Recently there has been a lot of interest in the new Swift Monza and Auto-Sleeper Air, both elevating-roof conversions of Ford’s Transit Custom. However, Wellhouse Leisure is already well ahead of the game and has been converting the Custom in significant numbers for nearly a decade.
I’ve known David Elliott, the driving force (sorry!) behind Wellhouse Leisure for more than 26 years (since they were Deepcar Motorhomes International), and have huge respect for his firm’s ethos and products.
Their Transit Custom conversions are exemplary, so it is really no surprise they have built so many of them, that they all arrive with full European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval and NCC approval, and that the company has Ford’s QVM (Qualified Vehicle Modifier) status.
Wellhouse Leisure was already widely recognised as a top converter of imported pre-owned Japanese people carriers and of the new Hyundai i800, when it decided to turn its attention to the Transit Custom, with the first model rolling off the line in 2013.
The original offer was monikered Terrier, and more recently Misano. Most were on the short-wheelbase variant, fitted with a rear-hinged elevating-roof enabling full standing height when onsite. For the same money, purchasers could opt for a Ford factory-fitted high-top. A foldaway double roof bed was also available, but this time at extra cost.
The traditional campervan layout sees an offside run of kitchen base units and a rear-corner wardrobe. The top-tackle rock-n-roll seat bed was fully crash-tested (in vehicle), ergonomically designed and converted in a jiffy. It has pews for three and complements the European-style high-gloss cabinetwork perfectly.
Standard spec was usually Tourneo and occasionally Trend. Motive power initially featured Ford’s 2.2-litre 128bhp Euro 5 TDCI engine, which was replaced by a Euro 6 2.0-litre EcoBlue unit, with power upgrades and automatic transmission available.
In fact, if it was on the Ford options list, the original buyer could specify it, including Sport, Super Sport and M-Sport variants. In response to customer demand, some were built on pre-owned vans.
The best campervans all have a carefully thought out spec, and that’s certainly the case here, with everything one might need and no fripperies at all. ‘Fit for purpose’ and then some.
A two-burner hob, grill, compressor fridge, hook-up, solar panel, water tanks, blown-air heating and task LED lighting were all there from the off, with further additions being made as fixtures and fittings evolved.
The Lux XL was – as the name might suggest – built on the long-wheelbase Custom and featured a selection of different layouts. These included a brace of face-forward rear travel seats that formed two easily accessed single beds, nearside-rear kitchen and offside- rear cassette toilet. A privacy screen divides this from the main salon.
Interestingly, the Lux XL is available with a Ford high-top (2.3m/7’ 6.75”) or a roomier (and to these eyes more stylish) Wellhouse one (2.6m/8’ 6.5”).
The Tellaro derivative of the Lux XL provides a long inward-facing settee forward – which converts to a double bed – plus a dedicated compartment for the toilet at the rear.
Ford spent a long time developing the Custom base and it was pretty much spot-on from its inception. The only real change has been the engine in late 2016, and a new grille, along with an updated dashboard and instrument nacelle, in early 2018.
What to look out for in the Wellhouse Leisure conversions of the Ford Transit Custom
Euro 5 models have the tried and tested Puma engine, with no Achilles heel at all. Just insist on a full service history and a long MoT.
Euro 6 vehicles have more torque and better performance, and emit fewer nasties, but there were reports of fuel injector failure on early models.
Tell-tale signs of this problem are excessive exhaust smoke on start-up and/or the engine management warning light illuminating.
That said, Ford did provide free replacements, so most should be fine. However, it wasn’t a DVSA safety recall, so a few not serviced by main dealerships might still have slipped through the net.
These ’vans are thoughtfully assembled using quality fixtures and fittings, so they should be fault-free.
On elevating-roof vehicles, check the canvas for mildew (a result of it being closed when damp), and for smooth deployment and lowering. A recent habitation service is a must, and you should also carefully examine the gas cylinder to regulator piping.
Finally, just make sure it is a genuine Wellhouse. If in any doubt, contact the manufacturers with the registration number and they will verify the ’van’s authenticity. Unfortunately, folk have been known to advertise online, as the real deal, what is obviously not a Wellhouse Terrier conversion.
- As your only vehicle: Terrier/Misano with elevating-roof – based on an M-Sport in our dreams!
- For extended journeys: Tellaro Lux XL with a Wellhouse high-top and automatic transmission.
What to pay
North of £30,000. If you have a pre-owned base vehicle, another option is for Wellhouse to convert it – a good way to go, saving a lot of money on ‘new-new’.
Or you could try…
Wellhouse conversions of the Toyota Granvia/Alphard, or Hyundai i800. Devon Firefly on Transit Custom.
- Wellhouse Leisure conversions of SWB and LWB Ford Transit Custom
- Built 2013-present in Huddersfield, then Barnsley, South Yorkshire
- Elevating-roof and high-top panel van conversion
- Overall length: SWB 4.97m (16’ 3.75”); LWB 5.34m (17’ 6.25”)
What we like about the Wellhouse Leisure conversions of the Ford Transit Custom
- Good compromise sizewise
- Practical and stylish conversion
- Ford spares availability and low running costs
- Suitable for use as only vehicle
What we don’t like about the Wellhouse Leisure conversions of the Ford Transit Custom
- No automatic transmission option available on early models
You can also find out more about the different converters out there in our guide to the best campervan converters.
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