Your guide to buying a secondhand Auto-Trail V-Line Custom High-Top (2013-2018) - what to pay and which problems to look out for.

V-Line was not the first high-top conversion from Auto-Trail: in the 1990s, it built Stag on Ford Transit, and Badger and Fox on Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer. The latter two were available with an overcab Luton high-top (considered revolutionary in its day).

When V-Line was but a twinkle in Auto-Trail's eye, another revolutionary high-top was produced. The firm was, and still is, a dab hand at stylish GRP mouldings.

Although described as a GRP high-top, it is actually a GRP roof-cap and overcab moulding that fits on top of the standard Ducato high-top, the steel roof of which has been removed and a special strengthening frame inserted.

The result of this is more headroom than in a standard high-top Ducato, in turn facilitating a rare double floor. These, together with a sophisticated choice of fixtures and fittings, were the catalysts for this high-top thinking that it was a luxury coachbuilt.

We're not using the usual term for this type of 'van (panel van conversion), because Auto-Trail believed they were not vans at all, so preferred the term 'compact leisure vehicle'.

The V-Line range kicked off in late 2013 with two models: the 600, which had a forward lounge, and the 610, with the lounge in the rear. The 610 had the larger lounge; the 600 boasted more kitchen worktop and a slightly larger washroom. In both, the lounge converted to two longitudinal single beds or an overall double.

The following year, the 620 appeared, Auto-Trail's first high-top with a fixed transverse rear double bed.

Two swivelling cab seats joined the inward-facing offside settee, although a cost option was to replace the latter with a half-dinette offering two face-forward dedicated travel seats.

V-Lines soon began to offer a replacement for the barn doors - a moulded GRP panel, with full-width window and boot-style access, enabling buyers to opt for a full U-shaped lounge.

Auto-Trail developed a lower-priced range in 2016, using the high-top Ducato. To differentiate between the two, the custom high-tops were renamed as V-Line Sport and the new range kicked off as V-Line SE.

The custom high-top was expensive to produce and to fit, and in 2018, the decision was made to pull the V-Line Sport, but (crucially) to continue to offer the moulded rear panel as part of a Sports Pack - available across the SE range with the exception of the 540.

ESSENTIALS

  • V-Line and V-Line Sport on Fiat Ducato LWB panel van
  • Built by Auto-Trail in Europarc, Grimsby, North Lincolnshire from 2013-2018
  • Custom GRP roof-cap on high-top steel panel van
  • Overall length 5.99m (19' 8")

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Base vehicle

All V-Lines were built on the Fiat Ducato with a top weight of 3500kg, so there are no driving licence implications. Fiat's two-pedal drive, Comfort-Matic, features a robotised manual box, rather than a torque converter. Early models are Euro 5, later ones Euro 6; neither require AdBlue, but they do need a full service history and replacement of engine drive belts every five years or so.

Conversion

It's reasonable to assume custom-roof V-Lines were bought mainly by couples who were experienced motorcaravanners - expect it to be immaculate.

Early models had an electric compressor fridge, so those going off-grid may want to budget for more leisure battery capacity.

The acrylic side windows latched a little way up the glazing - check for cracks.

LIKES

  • Fluid custom roof-cap
  • Great spec; double floor
  • Coachbuilt interior vibe
  • Stylish hob/sink/worktop

DISLIKES

  • Check bed lengths - some of the brochure figures weren't accurate at first

OUR PICK

Both 610 and 620 make best use of the space, although the 600 has the superior washroom and the option of added travel seats. 130bhp motor is good, 180bhp is a pocket rocket, but 150bhp is our favourite, striking the perfect balance of power and economy.

PRICE

Custom high-top V-Lines were built to a high standard not to a price, so they are a highly desirable pre-owned purchase - and the dealers know this. Negotiate hard but be aware you're unlikely to get a huge discount. Both these low-mileage examples have the rear moulded panel and boot access. Simpsons has a 2014 600 for £36,995, while Chelston is offering a 2015 model for £39,995. Both have option packs included and an upgrade to the 130bhp engine.

OR YOU COULD TRY...

V-Line SE with the standard Ducato high-top. IH offered the one-piece rear panel with boot access on several Fiat Ducato, Renault Master and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter PVCs. Vantage also offered this alternative to rear doors, but only on Ducato models.

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