AUTO-SLEEPERS HARMONY 1995-2003

First launched on the previous Boxer incarnation, the Harmony was so successful, it transferred to the new Boxer for the 1995 model year.

It had fascia gearchange and was the first motorhome chassis to offer PAS (power-assisted-steering) as standard on all right-hand-drive models.

Auto-Sleepers managed to squeeze in four travel seats, a well-equipped kitchen and a washroom complete with a full shower. Blown-air space heating and dual-fuel water heating were standard equipment.

There was a choice of converting the lounge into two easy-access singles, or a rather fiddly-to-make-large-double. An additional cost-option replaced the overcab lockers with a well-built fold-out-high-level double.

ESSENTIALS

  • Auto-Sleeper Harmony on SWB Peugeot Boxer X/44 five-door panel van
  • Built 1995-2003 in Willersey, Gloucestershire
  • Overall length 4.88m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Check that the gearchange is smooth and the synchromesh effective. Look out for corrision and make sure you have an HPI check done.

OUR PICK

Buy on condition rather than age, and go for a model that provides the high-level bed.

GUIDE PRICE £10,000 to £13,000.

TRIBUTE COACHBUILTS 2009-2015

(ON FORD TRANSIT)

Tributes have always had practical layouts and given value for money. Models were divided by overall length into two series: the 600s and 700s. All are front-wheel drive, with Ford’s 2.2-litre Puma engine.

Early models were all Luton overcabs with clean lines and Auto-Trail offered two upgrade packs: Drivers and Lux. These were soon replaced with a higher basic spec and a new Sports Pack.

Low-line overcabs (model specific) arrived in 2011. The T-715 replaced the high-level transverse bed of the T-725 with a longitudinal low-level French double bed, and a washroom and walk-in shower cubicle adjacent.

All of the models continued until 2015, when the decision was made to switch to Fiat Ducato.

ESSENTIALS

  • Tribute coachbuilts on Ford Transit chassis-cab
  • Built 2009-2015 in Grimsby, north-east Lincolnshire
  • Low-profile and Luton overcab coachbuilts
  • Overall length 6.2m to 6.9m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Listen closely when turning off engine. Any clatter might indicate dual mass flywheel is beginning to fail.

OUR PICK

T-610 as a compact two-berth, or T-715 for the permanent French bed.

GUIDE PRICE From £25,000.

HYMER B-CLASS 1986-1994

(ON FIAT DUCATO/CITROËN C25 AND PEUGEOT J9)

Confusingly, what Hymer called B-class have been what we call A-class. With the latter, the converters build their own bodywork onto the chassis from the floor upwards.

The 694 appeared in 1989. Shorter models include the 534 (rear U-shaped lounge), 544 (forward Pullman dinette with sofas opposite) and 564 (forward Pullman dinette ahead of a sizeable washroom). The mid-length 644 added a fixed low-level transverse double bed at the far rear. The flaghsip 694 was a stretched version of the 644.

The fact that most of these models were left-hand-drive just seemed to increase their desirability.

All had an additional drop-down transverse bed in the cab as standard and, as well as their suitability for European roads, another advantage of opting for a left-hand-drive model was a far better gearchange.

ESSENTIALS

  • Hymer B-class on Fiat Ducato/Peugeot J9 SWB and LWB chassis-cowl and on Fiat Ducato cowl/A-Ko tandem-axle chassis
  • Built 1986-1994 in Bad Waldsee, south-western Germany
  • All A-class integral coachbuilts
  • Overall length, 500 series: 5.64m, 644 series: 6.68m, 694 series: 7.24m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Full service history is desirable, and evidence of recent engine drive belt changes essential.

OUR PICK

534 for solos/couples, 544 for families. The 694 i apt for full-timing. If funds permit, go for a late, smooth-sided model with power-assisted steering.

GUIDE PRICE £5000 to £15,000.

BILBO’S CELEX & NEXA 2003-2015

(ON VW TRANSPORTER T5)

Bilbo’s has been converting Volkswagen Transporters since 1977, offering a range tailored to UK buyers with the side sliding door in the UK nearside.

Celex has the traditional VW camper layout of twin swivelling cab seats, with a double rock and roll seat/bed located at the rear.

Nexa has two forward-facing travel seats either side of the aisle, which partner the swivelled cab seats to form a lounge-diner or two single beds.

Each model was available in any VW colour, on short- or long-wheelbase variants, and with a high-top or either of the two elevating roofs.

In 2009, all engines became 2.0-litre common-rail injection turbodiesels, and a seven-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) was introduced.

ESSENTIALS

  • Bilbo’s Celex and Nexa on VW Transporter T5
  • Built from 2003 to 2015 in Godstone, Surrey
  • All-steel panel van with side- or rear-hinged canvas-sided elevating-roof, GRP high-top or steel high-top
  • Overall length – short wheelbase: 4.9m, long wheelbase: 5.3m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Check for recent replacement of engine drive belts and insist coolant is VW’s own product. Lift and lower roof to check operation and no mildew.

OUR PICK

We’d opt for low-lie side-hinged elevating roof and use it as our only vehicle, with DSG (auto) if possible.

GUIDE PRICE From £20,000.

SWIFT RIO 2014-2018

When it first launched in 2014, Rio was very well-received by the motorhome cognoscenti, garnering numerous favourable reviews.

The launch offer was a brace of ‘vans, the 320 and 340. The 320s offered two sleeping berths (as two single beds or a transverse double), whereas the 340 had a shorter rear lounge that could be converted to a transverse double bed, and a forward half-dinette providing two extra travel seats.

In 2016, the 310 and the 340 joined the line-up, and the drop-down bed was an option on the 320.

The 310 positioned the parallel-sofa lounge at the front, with a full-width changing room/shower/washroom at the rear. The 325 had a forward half-dinette, with a midships kitchen and washroom ahead of an adjustable-height transverse fixed double bed over the garage.

ESSENTIALS

  • Swift Rio on Fiat Ducato low-line SWB and MWB chassis-cab
  • Built from 2014 to 2018 in Cottingham, East Yorkshire
  • Low-profile coachbuilt
  • Overall length – 310/325: 5.99m, 320/340: 6.4m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

There was a problem with the poor visibility of the instrument nacelle on bright days. Check that the recall has been carried out – there should have been a rewire so the instrument backlighting operates at all times.

OUR PICK

The 320 if the option to sleep in single beds is important, or the 340 of four travel seats are required.

GUIDE PRICE £35,000 to £48,000.

ELDDIS VOYAGER 1990-1995

In the 1990s, Elddis was enjoying huge success with its upper mid-market three-model Voyager range.

All were the same length, with the Voyager II and III placing the entrance door behind the rear axle, whereas on Voyager I it was ahead of it.

Voyager II was the most popular by a small margin and offered four adult berths, plus a travel seat for each.

Voyager III was similar, although it replaced the Pullman dinette with an inward-facing sofa and had only four sleeping berths and two travel seats.

Family favourite was the Voyager I, with an inspired layout featuring six sleeping berths (three double) and six designated travel seats. The clever layouts and good spec facilitated all-year-round touring in the UK.

ESSENTIALS

  • Elddis Voyager on long-wheelbase Talbot Express chassis-cab
  • Built 1990-1995 in Consett, County Durham
  • Overcab coachbuilt
  • Overall length 6.28m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Check the cab area very carefully for corrosion, especially below the windscreen pillars, and under the bonnet, around the bulkhead behind the engine.

OUR PICK

For couples, Voyager III; for those who like a dinette, Voyager II; Voyager I appeals to larger families.

GUIDE PRICE £4000 to £10,000.

AUTO-SLEEPERS NUEVO 2015-present

Nuevo was first unveiled in 2002 to fill a gap in the range, which was lacking a compact coachbuilt. Currently, the offer consists of two layouts, with three overcab styles.

All have the safe offside wardrobe ahead of the corner washroom with swing-wall shower compartment. The kitchen is common to both, as are the lounge and swivelling cab seats. The lounges convert to a transverse double or two longitudinal singles.

The original base vehicle was the 130bhp Peugeot Boxer, but for the crop featured here, the default choice was the 150bhp Euro 5 engine, followed by the 160bhp Euro 6. Currently, the Fiat automatic option with 150bhp engine is £4000 extra, so expect a premium for a pre-owned example.

ESSENTIALS

  • Auto-Sleeper Nuevo on Peugeot Boxer (Fiat Ducato optional)
  • Built 2015 to present in Willersey, near Broadway, Gloucestershire
  • Overcab low-profile and Luton coachbuilt
  • Overall length 5.75m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Look for a full service history, and for those buying newer examples, check warranty documentation is present.

OUR PICK

If this is to be your ‘only’ vehicle, the ES, because of the extra travel seats. The Ducato if you want automatic transmission. Don’t buy a Nuevo without the Premium Pack.

GUIDE PRICE From £40,000, although previous generations are much cheaper.

ITINEO A-CLASS RANGE 2007-2013

A range designed to appeal to younger, less well-off buyers with families. These motorhomes were affordable, and weighed no more than 3500kg. The initial range consisted of six models over three lengths.

As with all of the launch range, the compact TD 610 features a forward lounge ahead of the midships kitchen, with two doubles located transversely.

The LB 690 replaces the transverse rear bed of the 610 with a low-level fixed longitudinal bed while the biggest seller, the CD 720, has a low-level island double bed.

The 2009 season saw three new 740 models. The MB 740 had a low-level island double bed at the far end, and the JB 740 replaced the rear double with two longitudinal single beds, whereas the TB 740 provided a high-level permanent transverse double bed.

ESSENTIALS

  • Itineo A-class range on Fiat Ducato LWB chassis-cowl and on tractor unit with Al-Ko Kober chassis extensions.
  • Built 2007-2013 in Beaucouzé, western France
  • A-class integral coachbuilt
  • Overall length 6.1m (TB 610) to 8.0m (MB 800/TB 800)

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

On some models, there are no rearward chassis extensions behind the rear axle. As a result, the floor is unsupported for a considerable distance. Go to the far rear and check for any ‘give’ in the floor and listen for groans from there while driving on uneven surfaces. Walk away if you spot either of these.

OUR PICK

If you require a full-height garage, go for the TB 610. Otherwise, we think the CD 720 is an outstandingly practical design.

GUIDE PRICE

Previously from £28,500 (TB 610), although none is currently being advertised.

BAILEY APPROACH (COMPACT & ADVANCE) 2013-2018

It’s easy to forget that just eight years ago, Bailey only made trailer caravans. But since their 2012 launch, the Bristol company’s motorhome sales have grown substantially and today, Bailey is a major player in this market.

In 2013, Bailey unveiled a brace of compact narrow-bodied coachbuilts, the Approach Compacts. Built to the same high spec as the Autograph, the only things pared down on the Compacts were their dimensions.

All wriggled into the sub-6m class, and body width (excluding mirrors) was reduced from Autograph’s 2.42m to a svelte 2.36m.

Compact added two new layouts: the 520, with permanent transverse high-level double bed above a rear garage, and the 540, with two extra travel seats, a drop-down ready-made double bed and a generous full-width washroom/changing area.

ESSENTIALS

  • Bailey Approach Compact and Approach Advance on Peugeot Boxer Al-Ko
  • Built 2013-2018 in Bristol
  • Low-profile overcab coachbuilts
  • Overall length 5.99m (Compact 520/540 and Advance 615) to 6.96m (Advance 665)

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

If you regularly travel through an ultra-low emission area, be aware that 2.2-litre models are Euro 5 and 2.0-litre are Euro 6.

OUR PICK

Compact 520 for garage, Advance 635 for couples, Advance 665 for families.

GUIDE PRICE From £35,000.

McLOUIS LOW-PROFILES 2000-2006

(ON FIAT DUCATO)

McLouis was established by Pier Luigi Alinari, an influential name in ‘van manufacture. The 261 was the shorter launch model, at 5.98m, and featured a nearside rear corner permanent double bed, with a shower room alongside and a forward double Pullman dinette. Both the 261 and the 361 had six travel seats, but only four sleeping berths.

In 2002, a new model, the 5,54m (18’ 2″) 251, joined the entry-level Lagan range. The mid-range Glen 362 inherited the layout of the old 261. The 361 became the Glen 363, benefiting from a revamped lounge-diner.

Accompanying the facelift was a new range of common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel engines. Lagan 251 had the 2.0-litre 84bhp JTD; the 362 and 363, the range-topping 127bhp 2.8-litre JTD.

ESSENTIALS

  • McLouis low-profiles on Fiat Ducato X/44 chassic-cab
  • Built 2000-2006 in Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany, Italy
  • Low-line overcab coachbuilt
  • Overall length 5.54m to 6.69m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Make sure that if there is a towbar, it was from an approved manufacturer/fitter. Also, check for water ingress and insist on a full habitation service.

OUR PICK

If you want a garage, it will have to be the Lagan 253G. Otherwise, you’ll find there isn’t really that much to choose between them.

GUIDE PRICE From £13,000.

AUTO-TRAIL V-LINE CUSTOM HIGH-TOP 2013-2018

The V-Line kicked off in late 2013 with two models: the 600, with a forward lounge, and the 610, with the lounge in the rear. The following year, the 620 appeared. Auto-Trail’s first high-top with a fixed transverse rear double bed. Two swivelling cab seats joined the inward-facing offside settee.

V-Lines began to offer a replacement for the barn doors – a moulded GRP panel, with full-width window and boot-style access, enabling buyers to opt for a U-shaped lounge.

Auto-Trail developed a cheaper range using the high-top Ducato. The custom high-tops were renamed V-Line Sport and the new range was the V-Line SE. In 2018, the Sport was pulled, but they continued to offer the moulded rear panel as part of a Sports Pack.

ESSENTIALS

  • V-Line and V-Line Sport on Fiat Ducato LWB panel van
  • Built by Auto-Trail in Europarc, Grimsby, North Lincolnshire
  • Overall length 5.99m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Check for a full service history and replacement of engine drive-belts every five years or so.

OUR PICK

Both the 610 and the 620 make best use of the space, although the 600 has the superior washroom and the option of added travel seats; 150bhp strikes the perfect balance of power and economy.

GUIDE PRICE

These motorhomes are highly desirable and you’re unlikely to find one below £35,000.

MURVI MORELLO AND MOROCCO 1996-present

Murvi has been building superb panel van conversions for more than 35 years. The Morello features a spacious lounge, a well laid-out kitchen and a practical washroom, and yet still squeezes into the sub-6m class.

An L-shaped settee runs along the offside and has two swivelling cab seats and a freestanding table. The L-shaped kitchen runs rearward on the nearside. A longitudinal double bed converts from the settee.

The Morocco is similar in layout to the Morello, except the settee converts into two single beds or a vast double.

When Fiat launched the XL version of its long-wheelbase Ducato van, Murvi responded by adding the Morello/Morocco XLs to the range.

The XL variants allow for inclusion of a useful exterior-access, full-height storage compartment, located to the rear of the washroom.

ESSENTIALS

  • Murvi Morello/Morello XL and Morocco/Morocco XL on Fiat Ducato 35 long-wheelbase and XL panel van
  • Built in Ivybridge, Devon, from 1996 to the present
  • High-top all-steel five-door PVC
  • Overall length, Morello/Morocco: 5.99m, Morello XL/Morocco XL: 6.36m

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Check any refinishing and respraying has been carried out to the highest standards. Be wary of any ‘pretenders’; there are some unscrupulous folk who have advertised other manufacturers’ efforts or DIY conversions as a Murvi.

OUR PICK

Morocco if you want the option of single beds, otherwise Morello.

GUIDE PRICE From £12,000 for early models, rising to the mid-£50ks for the latest models. Expect to pay around £35,000 for a 10-year-old model with low mileage.

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