We have got the Van!

Here’s a pic of the old girl, shes a 1994 M Reg Nissan Serena.Image

It had to be Japanese in the end, they are cheap and reliable plus we already own 2 Hondas. Mid engine rear wheel drive 2.0L petrol drift machine 🙂 ! She was originally a 7 seater but as you can see we have already taken the seats out so we can get the custom build chair bed in…

2013-06-01 14.33.41

We came across the Serena by chance at a local garage who had it on the forecourt but it was actually owned by the garage owners friend who is a mechanic and has owned the vehicle for 15 years. It didn’t have an MOT at the time so we took it for a test drive around the industrial park, the dog even came along! we found the drive amusing and the van just seem to have something about it that made us smile. It was a bargain so we decided there and then to have it! it would be a great little first conversion project for us.

Its got a full service history and has been waxoiled yearly, so the rust should be minimal. Its had a new engine which has done about 70k now. We bought it with a full 12months MOT which meant the windscreen (had a crack) was replaced it had a new sidelight lens new exhaust back box, new brake pads, new tyres all round and some other bits I can’t recall. For her age she is in really good nick. Behind the rear seats there is over 6 feet of space so great for a bed space!

I’d already gone a bit crazy and bought all sorts of bits for it online before we even had it:

  • 110ah Leisure battery
  • split charge relay kit (charges leisure battery from main via alternator)
  • 500w inverter
  • new number plates
  • tow mounted bike rack
  • JVC CD player with Aux in
  • stereo iso leads
  • some really compact portable gas stoves
  • service pdf manuals off ebay (been great so far)

plus more but I can’t remember right now, its all over the kitchen much to the delight of Sheri my better half 🙂

Van jobs to do:

  • finish ripping the interior panels out.
  • fix the drivers door as it wont open from the outside!
  • fit the new stereo
  • attend to the surface rust on the panel beneath windscreen, will need scraping, sanding back and painting.
  • + other bits I can’t remember right now.
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15 thoughts on “We have got the Van!

  1. Hello! your van looks great! thinking about buying Serena aswel and convert it to an campervan. When you look back would you rather buy an T4 or something else? Keep up the good work!

    Jiri

    • Hello Jiri,

      Thanks I’m glad you like it. Well the price of a T4 is considerably more to begin with and it would need windows etc installing which would cost quite a bit too. Unless you go for the caravelle to begin with but again thats even more expensive.
      Using a T4 would be much easier though in terms of installing the units because you can literally buy kits of pre fabricated furniture in flat pack ready to install in the van.

      For my budget I’m still glad I went with the Serena though to be honest. It was really cheap and its easy to drive, it feels more like a car than a van once you get used to the high driving position.

      If I had much more money to spend and plenty of storage space then I probably would have got a caravelle T4.

      Thanks
      Rich

    • Hi Lee,
      Thanks for the kind comments its great to know people are getting use out of the blog.
      If you are ever in yorkshire give me a shout and you can have a look.
      Good luck with your project.
      Rich

  2. Awesome blog ! I just bought a ’97 Serena. Really stoked with it. Planning to whip out the back seats and do some ply lining to suit my furniture business. So your blog is great help 🙂 …now if i can just figure out how to remove the seats 🙂
    Pete in NZ

    • Hi Pete, glad you like the blog. I still use my Serena as a daily driver to the train station.
      The seats are really easy to remove you just need a socket set.
      have fun.

  3. Thanks for your reply brungle.
    I seem to be drawing a blank with the seat removal. Did you remove the floor runners, the slider looks like it will stay in the floor and stick up otherwise.
    IMGP7607
    cheers
    Pete

    • Hi Pete,
      It looks like your seats are different to mine. I didn’t have long runners like that on my serena. The seats had plates on the bases that just bolted into the floor any sliding etc was as part of the seat base not long runners like yours.
      I removed all the original flooring in mine and use wooden batons and ply board to make it a flat surface for carpeting again.
      Thanks
      Rich

  4. Hi mate

    You have done a fantastic job on your conversion. I have just started to do a basic conversion of my Serena. How did you secure your wooden batons?
    The other thing I would like to know is when you paid to have the back heater removed was it part of the cooling system? and in hindsight could you have removed it yourself?

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your kind comments.
      We secured the batons using no nails type adhesive. It did take a while as the floor is various depths.. I’d considering just using thicker ply board next time to be honest.
      With regards to the rear heater I’m still not sure if it was part of the cooling system to be honest I never asked as they were closing up when I collected it so just paid and left.
      Good luck with your conversion. Send me some pics when you are done. I still use the Serena as my daily drive to the train station.
      Cheers

  5. Hi Rich
    Thanks for your reply I think I might build around the heater, I have a couple of ideas so it will be trial and error I will take some pics as I progress.
    I have already used your idea about the plastic bubble foil on the windows but find the Velcro comes off the van in very hot weather
    .

    • Yeh I must admit the sticky tape on the back of the velcro isn’t great. We used sucker cups more recently.
      We still aren’t happy with the window blinds though and intend to come up with something else before our next trip.

  6. HI mate- have been trawling over your fantastic blog as I am considering a similar build – i have a question about the layout in the rear – the original rear seats, i would need to keep a seat for the little one just behind the driver or passenger. I see they fold up but is there a way it can remain and live in harmony with some units behind and space for the bed to fold out.

    i am planning a tent on the side for some living space

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=29casyc&s=8#.Va-Vv5NViko

    Must study your blog a bit more before i fully decide to go for it –

    Thanks!

    • His Danny thanks for your kind comments. Sorry for delayed response I’ve started a new job and it’s been a bit mental this week!
      Are you referring to the first row of seats? I think there are a few variations on this in the Serena so it depends which model you have. Some use a different base plate. IIRC on mine it was quite large and centrally mounted. I even discovered some had swivel bases but this may be the JDM only.
      I’m not sure how it would work if you left a seat in as there wouldn’t be space for a bed behind it unless you are vertically challenged ;). Or do you intend on removing the rear seat when it’s not a camper?
      maybe a sketch of what you mean might help me understand.
      Cheers
      Rich

      • thanks for that – i have been giving it some thought and I think I would be more inclined to convert to a kind of Day van – I am in Ireland and to get it recognised as a camper you need 1.8m internal height – so it would require a pop-top. I would also want it as a daily driver, at least for the summer months – so it needs to be practical – for a daily commute – that said, they seem reliable enough – have you still got yours?

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