As the number of countries calling themselves European has grown, so has the diversity in spoken and written languages. There are 24 major European languages, but if we include minority tongues, that number increases to an astonishing 200! To make our coverage of the industry manageable, Europe has been subdivided into two areas. I’ve previously taken a look at the motorhomes of eastern Europe, while this time, I’m taking a look at the motorhomes of western Europe.
Some countries have few or no volume producers of ‘vans; others host many converters. Spain and Portugal have few motorhome brands, but a far higher percentage of active motorcaravanners per head of population than many other European countries.
We’re starting with the bedroom of a six-berth motorcaravan not built by a ‘van manufacturer, but by the Portuguese company Catiana. It specialises in bespoke coachbuilt bodies for a variety of uses, but particularly as mobile surgeries and as accommodation for scientific research teams.
Many claim to build liner-class motorhomes, but not all exude sophistication and quality – this Iveco-based 10,500kg French Notin Liner 940G certainly does, however. Joseph and Francis Notin started building trailer caravans over a century ago, and motorhomes in 1948.
Unlike many other manufacturers, they began with an ‘integral’, featuring their popular lantern roof. Guide price: €400,000.
Spanish Benimar motorcaravans are currently exclusively imported into the UK by the Marquis Group. However, while models like the Benimar Tessoro 483 are imported, not all ranges are Blighty-bound, as evidenced by this appealing Fiat Ducato-based Amphitryon A-class coachbuilt.
The name Benimar derives from Benicarló – the company’s original location – and ‘mar’, because it was beside the sea!
It is widely (but incorrectly) thought that global expedition motorhomes are all built in Germany. Bliss Mobil is based in the Netherlands. The unitary body is mounted on the chassis via pivots to allow maximum axle articulation. A wide range of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 base vehicles is available, and each model is a fully bespoke build.
Arca claims to be the first Italian volume motorcaravan manufacturer, commencing in 1959. Although its A-class motorhomes used to be exported to the UK in some number, there isn’t a current importer/dealership… shame!
Arca low-profile coachbuilts, such as this Ducato-based Europe 745, ooze style and have a strong presence.
The stunning German state of Schleswig-Holstein is home to what is frequently quoted as the biggest leisure vehicle manufacturing site in Europe. Output there is reported as 3000-4000 units per year.
Hobby popularised tandem-axle coachbuilts in the UK back in the 1990s. Pictured above is the interior of one of its Vantana PVCs.
Campers Conversion is based in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, where the highly skilled workforce will build the interior of your vehicle finished in whichever material you might fancy… within reason! Pictured below is a VW T6 elevating-roof campervan, but the brand also specialises in converting the high-top VW Crafter, and will undertake a partial
or staged conversion.
Karmann Mobil is a design-led German manufacturer of motorhomes and was the first in Europe to build a coachbuilt (Gipsy) on the Bay Window Vee-Dub. The firm has remained fiercely independent, despite being taken over by Eura Mobil in 2000, and then Trigano Group in 2005. Pictured here is Duncan…no really! Duncan 495, to be precise.
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