The Bilbo’s Celex SE is far from a token effort – despite the lack of creature comforts included with the base vehicle, it’s a fully functional motorcaravan that will work just fine right out of the box.
Excellent quality and reliability
Lots of storage
Manual mirrors and windows
A grey interior
Bilbo’s interiors are solid, hard-wearing and impeccably put together, and the SE range doesn’t cut back on this tradition. Founder David Latham was adamant that the conversion be identical between SE and non-SE vehicles, so customers of the former can rest assured that cost-cutting measures stop at the base vehicle and that the habitation area is converted to Bilbo’s usual high standards.
Our only grouse is that Bilbo’s tends to go with the continental tradition of favouring automotive materials and durability over touchy-feely value. Everything is some shade of grey in there, which some may find unwelcoming. It’s hard to fault, though, when everything feels so solid and when Bilbo’s customers so frequently report that their campervans remain staunch against the tests of time and use.
The Celex’s side-lifting elevating roof creates a living area with an even high point with maximum headroom running the length of the ’van from rear of the cab seats, on the nearside. This means you never have to mind your head when entering the ’van, but the slope down towards the farside means that the roof can sometimes have a claustrophobic feel, particularly when you’re facing the kitchen unit. Bilbo’s offers a rear-hinged roof design as an £800 cost option if customers prefer this variety.
Space or water heaters aren’t included, so there’s enough space on the floor in the lounge area to safely accommodate a compact low-wattage space heater. These are inexpensive and easy to come by and will function perfectly well in all but the coldest weather conditions.
The Celex’s comprehensive kitchen takes up quite a bit of space and as a result the rear bench is fixed further back than some rivals, creating a large gulf between it and the cab seats. The small-ish lounge table isn’t a problem for those only looking to lounge in pairs, but it’s a bit tight for four. There’s a 12V socket and a three-pin socket in the kitchen area, and bright – if slightly cold – fluorescent lighting for the lounge area.
The Bilbo’s excellent lounge table uses a clip-on folding-leg table that fits into a rail running along the face of the kitchen unit – meaning that it can be repositioned very easily – and which stows behind the driver’s seat when not in use.
The oven/grill unit will be a major point in the Celex’s favour for a lot of buyers. It’s fully useable, albeit small, and when combined with the larger fresh water capacity and on-board waste water tank it makes the Celex a far more convenient prospect for touring chefs. The designers have even managed to incorporate decent amounts of storage in the kitchen– and there are several lockers throughout the vehicle that can provide additional room for pots, pans and ingredients. The fridge is a very effective Waeco compressor unit, with a 65-litrecapacity. The sink is of a good size, and the two-burner hob (without ignition) is well-located, too, with good amounts of room for cooking. There’s a splashguard, too, and if you pay £325 for the sliding window option, then the farside window can be opened in order to better ventilate the kitchen when cooking.
The Celex uses a bed mechanism where the seat back drops down forward of the seat base, meaning that you don’t have to remove the headrests before making up the bed, even though doing so is simple enough. In order to keep the bed level, the seat base itself is nearly completely flat, which makes for an excellent night’s sleep but does compromise comfort when travelling.
The Celex has one bright light on a flexible stalk located towards the head of the bed, which functions excellently as a night light, but we’d like to see two placed there so that both occupants can have independent reading lights.
There’s also the option of a roof bed, priced at £400. It’s a drop-down bed, hinged along the farside. Unfortunately, the mattress is thin and access to it is tight.
This is often an area of compromise when it comes to van conversions, but both this model bucks the trend. The Celex appears to lack even a square inch of wasted space, with cubby holes coming out of drawers coming out of lockers. Access has been carefully thought out, too; all the storage – even the rear boot area – is accessible without the user having to step outside of the ’van, and the lockers under the rear bench can be accessed from outside, via a sliding door.
|Shipping Length||4.89 m|