Autohomes had a very famous address among manufacturers of motorhomes, at 59 Old Wareham Road, Poole.
Previously inhabited by an earlier incarnation of the firm, it started life as Bluebird Caravans, then became part of CI’s empire, and finally, Autohomes.
They were brilliant for value-for-money coachbuilts for the masses and, at one stage, outsold all other UK-based manufacturers.
Easy to handle
‘Autohome’ was originally a model name. ‘Motorhome’ and the longer, plusher ‘Travelhome’ were Ford-based coachbuilts from the same stable.
The Travelhome V (Mark 5) was the last generation of a well-received marque.
It differed from predecessors by having the entrance door forward on the nearside, whereas all previous models featured a door centrally placed on the back panel.
Travelhomes were built on the Ford Transit chassis-cab, which back then was rear-wheel drive.
Hugely well-equipped, and with the option of an automatic transmission (eat your heart out, SEVEL), the only thing that was pared down during production of the Mark 5 was its overall length.
It was deliberately kept under 18ft so it would fit on the SWB chassis-cab.
As a result, it offered a tight turning circle, approaching that of a London taxi, with class-leading manoeuvrability.
A single floorplan
There was only one interior layout. On entering via the residential (stable-type) door, the double Pullman dinette is across the aisle. Seating complement could be increased by swivelling the cab passenger seat.
The offside rear corner is home to the shower room, which boasted a cassette toilet, a fixed vanity basin and an opening window.
The remainder of the accommodation is kitchen – and what a corker it is. You get a hob, a grill, an oven, a three-way fridge, a sink with draining surface, acres of worktop and loads of storage.
Definitely the best galley in any compact coachbuilt then and, many would argue, still the best over 30 years later.
The Pullman dinette converts to a longitudinal double bed, with a similarly generously sized transverse double bed in the Luton.
Several dealers offered overhead cupboards instead of the Luton bed.
Autohomes also built a few Travelhome V models with an extra-wide entrance door for wheelchair users.
Standard motive power was courtesy of Ford’s Pinto 2.0-litre petrol engine, with a 2.5-litre direct-injection naturally aspirated diesel engine and a turbocharged derv drinker of similar capacity as cost options.
- Autohomes V on Ford Transit SWB chassis-cab
- Built in Poole, UK, 1987-1993
- Overcab coachbuilt, overall length 5.41m (17’ 9”)
What to look for
If you’ve spotted one of these on the used motorhomes for sale pages, what should you look for?
Tin worm was the Blue Oval’s big failing back then. That said, repair panels are still widely available and won’t cost a queen’s ransom – worth knowing if you are handy with angle-grinding and welding.
The Pinto power unit is smooth and civilised, with the five-speed ’box providing a ratio for every occasion.
Diesel units are bomb-proof but sound like a bucket of nails being kicked over and tend to smoke on load, such as when ascending motorway inclines.
But they are easy to work on and good for a quarter of a million miles.
As with any motorhome of this age, water ingress will be the big enemy, so check carefully.
Look everywhere, but particular trouble spots are around those corner windows in the Luton and along the roof-to-wall seams.
Budget for adding carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, a fire blanket and a fire extinguisher.
Get the gas and electrical systems checked by an expert.
- Cheap as chips
- Short and sweet
- Easy to obtain base vehicle spares
- It has a huge kitchen
- Softly sprung
- Limited payload on TD models
What to pay
Basket cases (spares only) are around £750 asking price, with fixer-uppers from £2500.
Good order low-milers cost from £4250, with mint ones from £6000 (private).
At the time of writing, eBay had a private seller offering a one-owner 1991 petrol auto, 60,000 miles, FSH, recent habitation service for £5995 ONO. It looked a peach in the pics.
We would advise you to buy on condition, not on engine type, but all things being equal, we’d go for petrol power.
Or you could try an Auto-Sleeper Legend Mk 1 on the Ford Transit (1986-91), or various Pilote coachbuilts also on the Transit (1985-2000).
It has a tight turning circle, approaching that of a London taxi, with class-leading manoeuvrability