More than 10 years since the last one rolled off the production line, the Auto-Sleeper Legend is still a very sought-after carriage and commands a premium price.
Quintessentially British, the Legend was a perfect synergy of chassis, coachwork and furnishings. Build quality has never been equalled and we are unlikely to see anything as elegantly understated as this series again. It’s now just too expensive for Auto-Sleepers to build them this way.
The body is a beautifully finished GRP monocoque designed by William Towns of Aston Martin fame. There are no seams to leak and it integrates smoothly with the cab. Not a sharp angle or flat panel in sight. Pure eye candy.
Auto-Sleeper furniture of this period was craftsman-built. No MDF or cheap photo-veneers here. Just quality fittings, beautifully finished.
The Legend was only built on Ford’s special motorhome chassis. Fully loaded and with the top TD unit as standard, it featured so much more than rivals, and it was rear-wheel drive. Standard spec included tweaked suspension, inflatable lumbar support on the heated cab seats, heated windscreen and a special mounting system for the body. A peachy torque-converter automatic gearbox was available and the 2.5 DI engine is just bomb-proof.
• Auto-Sleeper Legend on LWB Ford Transit special motorhome chassis-cab. Made in Great Britain between 1995 and 2000 • Coachbuilt 6.28m (20’ 7¼”)
TIPS TO HELP YOU BUY BETTER
The truth is that Ford’s old DI diesel engine in the base vehicle was showing its age by the time the Legend graced the scene. It always was noisy on the outside – so even well maintained examples are going to sound pretty vocal today – and it has a tendency to smoke if you bury the loud pedal in the Axminster. Don’t be put off though; it’s as hardy as they come and should be quiet inside as it was heavily soundproofed and used special engine mounts. Its Achilles heel is tin worm. Fortunately, all repair panels are available, but do check thoroughly. Cab step-wells, the bottoms of the doors and around the wheel arches are the areas most prone to corrosion.
No amount of build quality excellence can protect against accidents, so look carefully along the coachbuilt body for evidence of poorly executed crash repairs. Unlike the laminated GRP sandwich panels of today, which telegraph the strengthening strands to the surface, the Legend’s body should be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Tired gel coat can be restored to a mirror-like shine using Farecla polish and plenty of elbow grease.
■ Monocoque body to die for
■ Classy interior cabinetwork
■ Easy and cheap-to-repair ‘Fred Flintstone’ mechanicals
■ Dedicated two berth with loads of high-level lockers
■ Cab is prone to rusting
■ Some of the soft furnishing fabrics will be too twee for some
One with the automatic gearbox on a nice, late plate – preferably with plain green curtains.
What to pay
Buttons won’t buy one. You’ll need at least £15,000 to get a fair example. 1999/2000 minters have recently gone for as much as £25,000, though £22,000 should have closed the deal.
Or you could try…
Herald Valencia or Elnagh King. Both have similar layouts to the Legend and were also built on the Ford Transit base.