Gentleman Jack

See other Advice articles filed in ‘Used motorhome buying guides’ written by Gentleman Jack
   
Indulge in top-class touring on a budget with a 2001-2006 Bürstner T-Star – if you're looking at used motorhomes, this former flagship is now a real treat

It's always great to get more for less. So do you fancy Germany luxury touring for a snip of the new price? Check out this 2001-2006 Bürstner!

Bürstner is an established manufacturer of touring caravans and motorhomes. It has come a long way since its first joinery workshop was set up in the 1920s. Indeed, it is now a significant member of the mighty Hymer Group of companies. And if you're looking at used motorhomes for sale, you can now get terrific value for less.

Fiat Ducato-based T-models had achieved significant European market penetration, carried by their low-profile, contemporary good looks and permanent beds.

Three models were added to the range, but significantly on the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The three-pointed Mercedes star on the bonnet was reflected in the line-up’s name.

T-Star featured three models weighing 3500kg, plus useful payloads. There wasn’t a lemon among them and all sold steadily.

The most popular by a whisker was the 6.86m-long T-Star 680. This had a front dinette, a central kitchen with a European-style, fixed rear corner bed and a washroom alongside.

Its two siblings stretched the tape to 7.16m. The T-Star 695 is similar to the T-Star 680, except that the rear bed is a high-level transverse above a full-size garage.

The Bürstner T-Star 710 keeps the garage but replaces the transverse double-bed with longitudinal, high-level twin beds. In order to squeeze these into the same length, the 710 moves the entrance door forward and dispenses with the short inward-facing sofa.

T-Stars were seen as Bürstner’s flagship low-profiles and with good reason. Not only was the base vehicle seen as being premium, but the specification was higher than in other Ts.

It wasn’t just a case of more bling or additional bells and whistles, but a ratcheting-up of the already high standard of build.

Standard T cabinetwork was elevated still further by the inclusion of scribed and inlaid doors plus sculpted infill panels. In the same vein, the slatted bed bases gained rubber ‘petal’ springs and pocket-sprung mattresses.

The rear-wheel drive garnered universal approval, though the robotised Sprintshift automatic gearbox wasn’t as well-received. Some reviewers found it jerky and slow to engage Drive on take-off. Having said that, I've driven new and used examples and experienced no problems. Indeed some readers agree, having praised the automatic gearbox in Practical Motorhome's annual Owner Satisfaction surveys.

The essentials

  • Bürstner T-Star range on Mercedes-Benz Euro Sprinter
  • Built 2001-2006 in Kehl (Rhein), Germany
  • Low-profile overcab coachbuilt
  • Overall length 6.86m (22ft 6in) or 7.16m (23ft 6in)

  
What to look for

Like the sound of these ’vans? Head to our used motorhomes for sale pages and start searching. Here's what to look for when viewing prospective purchases, to help you buy with confidence.

    
Base vehicle

Mercedes-Benz had worked hard on the handling and chassis dynamics, considerably improving the queasy roly-poly ride and imprecise steering on pre-facelift models.

Its designers also dispensed with the tree-trunk gear lever sprouting from the floor, replacing it with a much slicker fascia-mounted lever.

The five-cylinder models (2.7-litre) had hydraulic tappets that on occasion were reluctant to jack-up on start-up, making a clattering noise for the first 10 seconds or so. This is not necessarily terminal or even a result of tragically low oil-pressure, but make sure it’s fixed.

Otherwise, look for a full service history and check the precision of the steering.

Conversion

This was very good, but even the newest will be a decade old, so undertake the usual checks for water ingress.

When doing so, pay particular attention to the area around the internal window frames, in the overhead lockers and in the seat squabs/bed boxes.

Likes

  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Sensible payloads at 3500kg
  • Choice of permanent bed
  • Stylish and timeless interiors

   
Dislikes

  • Despite upgrades, the ride is still very soft
  • There is no oven or grill on ‘grey’ left-hand-drive imports

   
What to pay

Some Bürstner T-Star motorhomes are available in Europe from as little as €20,000. However, for a UK-sourced one, expect the same figure but in pounds Sterling.

It’s worth buying one based on its condition rather than its age. At the time of writing, Lincoln Leisure Vehicles was advertising a fully loaded 2005 Sprintshift 680 for an extremely approachable £26,995 – the mileage is just 31,000 from new!

Top picks

It will be marginally easier to find a 680 because more were Blighty-bound, especially from grey importers. If you want to garage a motorbike or scooter, you’ll need a 695 or 710.

Wintering in Spain or Portugal? A left-hand-drive model is for you. The smaller 2.2-litre engine is more than adequate. Our reviewer’s favourite is a left-hand-drive 2.2-litre 710 Sprintshift.

Other options? Low-profile coachbuilts built on Mercedes-Benz bases were also being produced around this period by Hymer (T-Class) and Rimor (Superbrig).

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