The UK has around 78m people, at an average density of 278 sq km. According to the DVLA there were 11,600 new-owner registrations for new motorhomes and more than 63,000
pre-owned ones last year. It is estimated there are currently between 360,000 and 365,000 motorcaravans in use. Unlike in other European countries, a high proportion of motorhomers in the UK belong to one or more national clubs.
For the purposes of this guide, the UK is defined as England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, plus nearby associated offshore islands.
Pictured is the very first motorhome from our oldest volume converter, Auto-Sleepers. It was a DIY exercise on a Morris J2 completed by Calverley Trevelyan in 1960, specifically for a European family holiday. On their return it was sold to Henly’s of Bristol, who were so impressed they ordered five more.
The rest is history, as I explained when I inducted the Auto-Sleepers prequel on a Morris J2 into our Practical Motorhome Hall of Fame!
The first Bailey motorhomes were known as ‘flying pigs’ because folk had been heard to remark that Bristol-based Bailey Caravans would only build ‘vans “when pigs can fly”. The firm’s motorhomes were unveiled in 2012. Bailey remains the only UK converter to crash-test a fully fitted out coachbuilt shell – brilliant. And this author should know – he was invited along for the ride!
Coachman Caravans has been building trailer caravans in Hull since 1986. Swedish company Kabe was founded in 1957 and in 2021 Kabe took over Coachman. A year later, Coachman launched its well received Travelmaster motorhome range (pictured). Look again – it is actually a Kabe! These are ‘handed’ and rebadged for the UK. Smart move!
Take a look at our review of the Coachman Travel Master TM 565 to see what they’re like inside – and what we made of it.
47 years and counting!
There are many UK campervan converters of VW’s ubiquitous Transporter, but only one with 47 years of experience of continuously doing just that. I refer, of course, to family-owned and managed Bilbo’s of South Godstone.
Bilbo’s – named after the central character of JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit – are direct-sales only, so that the chain of communication to those who are building your motorhome is commendably short. Pictured is a Celex, the company’s current best-seller.
There’s been a lot of coverage recently of European campervan conversions of the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, some of it claiming the vehicle to be the first zero-(exhaust) emission campervan.
Actually, Derby-based Hillside Leisure got there eight years ago with its fully equipped Nissan 200-based Dalbury E. Running costs were claimed to be 2p a mile.
Erwin Hymer Group UK is perhaps better known to readers as Elddis and Compass, although it has recently dropped the latter brand. It is featured here because it is the most prolific converter of dealer specials. These offer a much higher spec than a standard Elddis or Compass, but are only available from specific dealers. Each dealer special provides different soft furnishings and spec.
Top for trophies
The UK’s most prolific winner of design awards is Murvi Motorcaravans – thanks, in the main, to the company’s Morello (pictured). This used to be based on the Fiat Ducato and Mercedes Sprinter, but Murvi is now increasingly behind the blue oval (Ford Transit).
It’s been in continuous production since the 1980s and retains its fine reputation – in fact, the Murvi Morello has also been inducted into the Practical Motorhome Hall of Fame too.
We’ve come full circle here to conclude with the very latest motorhome from Auto-Sleepers, the magnificent M-Star, which has just commenced production. Its campervan layout is similar to the company’s hugely popular Warwick XL, although, unlike the latter, it follows the three-pointed star (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter).
The standard spec is luxuriously comprehensive. Estimated price: £115,000.
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