In 2022, there were around 18 million motorhomes and campervans in use by Europeans, contributing billions of euros to domestic economies (source: European Caravan Federation). Germany has the most motorcaravans in use (500,000), although the UK is also a major player, with 290,000 on the road (check out our guide on UK motorhomes for more).
Despite the impact of Covid and supply chain problems, sales remain buoyant, with 1.74 million new registrations in 2021. Again, Germany is in pole position with 48,000, with the UK achieving over 14,000 (source: NCC). Over the past three years, Europe-wide sales of ’vans have increased, while sales of caravans have decreased slightly. As I continue to look at the different ‘vans of the world, this time I’m turning my attention to the motorhomes of eastern Europe. You’ll no doubt recognise Adria’s name, a maker that features in our best motorhome manufacturer guide.
Motorhomes of eastern Europe
The Twin gamechanger
Slovenia-based Adria Mobil has been making trailer caravans since 1965. Its first motorhome, the Renault-based Adriatik coachbuilt, was launched in 1982. However, it is the Twin (previously Win) high-top that was the real gamechanger, to the extent that I included it in the Practical Motorhome Hall of Fame. This is because it was the first to popularise panel vans with a permanent transverse double bed located at the far rear.
You can take a look at our review of the Adria Twin Supreme 600SX to get an idea of what a more modern model is like too.
Balcamp has displayed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter overcab high-top conversions at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon for some time. Recently, it has expanded its range of conversions to include ambitious bespoke builds on various base vehicles, including this mighty Century.
The interior vibe is akin to a high-end ocean-going yacht, with wonderfully elegant radiused furniture.
In the 1970s, Austrians Stephanie and Otfried Reitz ran a successful advertising agency. When one client requested an African background for a photoshoot, the couple built a demountable motorhome body for a 4×4 Chevrolet Blazer, to use as accommodation.
This led to the formation of the largest global explorer motorhome brand – Action Mobil.
JSC AutoGEMA, in Šiauliau, Lithuania, are well-known in their home country as builders of coachbuilt bodies, which they fit out for roles as diverse as mobile shops and self-contained recording studios.
A short time ago, they added motorcaravans to their portfolio, and their pedigree is obvious.
Tin-tops from the Czech Republic
The old adage, that most can build a good big motorcaravan, but it takes real skill to build a good small one, definitely applies to this superb user-friendly 4.8m Opel Vivaro (Vauxhall/Renault in UK) tin-top from JVM Camper of Beskydy, Czech Republic.
Elevating-roof models are also available, but tin-tops are more popular.
Saly in Turkey
The principals behind Saly have managed the biggest Turkish firm building motorhomes and caravans since 1975. They changed the name to Saly (an abbreviation of the Turkish word for snail) and adopted their cute logo in 1996.
This is the Iveco-based Cosmic, which, it is claimed, is now exported to more than 40 countries.
Unimogs are a hugely popular base for a compact off-road exploration motorcaravan, with good reason – they traverse challenging terrain with consummate ease (just look at the steep departure-angle to the rear), plus they are (practically) unbreakable.
Romanian Sfinx Campers have added an incredibly strong modular unitary body.
I’ve now come full circle as I look at some of the motorhomes of eastern Europe to conclude with one of the latest ’vans from Adria, a firm that has heroically survived its region’s financial problems and a recent war, plus previous civil unrest, to become one of Europe’s most highly regarded and technically advanced manufacturers.
This is their Mercedes Sprinter-underpinned Supersonic 780SL A-class, with a truly sumptuous interior. You can also take a look at our review of the Adria Supersonic 780DL to get an idea of what the ‘van is like inside.
- Are you in America and looking for a good waxing product for your ‘van? Then take a look at our best RV wax guide to see our top picks on the market.
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