My friend Gareth and I are very similar in very many ways - we like cars, motorbikes, eating, DIY and generally being obnoxious. We also love vans. So when Gareth and his now-wife Aurelie announced the date of their wedding (November ‘21 in rural France), I thought ‘screw it, go big or go home,” which is why I started my hunt for a van as the ultimate wedding present.
But why a van? Last year, Gareth attended a few motorbike track days on his beloved Triumph Daytona 675, where he’d ride to the track, smash the bike around for the day, and then ride back home. Having done this a couple of times myself, trust me when I say this is not the ideal scenario - anyone who’s done a track day will know how easy it is to screw up a corner and low-side a bike. The last thing you want to do after, therefore, is ride it home, which is why a van is a must.
What’s more, Gareth and Aurelie’s wedding was to take place in a chateau in rural France. Getting there in their Jaguar I-Pace would have involved numerous charging stops en route, not to mention championship-winning Tetris skills to get five weeks’ worth of luggage, decorations and a dog over there. So again, the answer is always “van”.
Deciding on a van was a no brainer. Gareth and I have history with Renault Trafics (we travelled Europe in one I bought for £140 when we were around 22), so when I spotted a clean, 204k-mile DCI 100 Trafic SWB for sale on eBay, I snapped it up in the auction for £1270.
Pleased with my purchase, I rode down to the south coast on my Honda CBR650R the following day to collect. With help from the previous owner to lift the CBR into the back, I strapped the bike up and headed home without a glitch. The van pulled well, was comfortable, reasonably quiet, fuel-efficient, and even came with reversing sensors.
The only thing it needed was a set of new tyres, which were taken care of by four of Michelin’s Agilis boots, complete with kerbing protectors, no less. And because it’s good practice to do so, we also changed all the fluids to ensure that the van was wedding and road-trip-ready.
All of that was two months and three thousand miles ago, and I’m pleased to report that the van is still going strong. OK, so the roof leaks and there’s a small whine from the turbo, but Gareth does love a project. So if anything, I’ve done him a favour getting him a (slightly ropey), 204,000-mile Renault Trafic.
What’s more (and rather selfishly), I’ve now got a friend with a van, which makes Gareth the most useful person I know.