It took until the last day of the Spring Caravan and Camping show (19-24 February 2013) to unearth my favourite thing I’d seen all week: Bilbo’s Space campervan.
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It was tucked in the shadow of the (admittedly gorgeous) Westfalia Joker camper, and was very low-key to look at. And we’d received no pre-show press release – it was a gem I simply stumbled across.
The Space is a concept van for now, and the model on show was described as a prototype. Based on the VW T5 window van, it was completely unadorned from the outside, with no fancy graphics or holes cut into the steelwork for installation work, passing for a run of the mill commercial vehicle.
Raise Bilbo’s trademark side elevating roof, though, step onboard and it’s truly impressive. Not for any bells-and-whistles kit and equipment but for the simplicity and flexibility of its design.
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Instead of fixed furniture units, what you get are a number of removable pods that fit into the rear of the camper, and can be adapted to allow for different ways of using the van.
[tl:gallery index=2 size=208×277]There’s no gas installation work. Instead, there’s a kitchen pod, that comes with a couple of fresh water canisters behind a sliding tambour door, and a portable stove unit in a self-contained plastic box, with its own integral gas cylinder. There’s a pod that will house a portable potti toilet, and there’s a cool box pod. There are others too.
You simply mix and match the pods to your needs, and remove them when they’re not required. Run it as a working van during the week, and a camper at the weekend.
It offers the best of both worlds, and I love the idea. I’m delighted that Bilbo’s – an NCC approved converter with some 35 years of camper conversion know-how – has decided to throw its considerable ability at making motorcaravanning more flexible and affordable. I can’t wait to test a production-ready model.
Rob Ganley, editor, Practical Motorhome