Gentleman JackSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Used motorhome buying guides’ written by Gentleman Jack
If we had to choose two words to sum up these French compact coachbuilt motorhomes, they would be ‘innovation’ and ‘choice’.
For many, it is the latter that distinguishes them, as so few companies offer such a variety of floorplans in sub-6m ’vans.
Chausson does and then goes one stage further, by offering many on a Ford Transit or Fiat Ducato base.
Right-hand-drive versions were available on all our featured ’vans and were sold across Chausson’s UK dealer network.
That said, some Brits who spend a lot of time touring abroad opted to buy a left-hooker from mainland Europe, and these are now also appearing on British used motorhomes for sale pages.
Shortly after the launch of the X/250 Fiat Ducato, Chausson unveiled a new range of Flash coachbuilt motorhomes.
The compact ones kicked off with the low-profile 5.67m Flash 02 on Fiat and the overcab 5.99m Flash S3 on Ford Transit.
The Flash 02 featured a French bed and a half dinette. The S3 boasted six travel seats, twin rear transverse bunk beds, one overcab double and one double converted from the forward nearside dinette.
These continued with minor upgrades until the 2010 model year, when the 02 became the S2, grew to 5.99m and gained a full-width rear washroom.
The all-new, 5.99m Flash 04, Chausson’s first compact low-profile on this generation of Ford Transit, featured a high-level transverse double bed above a full-width garage.
A ground-breaking motorhome – for sale for less
Also in 2010, the more upmarket Welcome range gained two 5.99m low-profile Fiat-based models: the Welcome WS (same layout as the Flash 04) and the Welcome Suite.
We’d never seen anything like the Suite, with its centrally placed island kitchen, rear washroom and forward lounge – the transverse double bed descended from above the lounge.
There were too many innovations to list them all here, but this was a game-changer, offering so much floor space in a compact footprint.
In 2011 the Welcome Suite become the Suite and in 2015 the compact Flash offering was renumbered as 500/510/514/515.
Crucially, all were available on either Ford Transit or Fiat Ducato.
The 500 is the baby, with a rear L-shaped lounge, the 510 has a forward lounge, the 514 has a transverse double bed above a garage, and the 515 features a permanent low-level rear-corner double bed.
- Compact Chausson low-profiles on Ford Transit or Fiat Ducato, and Luton overcabs on Ford Transit only
- Built from 2007 to present in Tournon-sur-Rhône, France
- All built on front-wheel-drive chassis-cabs
- Overall length varies, but all under 6.0m (19’ 7”)
What to look for
Spied one of these in the used motorhomes for sale pages? We are here to help you buy with confidence.
Look for a full service history.
Owners of both Fords and Fiats have reported dual-mass flywheel failure at low mileages.
However, replacements seem better engineered and not prone to early retirement.
Fiat 2.3-litre engines require regular cambelt changes (on time interval, not mileage) and some early Fords were prone to an occasional invasion of electrical gremlins.
Check that all warning lights that should illuminate do so when the ignition is turned on, and that they extinguish after start-up.
An illuminated engine-management icon usually indicates a gummed-up EGR valve. Get it replaced as part of the deal.
As with any pre-owned coachbuilt motorhome, check carefully for signs of water ingress.
Overcab models are usually chosen by young families, so the fabrics may be a bit tired – negotiate hard if so.
Insist on evidence of a recent habitation check from an NCC- or manufacturer-approved workshop.
- Compact size
- Choice of layouts
- Good value for money (Flash)
- Clever design (Suite)
- No automatic transmission option on the Ford (there is now!)
- Conversion not handed for the UK
What to pay
Early models are available from dealers offering these used motorhomes for sale from just north of £20,000.
When we were researching this article, Hayes Leisure had a 2009 Ford Flash 04 with an asking price of £25,995 and a 2010 Fiat Flash S2 at £28,995.
Both of these are competitively priced and low mileage and, in the photographs, look as though they have really been cared for.
Our pick? If you can afford it, a Suite, but otherwise, the 514 if you need a garage, or the 515 if you don’t. Ford or Fiat… you decide!
Or what about a Rapido 700FF. It is a low-profile coachbuilt with a drop-down bed and is the closest French alternative.
Chausson also builds a cracking 6m panel van conversion called Twist… don’t discount it without looking at one.