In the second part of our Getting Started series we meet the rest of the team and Gentleman Jack shows us around No 34.
Last month, we suggested different ways of entering the world of motorcaravanning on a very limited budget. This time we’ll take stock of what we’ve bought and produce our all-important ‘to do’ list.
[tl:gallery index=1 size=215×145]Although I’m managing the project and using No 34 as a daily driver, its principal raison d’etre is for single mum Kate and her son Kyle (pictured) to use on their windsurfing holidays, when visiting music festivals and for weekends away visiting friends.
Kate works full time, while Kyle is a keen sportsman and a Royal Airforce Air Cadet. Their ideal campervan wish list was mercifully short: it should be cheap and cheerful, with plenty of standing room and two single beds.
No 34 – a 1977 Auto-Sleeper on a Leyland Sherpa 215 base – ticked all the right boxes. The drive train consists of a 1.8-litre B-series petrol engine driving the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox with an after-fit Laycock overdrive operating on all forward gears.
1 Don’t limit yourself to looking for a particular make or model. Consider any motorhome that is in a half-decent condition.
2 Never travel long distances to view prospective ’vans; it’s expensive, time-consuming and exerts a subtle pressure to buy. We set a limit of a 90-minute drive (each way) and, in fact, opted for a ’van that was down the road.
3 Look at the seller as closely as the vehicle. Do you trust them? Are they trying to hide anything? Our seller was a smashing chap and disarmingly honest. The description in the advert was along the lines of… ‘interior is a mixed bag, exterior/chassis is sound, though the body remains cosmetically challenged. It’s a good runner though sometimes jumps out of reverse gear.’
4 Never buy anything without a current MoT certificate with at least five months to run. Remember, this isn’t a restoration project but a turn-key fixer-upper. Dismiss any claims along the lines of, ‘only requires a so-and-so for an MoT’. If the repairs were that cheap and easy to fix then why didn’t the seller do it themselves?
5 This last point is often repeated but is more relevant than ever: if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Our fully comprehensive insurance policy covers Kate and Gentleman Jack for unlimited mileage. We didn’t have any no-claims bonus to transfer to this policy and insured it as a classic vehicle through specialist Footman James (www.footmanjames.co.uk) for a very competitive £176.24. We’ve covered around 1000 miles in No 34 already and found that it has a slight oil leak from the engine, the clutch pedal rubber has a mind of its own and, as stated in the original advert, it does sometimes jump out of reverse gear.
Remember those three golden rules: get real, stay focussed and buy with care.
For part one of this feature, click here.