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February 09 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Cost-effective used Sprinter conversions offered

Lancashire dealership David Fishwick is working with converter Onyx to offer 16-seat minicoaches and accessible minibuses on low-mileage, well-maintained donor vehicles; availability good, it says

Conversion of used Sprinters offers up to 16 seats in cost-effective manner

Dealership David Fishwick has revealed details of a programme that is seeing low-mileage used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans converted into minicoaches and accessible minibuses.

It has identified a source of well-maintained 3,500kg GVW Sprinters that are around two years old. Working with Onyx Conversions, they receive VB semi-air uprated rear suspension and are recertified to 3,950kg GVW. Up to 16 seats are possible.

“We are cherry-picking the best Sprinters for conversion,” says Business Development Manager Matt Eames. “For a 16-seat minicoach, prices start at around £36,000, although there is some variation depending on the base vehicle.”

Typical mileage is 20,000-35,000. Various options are available, including a useable boot with adjustment to leg room. Lift-equipped variants can be built if desired, to a lower capacity.

Once sourced, the Sprinter first visits a Mercedes-Benz dealership to ensure its mechanical fitness and any relevant software updates are applied.

Those Sprinters that are less than three years old come with the outstanding period of the chassis manufacturer’s warranty, although Fishwick is also able to source slightly older base vehicles.

A one-year warranty is provided on the conversion. One 65-plate example recently seen by miniplus that has been specified by the buyer includes microphone connectors for the driver and the courier, a tachograph, 16 seats with three-point belts and a new floor to suit the passenger-carrying application.

Euro 6 base vehicles are available for conversion and an Eberspächer saloon air-conditioning unit can be added at additional cost. Entry to the recently-converted minicoach is via the OEM passenger door, with the sliding side door having been sealed.

“These vehicles fit a budget that is not served by brand-new Sprinters. Buyers benefit from a large degree of choice in the specification. They get a vehicle with a fresh interior, while still seeing a significant saving,” adds Mr Eames.

Availability of suitable donor vans is good, although the dealer is not planning to offer the same cost-effective conversion of heavier Sprinters as sourcing examples in a suitable condition is difficult, he says.

“New Sprinter availability is likely to be limited in 2018 as the factory prepares to switch to the revised model. We believe that a conversion of a low-mileage used van offers a realistic alternative to some buyers.”

Conversions retaining a 3,500kg GVW can be achieved with a reduced seating capacity to suit buyers looking for a minibus that may be driven on a Category B licence under some circumstances.

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