easily surpass the three-hundred mark before it ran out of unleaded, based on my routine driving habits and patterns of the past six-months.
Whether I get the fuel gauge sorted or not, it is nice to have a vehicle with power steering and central-locking operated by a key fob! 🙂 Having the windows all-round should provide me with some confidence when it comes to manoeuvring and parking this van, which you don’t get with many of the other panel-sided vans; having to rely solely on the use of your ears and the two wing mirrors.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I’m taking my next trip to the timber yard… 😉
Thanks for reading.