Our Mercedes Sprinter Van Conversion : This is Where it Starts

sprinter van conversion

Introducing a new section, “Sprinter Van,” all about our journey taking a base level passenger Sprinter van and building it into the perfect road trip vehicle for our family.  You should see the cool build outs people are doing on Pinterest! Truth be told, it’s already pretty awesome. I love it and drive it everywhere. It’s surprisingly easy to drive and park. My husband will be contributing to this section because I won’t be installing hitches, or seats, or doing stuff with wiring. None of that would end well.

Here we go, hope you come along for the ride.

Special needs travel, even to local destinations, has always been a challenge for our family. We’ve had larger vehicles to accommodate equipment, but not being able to move around and properly reposition V or take care of her if she has breathing issues while in transit has always been a concern. After V became critically ill on a road trip in the middle of nowhere (of course) and some of her equipment failed, the necessity of finding a more accommodating vehicle became a priority.

Enter the Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van.

{hear that?  it’s the sound of angels singing…}

sprinter van conversion

We originally saw the Mercedes Sprinter a few years back. After finishing a FULL and INVOLVED wardrobe change in the Suburban we noticed a vehicle parked nearby that had dark tinted windows, a high enough roof to accommodate standing up, and obviously enough room to carry all gear necessary for our family. Plus it was a diesel, promising better gas mileage.

The MB Sprinter has totally changed our ability to get out and do things with V. Problems like repositioning her during the trip…gone. Running medical equipment while in transit…gone. Cramped wardrobe updates…gone!!! That huge turning radius in our Dodge Ram and Chevy Suburban…gone. Traveling in snow, extreme cold or extreme heat…problem solved.

The Mercedes 4×4 Sprinter Van can do it all.

MB Sprinter van conversion

So many configurations, so little time.

The 4×4 MB Sprinter Van has a seemingly endless list of custom configurations, so knowing where to start can be overwhelming to say the least. The configurations are further complicated by the fact that some of the options are only in option packages – nobody wants to pay for things they don’t need. We called a local dealer to help navigate these details and found out that the 4×4 Sprinter Vans are pretty hard to come by – it would take about a year to get one. Not wanting to wait that long, we started a national search for a van that ticked as many of the boxes as possible. Certainly we could find one in the Northwest or at least the west coast, right? Wrong. We finally found one at the Roanoke Mercedes Benz dealer in Virginia. Yep, 2,700 miles away.

sprinter van conversion - front seats

The main features of our Sprinter Van are:

  • High roof so we can walk around (or dance, as the case may be).
  • 4×4 high and low gearing.
  • All the nanny options, like lane departure, side wind assist, blind spot monitoring, navigation.
  • High idle pre-set.
  • Separate automatic heating and cooling to keep the van comfortable when the engine is not running.
  • Automatic slide out step for the sliding door (a must have).
  • Removable seating for 11 (or is it 12????).
  • Additional Heavy duty AC for the passenger section of the van.
  • Tinted windows, roof slide anchors.
  • Full sliding door so back seats are easier to access.
  • Zeon and LED headlights.
  • Extra battery with a bracket for an additional alternator.

What our Mercedes Sprinter Van did not come with:

  • Towing package (we added an after-market trailer hitch).
  • Automatic closing sliding door (I wish we had this!).
  • Adjustable idle preset.

With most of our options satisfied, we decided to go ahead with the purchase and had the van shipped from Virginia to Washington State. The process was pretty easy and Roanoke Mercedes Benz walked us through the process without a hitch (ha ha).

When our van arrived we knew it was going to be a game changer for our family. Not only was this a beautiful rig, but had everything we needed to allow V to have a great and safe trip.

Mercedes Sprinter van conversion

Also, from a dad’s perspective, so far the MB Sprinter has been great to work on.I appreciate that it is NOT the typical plush, foofoo, Mercedes, but an industrial vehicle made to take abuse and to be maintained without taking it to the dealer for everything. The oil change in this vehicle is 10 times easier than on my Suburban and Dodge Ram, and everything underneath is easy to get to.

You will also love how this van handles – it’s easier to park than our Suburban! We’ve had it on several full day trips, running some 6,000 feet altitude passes as well as the beach. It’s not just for road trips though, it’s our primary vehicle for V. It’s very stable for its height, has good pickup and travels comfortably. The only thing you really have to watch is the height; no parking garages for us, and you have to pay attention for occasional low trees.

MB sprinter van conversion
This is the standard passenger van. We took out the middle row of seats, and will be adding new seating and a table for starters.

So often special needs equipment provides only a limited amount of use; situations change or that piece of equipment no longer fits. The Mercedes Sprinter Van on the other hand is our most valuable piece of equipment for V, and it’s only going to get better as we customize the inside to fit her needs. We’ve had the van for several months now, and it’s been everything we’d hoped for. Ask V about her van and you’ll get a huge smile.

Bottom line: if you have the special needs for a van like this, finding a way to make it happen will open up all sorts of new possibilities for your family.

This is Phase 1. Follow along on our Mercedes Sprinter Van conversion, as we add custom seating, a 3,000 watt power inverter to help support V’s equipment, a table and towing hitch just for starters.


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