Benjamin DaviesSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Benjamin Davies
Our Gentleman Jack Bancroft is an irredeemable motorcaravaning enthusiast. His family have been camping, caravanning and motorcaravanning since 1928. Jack and his wife Flora are now on their tenth motorhome, a 2003 Auto-Sleeper Pollensa on a Ford Transit base. They have toured extensively at home and abroad, including a period of full-timing. Here, Jack answers your motorcaravanning queries:
Q: We have been considering buying a motorhome suitable for short breaks; we would probably use it as the everyday wagon and sell the car. We need it to be comfortable, not too cramped or long, with a proper toilet and an engine that is both economical and reliable.
We have bought a variety of motorhome magazines for several months now and it seems to be an absolute minefield out there! Please could you advise us?
We are in our 60s and will use it to travel mainly around Scotland. We are based in the north of the country, above Inverness, and so the nearest outlets are in Perth or near Edinburgh.
We are ex-caravanners, and have also driven Ford Transit vans in the past. We are thinking of spending £20,000-£30,000 with as many extras as possible.
Jenny and Ken Bridges, Scotland
A: Don’t worry, you are not alone: many people find the sheer number of ’vans on offer utterly bewildering.
Focus is what we need here, so let’s try to tease out your requirements. The ’van will have to be compact and manoeuvrable enough to use as a car and to tour Scotland’s narrow back roads. It’s a beautiful country but in order to see it at its best you’ll need to get off the beaten track (well off the main roads anyway!), so nothing too wide.
Also, Scotland isn’t southern Spain so a decent space heater, a good standard of insulation and double-glazed windows is a must. A proper separate washroom with a flush toilet is essential, too.
You mention that you will be selling your car, so a panel van conversion with a sliding side door makes sense. Also, you may want to transport passengers, so at least one rear travel seat with a safety belt would be handy.
You are pensioners and are unlikely to be high earners, so you’ll want something that is going to be fairly economical on fuel, cheap to insure and easy to repair. In addition, you are likely to be buying this out of your savings, so (I guess) the intention is to keep it for a while, which makes the likely availability of spares in years to come very important.
You also mentioned Ford Transits so I think you may favour a ’van built on this base. There is one ’van which is a perfect fit: a 2000-2009 Auto-Sleeper Duetto on the Ford Transit. There are plenty to chose from within your budget on the pre-owned market.
Before parting with your dosh, insist that the vendor make the beds up. Then kick off your shoes and lie on the beds to make sure that they are wide/long enough and that you find them comfy.
The Ford Transit is not perfect (nothing is), but it is a reliable workhorse (I know because I’ve got one!). Spares are easy to find and repairs straightforward. Finally, do not buy anything without a meaningful test drive.
As you live in the north of Scotland you will have to travel south to find dealers. Have you considered buying privately? You should also look at www.practicalmotorhome.com/forsale. I hope this helps; happy hunting.