Fun sized van- Fun sized adventure

Fun sized van- Fun sized adventure

Posted by Oliver Grogan on

Our journey down the path of making goods for a more 'contemporary generation of van-lifers' has lead us, rather contradictorily to a place where we've learnt to value less. With less ultimately being more, and with less stuff or 'kit' we have learnt that you have less to rely on and that ultimately, that's a pretty good thing. 

'Travel light, with less, and experience more'. It's our slogan and a phrase you'll find littered throughout the website, which is rather contradictory as we're in the business of selling 'kit' to you and into this very sector. 

Whilst we do make a bunch of products for your adventures, our emphasis from day one has been to look for contemporary solutions for these modern work horses, looking at things from a different angle and doing our best to take away rather than add, and in doing so, creating products that enhance an adventure rather than clutter it.

You don't have to look too far within S+S to see the 'less is more' mantra being applied. From our van conversions (launching very soon) to our products and even down to our studio. We are big William Morris fans over here, the below quote reverberates around our minds when dreaming up anything that might eventually have an S+S logo sewn on 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'.

The vans we predominantly use (the Volkswagen T5-T6 platform) would be considered small, perhaps tiny in comparison to the motorhome/ caravan generation of yesteryear however, there have been moments when Tor and I have wished for even less than our minimalist T6. With that in mind we devised a plan to source and create a tiny van and make a range of mini products for a truly stripped back van-life, adventure experience. 

I've heard the phrase thrown around from a fair few motoring journalists which goes along the lines 'if you don't enjoy the occasional day driving a van you're not a true driver; or terminology of a similar nature. I personally am inclined to agree with the statement however, with the amount of time I spend driving about in vans, it seems maybe the reverse applies to us? After deciding what we wanted from our mini van we narrowed the search criteria to the 1.6 Blue-motion Volkswagen Caddy, barn door, single sliding door, plastic bumpered 'trade spec' version. It also needed to be the LH7J 'Pure Grey' colour code. 


It took a lot longer to find the van than originally thought, perhaps the über rare colour hindering our efforts however, since acquiring the little van, Tor and I have been fighting hand over fist over who gets to drive it. For both of us, having been van bound for so long the Caddy scratches a car driving itch that I we didn't realise had been neglected from our lives for so long.

I haven't looked into who designed the geometrics of the VW Caddy and I would be naive to think it wasn't my lack of time in the drivers seat of an actual car over the last few years, but to me it certainly doesn't appear to be too far off perfection. The steering wheel is dainty, small and thin, the shifter throw is short and akin to loading, dare I say it, I can only imagine a german rifle bolt. The pedal box has near perfect spacing and even a bizarre 'gas pedal' style accelerator making double de cluches and heel toeing a absolute necessity on every down shift (still unaware if Tor feels this need). The brakes are savage (in a good sense) and very precise, and the handling, perhaps due to my personal *(read verging on obsessional love affair with Bilstein) make the ride and behaviour of the van a very satisfying experience indeed.

If I may rewind quickly, the first thing we do, or perhaps I insist on whenever we acquire a new vehicle, is give it the Bilstein treatment. It is the single most important thing you can do to your vehicle. Bilstein are OE manufacturers for the majority of the high end suspension components you associate with quality German metal, be it BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc. While it seems a little looney to put their rather expensive B16 coilover kit on our little van, for us it was very necessary, the transformation is certainly more comfort and obviously more handling. Some digging and maths led us, rather bizarrely to the Mercedes Vito and the steel wheels which it adorns. Kind offsets, the right sizes, a subtle OEM look and the magical stud pattern ultimately being the reason to us pressing go on the set (keep an eye out for us supplying these new from the factory). 

A quick call to our good friends at Thule and after doing some more math we reckoned their new 'Touring S Roof Box' shared the correct proportions and size to suit the Caddy and work with our new Caddy Roof bar system.

We have developed a new awning rail extrusion which sits snugly under the bars accepting the new awnings along with a host of other products designed with the smaller roofline of car derived vans. Rather excitingly we are also developing a miniature version of our conversion for the Caddy which we are excited to share, available for both normal and Maxi variants. 

The eventual goal is for us to get the entire fleet of S+S vehicles correctly insured and camper ready so you too can borrow them, getting a feel for what our conversions, along with how traveling light with less can be a liberating way to get about. Be that in the Caddy, the T6 or the Crafter which will also be arriving soon. 

Feel free to get in touch for Caddy questions, specs and prices along with anything else you've seen in the blog post. 






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