The Knowledge: Converting sales

Given that converted vehicles such as tippers, dropsides or Lutons have a much more specific market than standard panel vans, it is worth giving special thought to how you dispose of them. Some users will wring every last job out of such a vehicle, but others will want to be remarketing them on the same life cycle as panel vans.


Duncan Ward - BCA's LCV operations DirectorDuncan Ward of BCA on how to get the most for your converted stock

It is the cleaner the better when it comes to selling a tipper or a dropside. However, these vehicles are by definition likely to have a harder life than a florist’s van – these vehicles are typically used on a daily basis in the construction industry, where urgency to complete projects is the key driver. Clean examples that have had their load areas hosed out on a daily basis are very rare and exceptional prices will be achieved.”

“Condition is important, particularly in the load area, which tends to get the most damage. A used LCV is the next owner’s working tool and a calling card for their business so a good level of presentation and condition is expected. Significant damage to bodywork, such as dented panels or doors, is a real turn-off because it means delay and expense before that van can be retailed. Even worse is damage inside the cabin, because that means seats or the dashboard might need replacing, and that is expensive.”

“Lutons are particularly desirable if fitted with a tail-lift; ones without are difficult to sell. However, condition is vital and any obvious damage can seriously dent resale values – GRP (glass reinforced plastic) bodies are difficult to repair and tend to require patching, which can look unsightly.  Sellers should also ensure the tail-lift – if fitted – is regularly serviced and any relevant paperwork is supplied at the time of sale.

“Flat beds or dropsides mounted with light cranes are very rare and create a lot of interest when offered.  Buyers will want to see service history for both the vehicle and the crane.

“Roadside recovery vehicles are very scarce and can generate a lot of excitement when they are offered.  However, payload and condition are critical because they tend to come to the market after a hard-working life. A winch is a critical option to be added.”

“Top-quality branded racking usually enhances the value as it will meet legislative standards and is well received by a second user. However, custom made timber racking is less appealing and detracts from value because the buyer is faced with removing and disposing of it.”

There is no sweet spot in terms of age for selling a converted vehicle – each age band, whether nearly new, five years old or even older, will have its own market.

As Duncan Ward of auction specialist BCA points out, the rarity factor means that there will be strong interest at any age.

However, while age might not matter, the time of year that you come to sell might well play a more important role. Ken Brown, the LCV editor at Cap HPI says: “Usually, the demand for panel vans is consistently high all year round, but that doesn’t hold true for chassis-derived vehicles.”

In particular, he points out that there is a fall in demand for crewcab tippers and dropsides as winter approaches. “Favoured by ground-workers, builders and gardening firms, in both the new and used markets, as the work dries up so does demand and used market prices fall,” he says.

But while demand drops in one area of the market, it can rise in another: “Similarly, we often see the demand for larger vans in the run-up to Christmas,” says Brown. “Many parcel-delivery firms take on temporary contract owner drivers to meet increased demand.

“If you happen to be a leasing company with a large batch of crewcab tippers to remarket in October, you might have a problem on your hands but if you have a batch of Lutons or box vans they may well sell for more than was forecast.”



According to BCA, just 15% of the used LCVs that come through their auctions is converted stock, with the rest made up by standard panel vans and car-derived vans. Estimates suggest that as much of 80-90% of vans undergo some form of conversion before they head off to their first job, but as that includes those with some form of easily removed racking in the loading bay, it isn’t a true reflection.

In any case, as Duncan Ward of BCA points out, anything that is different from the standard panel van is bound to attract a lot of interest.