Mike Le Caplain

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The motorhome land speed record has been broken, by a British conversion specialist, in adverse conditions – and Practical Motorhome was there

Wrexham-based micro-camper conversion specialist, Creation Campers, has wrestled the World Motorhome Land Speed record from former holder, Goldschmitt, in a tense day of high-speed driving at Elvington Airfield, near York.

Creation broke the record by over 4mph despite making the attempt on a day of extremely high winds brought to the UK by the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo.

The LSR contender was built by Creation Campers co-owner, Simon Robins, over a period of 12 months, fitting in the necessary work around the demands for motorhome conversions from its burgeoning customer base. The Fiat Doblo base vehicle came to Simon as a former high-mileage minicab with a blown diesel engine. As Creation Campers converts a considerable number of Doblos each year, this seemed an obvious base to work from.

Deliberately opting to keep the project all Fiat based, Simon sourced his engine from another Fiat – a Coupé 20v Turbo – whose five-cylinder engine had already undergone considerable performance modifications.

Getting the bigger engine to fit under the Doblo’s bonnet took a great deal of head-scratching. As Simon himself readily admitted: "At one point, I really didn’t think the engine was going to fit. But we got there in the end."

Getting the engine into position required an array of unique engine mounts, which Simon fabricated himself in-house from metal. With the engine now fitted, and the old diesel engine’s fly-by-wire throttle replaced with a straightforward mechanical linkage, Simon could turn his attentions to turning up the power wick.

To the GT28 turbo and an upgraded intercooler the Fiat Coupé’s former owner had already fitted, Simon had the engine management system remapped courtesy of Bristol-based FC Performance. With the motorhome officially dyno-tested at over 337bhp and 306lb ft of torque, Simon added a race clutch, the donor Coupé’s five-speed gearbox and suspension (stiffened and lowered by 60mm), an almost totally flat underfloor and racing brake pads and discs.

As much a high-profile marketing tool for Creation Campers’ growing business as a LSR weapon, the resultant Fiat Doblo remains a fully functional micro-camper, with a spacious lounge area, small kitchen, fitted loo and 230v electrics. There’s even a special rooflining inlaid with LED ‘stars’ to lift the interior still further.

"We wanted to offer an alternative to foreign imports and prove that British engineering is still alive and well," Simon told Practical Motorhome. "We’ve deliberately kept all the mechanics Fiat and left it looking as standard as possible. We might have got more grip and downforce if we’d fitted big wings and spoilers, but that would have defeated the whole point of the exercise.

"We wanted to show that you can build something special that doesn’t have to cost millions of pounds."

Finding a suitable venue for the LSR attempt turned out to be a major headache for Creation’s co-owner (and Simon’s wife) Gemma, but after issuing an SOS on Facebook, a solution came to light. "Trevor from trackday specialists, Straightliners Limited, offered us a place on a trackday at Elvington Airfield near York," said Gemma. "He’s been brilliant about the whole thing."

With strict rules demanding a series of runs in both directions to arrive at an average, Simon’s first full-bore run delivered a promising 142.4mph. And despite the vicious and relentless headwind, too-short run-ups to the main racing drag – and, in one heart-stopping moment, a 120mph close encounter with a startled bird – Simon ended up with a confirmed average of 141.3mph – well in excess of the previous 138mph record.

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