Martin Bailey built his first trailer caravan – the Maestro – back in 1948. Despite being asked many times by customers, Bailey resolutely refused to build motorhomes, preferring to stick to caravans.

However, circumstances change, with the maker since going on to become one of the best motorhome manufacturers. After extensive development and testing, the first Bailey ‘vans were available for the 2012 model year,

Before the launch, they were affectionately referred to as ‘flying pigs’, because dealers had opined that “pigs will fly before Bailey builds a motorhome”. So it gave me great pleasure to inform them that all Gloucester Old Spots were fuelled and ready to taxi!

2011 Bailey 6BL prototype for six-berth Approach SE 760
2011 Bailey 6BL prototype for six-berth Approach SE 760 at the Millbrook Proving Ground

From the off, all Bailey motorhomes were coachbuilt using the maker’s (then) recently developed Alu-Tech construction. This clamps together bonded and laminated sidewalls and roof using an internal extruded-aluminium frame, locked together with T-bolt fixings. The result is immensely strong – strong enough for one vehicle to be placed on another’s roof!

In common with chanteuse Vanessa Williams, I’ve saved the best for last. As part of their rigorous pre-production testing, a fully fitted-out body and skeleton cab were subjected to the most stringent crash testing, to an impact of 20G. As far as I am aware, Bailey remains the only UK converter to do this.

2012 Bailey Approach SE 740 interior
2012 Bailey Approach SE 740 interior

All Approach SE models were built on the Peugeot Boxer cab with Al-Ko AMC fully galvanised, independently sprung chassis extensions, and this is the first crash-tested UK coachbuilt motorhome.

In other news from the Bristol brand, Bailey dropped the Autograph range from its site. See what I made of another recent entrant into the Practical Motorhome Hall of Fame, the Mini Wildgoose (1963-1968).

Take a look at what I thought of the Jurgens Autovilla (1974-1985) t00: a rear-lounge ‘van also known as the ‘Skilpad’.

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