For couples with one able-bodied traveller it’s a great blend of pukka base vehicle and cosy camper that either could drive. For lone wheelchair-dependent motorcaravanners, it’s a work in progress.
For the latest updates on the Panorama elevating-roof campervan, see the GM Coachworks and Transformation Camper Conversions website. This van conversion company is based in Teign Valley, Newton Abbot, Devon.
Fantastic lift for wheelchair access
A wheelchair user can drive the camper unaided
Flexible seating allows space for wheelchair inside
Budget version is available if a pre-owned van is used as the base vehicle
An able bodied person will be needed to set up the bed
The prototype we tested was incomplete
It would be difficult to raise the roof from a wheelchair without help
GM Coachwork and Transformation Camper Conversions’ Panorama is based on its drive-from-wheelchair conversion of the VW Transporter T5 Caravelle. The habitation side was built by Transformation Camper Conversions (TCC).
This prototype was a new camper conversion on a pre-owned, specially-adapted vehicle. Newton Abbot-based GM Coachwork and Transformation Camper Conversions is offering factory-fresh examples from £65,200. For those of more modest means, however, a new camper conversion on a specially-selected pre-owned base vehicle is available from £35,000 and has the same residential specification as factory-fresh. Judging by the 2008 demonstrator this will be a good way to go.
My on-site camping neighbours were astounded when I deployed the lift – the adaptions really are that integrated
There is a reason why this traditional VW campervan layout survived the base vehicle’s transition from rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive T3 to front-engine, front-wheel-drive T4 and now T5. It is that it offers uncluttered floor space in the main salon and enables one motorcaravanner to move around the vehicle without disturbing the other(s).
TCC has included clever design touches and the overall cabinetwork finish in the demonstrator model was good. However, despite the specification sheet indicating they should be present, there was no leisure battery, alternator and 230V charging system, or a consumer unit on the demonstrator, so these couldn’t be assessed. There was a single 30ma MCB on the 230V supply but no earth leakage circuit breaker or polarity indicator.
The lounge will be familiar to anyone who’s been in a traditional VW campervan, and it will suit wheelchair users because it offers open floor space in the main lounge area. In this camper, however, the dining table folds into three for easy storage, so you can get it right out of the way when you need more floor space.
A very useful cost-option to add to the basic specification is flexible seating. It’s a six-way power transfer seat that moves in different directions, adjusts for height and swivels through 90 degrees to allow easier transfer from wheelchair to seat.
On top of that, there’s a moveable transverse pole at head height that you can use as a grab rail to get from a wheelchair to the seating or bed.
The fold-down kitchen allows space for wheelchair manoeuvring. The work surfaces are balcony ones so that the wheelchair user doesn’t have to sit side-saddle. Full marks awarded here.
There’s a 12V top-access fridge on board that allows easy retrieval of comestibles and won’t lose its cool every time the lid is opened. There’s also a grey gas ‘locker’ containing two single-use canisters, located next to the 12-litre water porter in the kitchen base unit.
There is no washroom, but the Porta Potti slides out on a rack from its dedicated cupboard under the rear bench seat. We’re not sure how much weight the little loo might take if it is used in situ.
The rear seat quickly and easily converts into a double bed, if you are an able-bodied motorcaravanner, and the resulting bed has no ridges. It measures 1.91m x 1.175m (6’3″ x 3’10.25″).
The payload is 384kg and as with any campervan it’s best if you can avoid taking unnecessary kit. There is a reasonable sized cupboard that you’d expect to be a wardrobe, but this one lacked shelves, hooks and/or a hanging rail, so it was difficult to be sure.