Leeds-based Vantage will be very familiar to longstanding readers as serial Gold Standard winners in the annual Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards.
The campervan converter was started in early 2007 by experienced motorcaravanners and global travellers Scot and Jane Naylor.
Early conversions were on the X/250 high-top Peugeot Boxer panel van. All were in silver-grey coachwork with quality foil-wrapped cabinetwork and furniture, reflecting Scot’s experience as a highly regarded domestic and commercial furniture designer and manufacturer. All models converted during the founder’s watch also had dedicated two-berth interiors, with only the cab pews as travel seats.
First up was the long-wheelbase 5.99m (19’ 8”) Max, featuring twin inward-facing settees at the far rear. The nearside kitchen was linear and the wardrobe was located behind the driver’s seat, ahead of the washroom. Nothing exceptional in the layout, it was the quality of the build and the materials that set it apart.
Something that the best campervan will always offer is ingenious design details, and that’s certainly the case here. Features such as the rising 230V socket stack and the inclusion of many spacious drawers, reinforced the first impression that here was a motorcaravan designed by motorcaravanners.
Max was quickly followed by Sol, whose USP was that it provided longer settees – these could be converted into a brace of easy-access longitudinal single beds or a huge double.
Med is a shorter version of the Sol, and in 2010, the innovative Cub joined the line-up. Although the latter was just 5.413m (17’ 9”) long, the somnolent could sleep either in a double or in two single beds. Its wardrobe is half-height and loftily mounted, allowing for the offside occupant to rest their feet underneath in comfort.
The transverse kitchen is behind the front seats, cutting off cab-to-caravan walk-through. On the other hand, this meant that a double cab passenger seat could be specified, increasing the Cub’s flexibility as an ‘only vehicle’.
A couple of years after the original launch, customer demand for an automatic gearbox option precipitated the replacement of the Boxer with Fiat’s Ducato. In addition, Max became Sol and Max XL became Neo.
In 2013, the twin-settee Sol became Kos, and was given a U-shaped rear lounge with a large, boot-style storage compartment, which was accessed through the rear doors.
The 2013 October NEC show saw the unveiling of two extra-cost options, which many said ‘paid tribute to’ IH’s designs. First, a one-piece moulded rear panel with exterior access to the boot replacing the rear doors. Second, the side-sliding door being jettisoned in favour of a hinged and glazed Hartal one, plus an infill panel.
Significant changes in 2015 coincided with the launch of the X/290 Ducato. Vantage decided to offer the Citroën Relay and the Peugeot Boxer as alternatives. There were even bigger changes the following year, when the founders decided to step away from the business, which was taken over by Michael Hardicker of the Signature Motorhomes dealership.
Some owners worried whether the company ethos and stratospherically high standard of customer service would be maintained. They needn’t have – it has, and then some.
New models, such as the ultra-short 4.97m Lux and big-booted Eos, were introduced, along with a choice of coachwork colour… hooray!
A welcome refocus saw the 2020 launch of the multiberth Rio and the extra-high Sky. Both Rio and Sky feature four travel seats, with the latter adding an electrically operated dropdown double bed over the rear lounge. All continue except the Sky, which this motorcaravanner hopes will return on the 3850kg Maxi Ducato.
What to look out for in Vantage rear-lounge models
These are very reliable, but anything mechanical will wear, so keep some dosh in reserve for the inevitable replacements. ComfortMatic models should change gears without jerking, but it won’t be quite as silky-smooth as a torque converter automatic, which Fiat changed to a couple of years ago.
As always, research the integrity of the title and for any previous serious accident damage – use HPI or similar.
The tyres are likely to be past their use-by date, rather than lacking tread depth. A changing clutch bite-point is an early sign of slave cylinder failure.
Insist on a full habitation service and water-ingress report before signing on the dotted line.
Panel van conversions are less prone to leaks than some coachbuilts, but check around the windows anyway, and the ceiling underneath after-fit accessories, such as TV aerials (see our best motorhome TV aerial guide if you’re looking for one), satellite dishes and solar panels.
If you’re looking for an ‘only vehicle’, the Cub. Otherwise, Sol makes a good compromise, size-wise, and provides a generous payload.
All of these vehicles are practical and well thought out, but owners do tend to hang on to them, so buyers might have to settle for a second choice of model. Condition is everything here, and the age is less important.
What to pay for a Vantage rear-lounge model
None seen for under £40,000 since the pandemic. A good idea is to approach Vantage and ask for advance warning of any that are going to be traded in.
At the time of writing, they have a 2015 manual transmission Med with under 30,000 miles, at an asking price of £47,995. Price for a new one to the same spec would be £73,500 OTR.
After more pre-owned ‘van inspiration? Then take a look at our best used motorhome guide.
- Vantage rear-lounge ’vans. Conversions on Fiat Ducato/Peugeot Boxer/Citroën Relay
- Five-door all-steel (as standard) high-top panel van conversion
- Built 2007 onwards in Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
- Overall length: Lux 4.97m (16’ 3.75”) to Neo/Rio/Eos/Sky 6.36m (20’ 10.5”)
What we like about Vantage rear-lounge models
- Company ethos
- Highly regarded customer service
- Award-winning designs and unfussy, elegant interiors
- Varied and practical kitchen storage
- British made and well made
What we don’t like about Vantage rear-lounge models
- No automatic transmission option on Boxer and Relay
- No grab handles on locker and cupboard doors (easily remedied)
Alternatives to Vantage rear-lounge models
Vantage Neo S on Merc Sprinter (very rare). Front-lounge Vantage models, Gem, Vue and Ora. IH RL (rear-lounge) models on Fiat Ducato.
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