We’re now more than half-way through our look at a ‘dozen doozies’ – motor caravans that sold well when new, making mint pre-owned examples easy to find. Number seven was – and still is – ‘spot-on-the-beat’ for desirability. It is the Autocruise Rhythm. Before starting our Cook’s Tour, let’s dismiss two frequently repeated myths.
Autocruise changed hands twice during the production run of the Rhythm. It went from a privately owned, independent manufacturer to one owned by a group backed by RBS and headed up by Joe Anwyll, which later went belly-up and was rescued by the Swift Group.
Under Swift, production continued at Autocruises’s Mexborough factory for a while, before joining the rest of the Swift gang in Cottingham.
Although it is often opined that quality took a dip after Swift took over, readers’ responses to our Owner Satisfaction Survey strongly indicate the opposite!
Another myth is that Swift canned production of the Rhythm in 2017. They didn’t – they just renamed it as Swift Select 122. It continues to be a dedicated two-berth big enough for extended trips, but small enough to explore off the beaten track.
Swivelling cab seats are ahead of a nearside kitchen and offside washroom and wardrobe, and there’;s a palatial triple-aspect lounge at the far rear.
The latter, consists of two long, inward-facing settees – in the Rhythm and Rhythm Sport, these convert into a ginormous double bed, or two easily accessed longitudinal singles.
The Rhythm Compact is, as its name suggests, shorter in overall length. One consequence is that the rear bed can only be made up as a transverse double. Mind you, with an overall length of just 5.41m/17’9″, not only is the Compact easy to live in, it’s also easy to park!
Rhythm’s interior layout remained the same. Production changes have mostly been with cabinetwork and soft furnishing fabrics.
Launched on the long-wheelbase high-top version of he Peugeot Boxer, the initial choice of exterior colour was silver, or… um… silver. Motive power was Peugeot’s 2.2-litre 120bhp TD unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. In truth, it was actually a Ford Puma unit and very good it is, too.
The 2010 season saw a repositioning of the washroom’s forward wall, to allow more rearward adjustment of the driver’s seat.
The ‘Champagne’ special edition, launched in 2011, ran for 18 months. Goodies included Champagne Gold metallic paint, alloys, awning, cab air-con, cruise control, intruder alarm, reversing sensors and Impala fabrics from their flagship Driving coachbuilts. (‘Driving’ because they were all named after famous golf courses – nothing to do with the black-top.)
The lower-spec Rhythm Sport first saw the light of day in 2012 and is easily identified by its white coachwork. The Rhythm Compact launched in 2013.
All models from late 2016 were fitted with Peugeot’s built-in-house 2.0-litre Euro 6 TD 130bhp engine, which is an absolute bell-ringer.
One of the great mysteries of all time concerns Peugeot’s reluctance or perhaps inability to offer auto transmission on the Boxer. Rumour has it they refused to contribute to Fiat’s development of the Comfortmatic gearbox and so can’t use it – but wouldn’t Fiat sell it to anybody who wants to buy it?
Anyway, to address this anomaly and satisfy potential purchasers’ demands, the Fiat Ducato was offered as an alternative base from 2013.
- Autocruise Rhythm and Rhythm Sport on LWB Peugeot Boxer and LWB Fiat Ducato. Rhythm Compact on MWB Boxer/Ducato.
- Built 2007-2017, initially at Autocruise, Swinton, Mexborough, UK, then at Swift Group, Cottingham, UK
- All-steel five-door, high-top panel van conversion
- Overall length: Rhythm and Rhythm Sport 6.0m (19’8″); Rhythm Compact: 5.41m (17’9″)
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Boxer/Ducato/Relay are the most popular underpinnings for high-top motor caravans because they tick almost everything on both converters’ and purchasers’ wish-lists.
They cope superbly with a van conversion’s considerable avoirdupois, as well as providing an engaging drive. However, they need regular servicing – look for a full service history based on time intervals, not mileage.
There were problems with paint adhesion on early models, notably on the bonnet and the roof. If these look a bit flaky, don’t walk away, instead bargain hard and get them refinished by the local vehicle bodyshop. Flaky paint is not usually the result of corrosion, as the base coats remain.
The oldest models will be 14 years old now, so budget for updating smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and for having a full service of all items of domestic equipment – not just a habitation inspection. Ensure that all blinds and fly screens operate smoothly and the seat form is still supportive. Check the age of the gas regulator and replace that if it is more than five years old.
Rhythm or Rhythm Compact with the option packs fitted. The author always fancied a Champagne special edition with the 3.0-litre 160bhp motor. Those who are after an automatic will have to concentrate on Ducato-based models.
WHAT TO PAY
Examples available privately from £25,999. Our own ‘For Sale’ selection at practicalmotorhome.com has the following sharply priced lovelies for sale (among others).
In ascending price order: Chris Fisher (Motorhome Depot) has a 2009 Rhythm (40,477 miles) at an asking price of just £28,999. The RRP of an equivalent 2021 Swift 122, including Lux and Driver Packs, is £51,565 OTR.
Wellsbridge Motorhomes has a 2012 Rhythm Sport at £32,995.
TC Motorhomes is offering a 2013 Rhythm Compact for £34,999 and 4 Front Motorhomes has an ‘as new’ low-mileage 2016 Rhythm for £42,290.
OR YOU COULD TRY…
Peugeot/Fiat base: Auto-Sleeper Warwick, Vantage Med/Sol, IH 540RL/600RL. Renault Master base: WildAx Europe.
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The oldest models will be 14 years old now, so budget for updating smoke and carbon monoxide alarms