With a unique look and inherently custom touch, conversion vans and skoolies are showing up more often in the RVing community. As an RV dealer, we suspect you’ve gotten wind of this new trend and are probably aware of its growing popularity. While some dealership customers are devout owners of conventional RVs and travel trailers, others are making the leap to a custom converted recreational vehicle and never looking back!

Conversion Vans, Skoolie Conversions, and Your Dealership

RV dealers may be wondering, “What is the allure of one of these custom vehicles and how do they differ from one another?” While some of that information is subjective, a few things are already clear to us. These types of units aren’t going anywhere. Luckily, we have the solutions to help you sell them from your lot if you have the opportunity! Let’s dive into all things conversions, their history and find out how RVUSA.com by NetSource Media can help you sell these units with solutions for the RV industry!

What is a Conversion Van?

According to our classifieds site RVUSA.com, “Conversion vans are cargo or passenger vans that have been outfitted for other uses. While those uses can be wide-ranging, most of the conversion vans you’ll find on RVUSA.com are designed for camping. They are often built from the base of a Mercedes Sprinter, a Ram Promaster or a Ford Transit.”

Van conversion customized and used for van life travel.

They’re very similar to commercially produced Class B RVs. The difference is, with a conversion, it is not the manufacturer who outfits the unit for mobile living. A conversion van is converted into a living space by a specialty company or an individual. This makes each conversion an individual. Likely, buyers will not ever come across two identical units. The major allure in selling these units as a dealership, either from trade-in or consignment, is that every unit is unique! 

With RVUSA.com’s new secondary type feature, your dealership can list a van conversion for sale under the new & used conversion van for sale page and the new & used class b for sale page! When searched, the unit will show up under both category search results.

If your dealership’s inventory is imported to us, ask your provider if they support secondary types. 

What is a Bus Conversion?

A bus conversion is a retired commercial bus, like a charter bus, that is gutted and completely transformed into a luxury home on wheels. Converting a bus involves stripping out the interior and replacing it with all the pieces that make up a motorhome. Basically, the build begins with insulation and ends with an opulent RV fit for a musical artist on tour!

Bus conversions are most often done with an old commercial travel bus (think Greyhound). Whether the preference is for full time RV, van, bus or skoolie life or for leisure and travel, a bus conversion is a fun opportunity to hit the road in style. These conversion buses are booming in popularity on social media. If your dealership is considering taking in a bus conversion on trade or consignment, it’s a great unit to use for social media content, too! (Photo credit to Maple Grove RV Sales listing on RVUSA.com)

Use bus conversion listed for sale on RVUSA.com

Listing a bus conversion for sale on RVUSA.com and sharing your dealer page URL on social media can help funnel social traffic to your RVUSA.com inventory page. This allows visitors to see the conversion unit and all the others currently listed for sale on the site.

What is a Skoolie Conversion?

Similar to a bus conversion, a skoolie conversion, or skoolie is a school bus that is converted to a livable vehicle, like a DIY version of a motorhome. While it is roomy and often quite the eclectic look when complete, these are the most popular DIY of the three conversion types. We definitely don’t recommend anyone do things like electrical or plumbing work without proper training or licensing. However, skoolie conversions can be much less expensive if done yourself. (Photo credit to Pops RV listing on RVUSA.com)

Skoolie conversion for sale in Clearwater, FL by Pops RV on RVUSA.com

If the DIYer does know how to do all these things properly, a skoolie is a fun option for recreational travel! Some popular trends for skoolie conversions are design and decor that offer a more rustic, light, “farmhouse” vibe. Pinterest specifically has a lot of content on building and decorating skoolies with this look, and the pins and share are overflowing! The most noted reason for choosing a skoolie conversion over other conversion options, is of course the cost. It allows for life on the road, with less expense to convert it. 

If you’re not as familiar with this type of school bus conversion, check out the new skoolies for sale page on RVUSA.com! This page is dedicated to skoolie conversions, so you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for right here!

Popularity and History of Conversion Vans and Skoolies

Skoolie conversions, bus conversions, and conversion vans have been around for a few decades now. However, only recently has the general population become more interested in the idea of living in one. The first widely popular skoolie conversion was owned by Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Kesey and friend Ken Babbs drove their skoolie, affectionately nicknamed “Furthur,” as part of the counterculture trend. For a more in depth history lesson on this, read up on skoolie and conversion history here. (Photo from Wikipedia, taken by Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11265664)

The original conversion bus, converted by Ken Babbs and Ken Kesey, named "Furthur".

Since the 60’s, van conversions have become less about counterculture and more about living practically. Of course, the sense of freedom that comes with living on the road is still part of the van culture. The two of the main reasons full-time RVers choose skoolie conversions or conversion vans are cost and customizability. If done well, bus conversions can be much cheaper than purchasing a new motorhome. Additionally, they can be customized to the buyer’s style and needs.

While these types of units are not typically utilized for more rugged travel, conversion vans are occasionally converted for boondocking. These rough and tumble conversions allow their owners to explore the great outdoors and adventure outdoors. We reviewed the outdoors and how it is so closely intertwined with the RV industry in a previous blog, Adventure Travel Boost RV Industry for the Long Haul.

The last common reason for choosing a bus conversion is safety. Motorhomes are notorious for being unsafe in crashes and car accidents. School buses, on the other hand, are incredibly safe in accidents. After all, they’re built to get our kids safely to and from school.

Building a Custom Conversion Vehicle

While the used school bus, charter bus, or van might come cheap, re-fitting it for full-time living can cost quite a bit. After purchasing building materials, appliances, generators, and décor, a conversion can range from $20,000 and up. The more work that can be completed by a DIYer, the less expensive it may be.

Buying a Conversion Van, Skoolie Conversion, or Conversion Bus

Purchasing a conversion van or skoolie that is already fully converted and ready for RV living will be more expensive than DIY. However, not everyone has the skills needed to complete this extensive DIY project. Others may not have the desire to do the work themselves, but still want to own one. These are a great reason to scoop one up should you see it for sale or available for consignment!

As a dealership, you may run across one here and there that is ready for its new home. This could be from lack of use, change in circumstances, or because the owners just want a change or upgrade. You’ll often find the average skoolie listed for sale around $40,000-50,000. Close in average sale price is the conversion van, running anywhere from $35,000-$55,000. Both can cost up to $80,000 and above for a more “delux” conversion. That could be a luxury conversion or a more rugged, boondocking-type outfitting. If you’re able to take one of these vehicles in on trade or consignment for a bit less than average price, there is definitely room for profit. Plus, your dealership will likely get additional attention for these units!

For a dealer, it’s understood that there is a camper for almost every budget. Larger units are usually quite expensive. A new or lightly used conversion van from top brands like Winnebago can cost as much as a house. These often price between $100k and $200k new. Large motorhomes can be double that or more. Not every family has that kind of budget available but may still want to try life on the road. A conversion van, bus conversion or skoolie conversion may be the perfect happy medium!

Family van life is as popular as ever!

With new categories just for conversion vans, conversion buses and skoolie conversions, visitors can filter their search for exactly what they’re looking for. Best of all, with the new secondary category feature, you can’t miss the units you’re looking for!

Conversion Vehicles at Your Dealership

Despite their peace sign-doting alternative origin, conversion vans, conversion busses and skoolies have joined the mainstream of RV lifestyle. While this type of unit may not be the norm for a dealership, they could be a fun unit to have on the lot occasionally. After all, supply and demand are what change buying trends of consumers. And these units are certainly in demand right now!

You may have previously made the decision not to sell this type of conversion unit at your dealership. However, accepting a conversion vehicle as a trade in may still be a lucrative decision! RVUSA.com by NetSource Media has created categories just for these units on our classifieds site!

Want to list a conversion van or skoolie for sale?

NetSource Media’s classifieds site, RVUSA.com, gives RV dealers the ability to sell conversion vehicles and classify them as a secondary type. Whether you have a custom conversion, or a manufactured conversion vehicle, RVUSA.com is the only classifieds site catering to all your category needs! And, if your dealership’s inventory is imported to us, ask your provider if they support secondary types!

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