The Knowledge: Do base vans make sense?

Why used buyers aren’t afraid of a base-model van


Top kit to put on base-spec vans, according to BCA’s Duncan Ward

Duncan Ward - BCA's LCV operations Director

Ward suggests that interior ply-lining is one of the best value extras for any van buyer.  He says: “It’s expected by buyers and, importantly, it protects valuable company vehicles from ‘inside-out’ damage that is likely to occur day-to-day. Value-wise, ply-lining might cost £100, but the real benefit is that the van is much more likely to be in a more saleable condition after three or four years’ hard work.”

“Side-loading doors are another key consideration for buyers. These are just as essential for smaller vans as they are for the larger one tonne and 3.5 tonne vehicles.  BCA believes that, at the very least a van should include a single nearside sliding door, but it’s worth considering that two side-loading doors will be particularly appealing for businesses whose drivers are going to spend the bulk of their working day operating in tight, urban conditions.”

“Professional buyers in the remarketing arena prefer a colour scheme that the next user can easily rebrand with new sign writing and graphics.  Distinctive corporate colour liveries have no value to the second user.”

“Many corporate fleets are using vinyl wraps to carry branding and distinctive colours, which can then be professionally removed before sale, leaving the next owner with a blank slate.”

“By not removing racking, the vendor is potentially impacting on the sales value and narrowing the buyer base.  A professional buyer just sees work and delay because the internal kit will have to be removed before retail sale.  If the first operator can reuse the racking kits, then there is a double bonus.”

While secondhand buyers are keen on highly specified models, the fact remains that a large number of those in charge of fleet purchasing go for the van model that makes the most financial sense, and head for the most basic brand new model.

Perhaps because of this, the used LCV market has shown signs recently of having two tiers, with a split emerging between the highly specified and desirable models, and the hard-worked and less cared-for base models.

This gap is only set to continue, with manufacturers such as Ford reporting that the best-selling version of both the Transit and Transit Custom is actually the base model.

There are things you can do to ensure that you get the most for a base van, though, and it need not involve spending huge amounts.

Some of the equipment is preventative, and stops the value from plummeting. Ply lining might only add about £100 to a sale price, but it will stop the inside of a van from getting scratched and dented.

On top of that, a pair of side doors is essential for many, especially when the van is deployed in an urban setting.

BCA’s Duncan Ward adds: “The second user will definitely value ‘retail’ specifications – so vans sporting air-conditioning with a bulkhead, digital radio, metallic paint and alloy wheels will attract a lot of attention from trade buyers and end-users alike. 

Feedback from buyers attending BCA’s LCV Forum underline this, with condition and presentation of LCVs being critical to the buying decision, with mileage, specification, and the ‘pedigree’ of the seller also being important.”



The UK’s biggest selling van, the Ford Transit Custom, shows that the gap in the used market is not likely to go away any time soon, with as many buyers going for Base trim as Limited or Sportvan. Light vans by trim levels
Even the Vauxhall Vivaro, on which most buyers go for the mid-spec Sportive model, has a committed number that go for the base trim. The new VW Crafter bucks this trend slightly, with most buyers heading for mid-spec Trendline.