Peter BaberSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Miscellaneous’ written by Peter Baber
Just a few weeks ago, we were at the Motorhome and Caravan Show at Birmingham's NEC checking out the latest additions to the motorhome market for the 2020 season.
Needless to say, the numerous halls of the show had plenty of new 'vans to look at, but here's a selection of the most exciting and innovative that we came across.
Nugget nuzzles in
One of the star attractions of this year's show was the arrival, after a great deal of anticipation, of the Ford Nugget on UK shores.
The raising-roof campervan includes a roof bed, an L-shaped kitchen, and a bed you make up downstairs from the rear travelling seats, which snuggles in partly under the kitchen.
Ford says the Nugget Plus, based on the longer-wheelbase L2 Transit Custom model and with a small washroom at the back, should be arriving here in the spring. But, despite being made by Westfalia, neither model will be available through UK Westfalia dealers. You'll have to go to your Ford dealer to check them out. Expect starting prices of between £56,000 and £58,000.
British beds in British 'vans
As well as presenting a long-wheelbase version of its four campervan models, the highlight on the Auto Campers stand was the new bed from British company Titan Beds, now being fitted in the van converter's line-up.
These move forward and back on slides, so you can bring them right up to the front if you are travelling with small children who need to be watched, or if you have a lot of luggage to carry. They also recline in several positions, so you can use them as day beds. Those who prefer Auto Campers' old transverse bed that sits on struts can still have this as an option instead.
Fleurette motorhomes have had a bit of a bumpy UK history in recent years, having been picked up enthusiastically and just as quickly dropped by Webbs.
But the French firm's relationship with Wandahome (South Cave) seems to be going well - so well, in fact, that the new Florium Wincester 75 LOFT model, on show on the dealer's stand, was developed in close co-operation between the two companies.
Those familiar with Bürstner's 744 'three rooms in one motorhome' layout will see similarities, although there are interesting alternatives, such as the L-shaped lounge on the offside, rather than the nearside, and integrated TV.
Pour les Anglais
Promised, but not yet ready for the market at the season launch this summer, Le Voyageur's latest new model, the first to have a UK-friendly rear lounge, was on display at the NEC.
The U-shaped lounge you'll find at the back of the LV7.8LU is extremely cosy, but at the same time, the main entrance area near the smart kitchen manages to feel airy, and provides very impressive headroom.
There's also a second half-dinette at the front of the 'van - before you reach the central washroom - with a handy clip-on table, and two single beds come down over the cab.
The Birchover has been a popular staple of Hillside's line-up for many years now. But the special edition Birchover Executive that was on show on the Derby company's stand is something else altogether.
It includes a fridge that slides open and a raising-roof with a highly innovative panoramic mesh window around three sides. Those lucky enough to sleep up here get a sprung mattress, as well.
A campervan for £88,000? That will do nicely, thanks!
Cornish van converter Ecowagon had on display its new Expo Plus, which features an improved spec, including a California-style bed, Vitronic triple charge system, an underslung gas tank, and clever innovations such as the external shower that comes out from the undercarriage, to avoid any danger of the 'van interior getting wet.
The model on the stand had some appealing extra spec, over and above what you would get on the standard £34,995 conversion, including smart leather upholstery, a 100Ah lithium battery and VA air suspension with auto-levelling.
This meant that, with the £40,300 VW T6 SWB Highline base vehicle with 150PSI engine and DSG automatic gearbox, the total price was £88,570. But it is a beautifully finished product.
New exhibitor Celtic Motorhomes was showing off its latest van conversion, based on the new VW Crafter.
Along with half-leather upholstery, a vinyl padded ceiling for extra warmth and a range of dimmable lights, the GT680 comes with an underslung gas tank, too.
The model on display (which cost £74,432) included a large lengthways fixed double bed, but the Caerphillly company says this could easily be changed to two single beds that come together to form a double.
The firm says it took so many orders at the show, it has already filled more than half of next year's schedule.
Time for an expedition
Shrewsbury-based Rolling Homes' latest model, on show for the first time at the NEC, is a four-wheel drive VW T6 conversion.
The Expedition's interior includes Corian work surfaces, eco-friendly sheep's wool insulation, a two-burner hob and a 50-litre fridge. The model on show (costing £79,791) also included Bilstein lifted suspension, a Milltek exhaust system, and an Alpine Halo 9 music system with four speakers.
This year, Italian manufacturer Rimor came to the NEC show with its new Evo range, so named to mark the line-up's historic development with Ford Transit-based vehicles.
The six-model range includes two overcabs - the Evo Sound, which can sleep seven thanks to corner bunks and a double dinette, and the Evo 5, which has a transverse bed tucked away at the back of the 'van.
The 69 Plus, shown here, is one of two low-profiles with an island bed. Much attention has been paid to the washrooms in this range, which can come with frosted porthole windows on the door and a rain shower.
Another big name
While the Ford Nugget, produced by Westfalia, was pulling in the punters elsewhere in the show, the NEC was also the UK debut for a new campervan produced under Westfalia's own name.
The James Cook - the latest in a long line of models named in honour of famous explorers - is based on the 190bhp Mercedes Sprinter.
With a 2m-long slide-out bed at the rear, it has three roof options, one of which provides a second 2m-long bed. Otherwise, you can opt for a harder roof shell made by Westfalia itself.
The company has also chosen to launch this new model with all-electric space heating, although the 'van still relies on an Eberspächer diesel heater for the provision of hot water.