Meet Mark Nickolls, father of 10 year old twins, Queenstown resident and mountain biking guru. In June 2019 Mark took the plunge and bought an already kitted out Mercedes van, it was the start of a very very long build journey. We’ve intercepted Mark halfway through his rebuild, he’s done the exterior, sealed Valda up from the weather. Now he’s about midway through the interior. This story is a long term two parter; once Mark has the interior up to where he wants it we’ll do part two.
Mark; “I’m 100% keen on getting away from Queenstown and doing camping and riding missions. I was searching for a Merc or Transit high top van to do something from scratch, but when I saw it on Trademe. The look was old school and so different I was sold on the T1 410D.
I flew to Tauranga and drove her home to the mountains. It was all ready self contained and was decked out in 2002 but poorly and the layout wasn’t going to work. It even had an inside shower, water and air heater with the dodgy orange gas lines. Some things are worth saving, Valda is a lifestyle and a long term project she’s only got a 120k on the clock and in the east block countries they do over a million miles
You’ve mentioned on Insty you knew the colour scheme before meeting Valda, did/do you have a really clear vision of every part of her?
Only if I knew how many hours I had spend on the Outside Van website! Yes I definitely knew layout, materials and pretty much using a modern colour on a van would work. Nardo Grey is an Audi colour and black works with everything!
I was lucky that the owner before me had spent good coin refreshing the abs brakes, exhaust, radiator and all rubber hoses. My mechanic told me Valda is tight and tidy as mechanically.
I could see where she needed money to get her brown rot removed in the floor and around the old roof pan and that was always the first job to tick off. We did a full panel and paint and new metal where it was needed.
Everything that was bolted on I stripped off cleaned twenty times and either powder-coated or painted in black, Mercedes badges and rear tyre cover were wrapped in black vinyl. I replaced every door, window rubber seal to keep mother nature out too. I’ve kept a lot of the old fittings like kitchen sink (now Powder-coated black) grey water tank and fittings.
The Cruz roof rack system was an important part of the build. I knew what I wanted up top, 600w Solar panels and a 55L solar pipe shower, 1.8x 1.5m roof deck and 40” light bar with 12000 lumens.
What is the plan; is Valda going to be your get to the trails escape vehicle, or is it also about family getaways? How are you fitting out the interior to accommodate those needs?
It’s definitely for either solo missions or with of my twins. Quality time missions and camping trips. Valda just a two seater and the living has a kitchen unit with sink and bench, full width bench seat large enough for one of my kids to sleep on. It houses the 65L Dometic slide out fridge, porta potty, diesel heater and 70L water tank. With a full size bed for dad suspended over the garage area which is bike and gear storage.
Valda Adventure Van has its own Instagram account where the whole build process is nicely documented. Check it out HERE
How good are the photos! Well Jake Hood took all the hero shots, check out his instagram account HERE