Practical Motorhome's experts give advice on what to look for and how much to pay if you're buying used 1999 to 2006 Timberland panel van conversions

During the reign of the X/44 Ducato, Timberland Motorhomes panel van conversions (PVCs) were built at two sites in the heart of Lincolnshire. Timberland designs and builds its own PVCs as well as stocking new and pre-owned motorcaravans for sale, made by other motorhome manufacturers. 

When the first model rolled off the production line our reviewer Gentleman Jack Bancroft considered that the Timberland Freedom campervan was a game-changer – one that would steal sales from established converters such as Auto-Sleepers.  

Hand-built cabinetwork and sumptuous soft furnishings, together with a comprehensive equipment inventory and practical layouts, ensured that he was right. 

All models had a full-width convertible rear washroom with vanity unit, cassette toilet and shower. The kitchen was split either side of the aisle and the lounge usually consisted of twin swivelling cab seats, a nearside face-forward travel seat and an offside inward-facing sofa. Timberland would alter standard layouts to suit individuals’ needs and wishes. Thus they were a popular choice for disabled motorcaravanners. 

One option was to move the fridge from just behind the cab passenger seat to the main run of kitchen cupboards thereby allowing single beds, and/or an additional nearside inward-facing seat. Others opted to leave the former fridge location free of furniture to allow storage of wheelchair ramps, or the inclusion of a folding table. 

It’s the details that impress: two-way master light switches located within easy reach inside the side door and adjacent to the bed head, a washroom big enough to use as a changing room or to have a carer assisting with ablutions, a microwave at a sensible height and the first in its class to offer a fully integrated control panel for all residential systems. 

It was available in any Fiat colour, and alloy wheels, a colour-coded awning and a Cat 1 immobiliser/alarm were all standard. Starlight models rode on the medium-wheelbase variant and featured a transverse double bed. Long-wheelbase Voyagers offered a longitudinal double bed. Odyssey (MWB) and Voyager (LWB) added roof and cab air-con, leather upholstery, plus a rear view camera and monitor.  

What to look out for 

Pre-facelift Fiat Ducato models had a tendency to lose the fifth gear, but it is not a difficult or expensive repair as it can all be done ‘in-situ’. Some electrically operated cab window motors retired early and early models required a modification to drain water appropriately from the windscreen scuttle and not allow it to pour into the gearbox and over electricals. Facelift models have a circular Fiat badge with a blue insert within the front grille; earlier models had a badge of five chrome vertical bars above the grille.  

When you buy a 1999-2006 Timberland van conversion always insist on a full habitation service. Many were built with compressor (12V/230V-only) fridges, which will require a brace of top-tackle leisure batteries for ‘off-grid’ weekends. Budget for starting afresh by buying good quality new fridges. Use a ladder and check for peeling paint on the roof – it was a common problem with these Fiat Ducatos.

Likes and dislikes  

So, to summarise, what do we like – and dislike – most about the 1999-2006 Timberland panel van conversions?

 Likes:

  • Manoeuvrable package
  • Comfortable lounge
  • Generously sized beds
  • Coloured coachwork  


Dislikes:

  • Limited over-the-shoulder views on the nearside
  • No automatic transmission option on right-hand-drive models


Buying essentials

The Timberland Starlight/Odyssey and Freedom/Voyager were built on Fiat Ducato X/44 vans, in Lincolnshire, from 1999–2006. These high-top five-door panel van conversions are short enough to fit on most driveways. The Starlight/Odyssey is 5.005m (16’ 5”) long. Freedom and Voyager campers are 5.505m (18’ 1”) long.

Which would we choose? Taking it all into consideration we’d go for a facelift model for improved reliability and the JTD engine. The Freedom model is the most popular and spacious, though Starlight works well as an only vehicle. You’ll need to like leather to go for the luxury variants – we like it to sit on but not to sleep on.

What should you look to pay? Early examples cost from £15,000 in a private sale. From a dealer, we've seen a late (2005) LWB Freedom model described as in excellent condition with 88,000 recorded miles offered for a reasonable £19,995 with 36-month warranty (Oak Tree Motorhomes, Nottingham).

Alternatively, you could try a Timberland Endeavour on Renault Master or IH Tio on Fiat Ducato. 

Of course, make sure you check any motorhome inside and outside before parting with your cash, using our feature on how to check used motorhomes for sale. And we've guides to help give you the confidence to buy motorhomes at auction and how to buy a motorhome at a show. And if you're wondering why used motorhomes seem to command quite high prices, read our Campernomics blog to find out why all motorhomes make an excellent investment, since they just don't depreciate in value in the same way as cars! 

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