The Tribute name was first used by Trigano on a range of Fiat Ducato-based, high-top panel van conversions built in Italy and imported into the UK.
In the summer of 2010, Auto-Trail (also part of the global Trigano Group) caused a major stir among fellow manufacturers and potential customers alike. The surprise (for once not leaked!) was a range of Tribute-badged Luton overcab coachbuilts based on the third-generation (Mk 6) front-wheel-drive Ford Transit chassis-cab, and built at the company’s state-of-the-art Europarc factory.
‘Excellence through design’ was the strapline on the launch adverts and brochures. While that might have been just PR folk’s fluff and puff, there was no doubting the relevance of the range.
The 2007 banking crisis and the subsequent recession had taken many casualties among motorhome converters, a severe pruning of output being the only way most companies could survive. This had two serious repercussions for buyers. First, there were even fewer models based on alternatives to the Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer. Second, the withdrawal of easily arranged low-interest loan facilities meant that many buyers were forced to look at less expensive models.
Enter Tribby coachbuilts, focusing heavily on value and the first new range on Ford’s finest for yonks.
The range sold very well until it was culled just after the introduction of the current generation of Transit, when production of the Tribute coachbuilts switched (temporarily) to the Ducato. There were two series of Transit-based Tribute coachbuilts, the 600 and 700. All of the models within each series had exactly the same overall length and underpinnings. The range kicked off with the 620 and 625 on the medium-wheelbase chassis. The 620 has a forward double Pullman dinette with a long, inward-facing settee opposite, while the 625 provides the Brit favourite of a rear U-shaped lounge.
The long-wheelbase 700 series offered the 720 with a forward half-dinette and short inward-facing sofa, midships washroom and kitchen, plus a rear lounge consisting of an additional two inward-facing settees. In total the 720 offered six sleeping berths. The 725G was similar, but with a permanent, high-level transverse double bed above a garage replacing the rear lounge.
Then 2012 brought a major facelift. Externally there were new graphics and a colour-coded grille, while internal changes included a new wood finish to the (previously) gloss-white locker doors, and a number of spec upgrades. A new Sport Pack was offered for the first time, and this included a wind-out awning, rear spoiler, TV aerial, 230V electric blown-air heating, scatter cushions, heated and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, removable carpets and fascia trim. Significantly, two new low-line overcab models were added. These were the T-615 – similar to the 620 but with twin inward-facing settees in the front lounge – and the T-715 with its low-level, permanent, Euro-style double bed in the rear nearside corner and washroom with walk-in shower alongside.
At the same time, Ford began introducing the Euro 5 version of its Duratorq engine. All arrived with a six-speed manual gearbox. Where the 600 series Euro 4 offered 115bhp, the Euro 5 developed 125bhp. In the case of the 700 series, the Euro 4’s 125bhp became 140bhp in the Euro 5.
The T-725 failed to make it past the 2014 model year, although all the rest continued until the end. That end was rather later than it might have been, because Auto-Trail cleverly bought up all existing stocks of the outgoing Transit, many of which included extra goodies at no additional cost.
All models in this generation of Tribute coachbuilts weigh 3500kg or less, so a standard driving licence for a vehicle with a manual gearbox is fine.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Motorhomes built on the Ford Transit are a great bet for long-term ownership because of the wide availability of spares, even for models 30 years old. That said, they are not perfect and were prone to failure of the dual mass flywheel (DMF) and the injection system – usually the pump.
Listen for a clattering noise when you turn the engine off, as this is an indicator of impending DMF failure. A full service history and a recent change of the drive belts is a must. Check that there is a passenger airbag too, as these were a cost-option on early models.
Overall these are trouble-free, but as with any pre-owned coachbuilt, insist on a full certified damp check and evidence of a recent habitation service.
Auto-Trail used lightweight rearward chassis extensions which were not capable of supporting a towbar. If the model you are looking at has a towbar, make sure that the extensions have been changed to heavier-duty ones.
All the layouts are practical and easy to live in. Note that several have a mismatch between the number of sleeping berths and travel seats, so make sure the seating suits you. Our pick for solo/couples is the T-615. For up to four people, it’s the T-715.
WHAT TO PAY
Private sales start from around £27,000. Currently there is a 2012 T-625 (four berths, two travel seats) for sale in Yorkshire for £28,500.
Vehicles4Leisure has a low-mileage 2012 T-620 (five berths, four travel seats) with an asking price of £29,995. By way of comparison, Tribby coachbuilts on the Transit base are now in production again and the current price is in the region of £48,000 to £50,500 OTR – and that’s including the newly increased first RFL rate.
OR YOU COULD TRY…
A low-profile overcab on a Transit: Roller Team 200 and 695, or the Luton overcab on a Transit: 500, 706 or 707.
• Tribute 600 and 700 series on Ford Transit chassis-cab
• Built 2010-2016 by Auto-Trail in Europarc, Grimsby, Lincolnshire
• Low-profile overcab coachbuilts
• Overall length – 600 series: 6.23m (20’ 5”), 700 series: 6.95m (22’ 9”)
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