Spotlight on... Chapel Motorhomes
Chapel Motorhomes is a unique converter, specialising in building micro campervans that can still be used as five-seater everyday MPVs. Campervan magazine spoke to Chapel Motorhomes Company Director, Vincent Webb, to find out more…
1. When did Chapel Motorhomes start out?
Chapel Motorhomes was founded over 10 years ago in a small lock-up garage in Eastbourne and has grown steadily to the point of having to move to much larger premises. We started out doing conversions on the slightly larger Mercedes Vito and Vauxhall Vivaro, but quickly discovered that few converters concentrated on the micro camper sector, which is what we specialise in now.
2. What sets you apart from the crowd?
We believe ourselves to be the only converter in the country that make a single or double-berth conversion of this particular style (which features removable furniture) on the Citroën Berlingo or Peugeot Partner. We like to be different, and that goes for our VW Caddy, too. As we’ve noticed that others offer a similar conversion to our Nissan NV200, we’re looking at changing this in the future.
3. How has the brand evolved over the years?
We listen to our customers’ opinions and experiences of what could be made better or more usable, and will adapt a conversion as necessary. There have been quite a few modifications over the years in order to continuously improve our product. We’ve also invested in a CNC machine to cut out our furniture, so precision is second to none and we strive to get a near-perfect finish every time. Everything is made in- house, including all the upholstery and curtains, too.
We now make our own elevating roofs for the Berlingo and have adapted them so you can have roof bars and a top box. Also, the development of the front swivel seats, which have been M1 pull tested, have been very popular.
How would you sum up the company’s ethos and values?
Over the years we have learnt that customer satisfaction is of paramount importance, as I think word of mouth has been our greatest advertising tool. It’s also a good feeling to know that most of the vehicles we use for our conversions have a low emissions impact on the environment. The current BlueHDI engines will do between 50 and 60mpg and the road tax can be as low as £20 a year. We also offer a no-quibble six-month warranty on all the campervans we sell, which is covered by us, not a third-party company.
Why do you think it is that micro campers are so popular nowadays?
I think they’re increasing in popularity these days because they can be used as an everyday car, as opposed to having a larger motorhome sitting on the driveway for long periods of time. The bonus with our conversions is the fact that everything can be unbolted in a few minutes, and the original rear seats clipped back into position, turning it back into an everyday five-seater car again.
What makes a great campervan conversion?
I think it comes down to the usability of what you have, and also how it looks. If you’re away in a campervan and you have everything around you that you need but, aesthetically, it doesn’t look nice then that will have a bearing on your trip away. It’s a bit like staying in a bad hotel!
Have you got any exciting new developments in the pipeline?
We’re designing a single and double bed conversion for the latest shape Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot partner, including an elevating roof and front swivel seats. This is proving quite challenging, as it is a completely different design from the older model. However, I haven’t seen any others converted yet, so ours could be a first!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a campervan?
Our advice is always to do your research, and go and view lots of different types of camper before committing to buy. It may be an obvious thing to say but I have had a few cases of customers coming to us, saying they wished they had come to us first, before buying a bigger campervan or motorhome.
What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked by one of your customers?
The most bizarre request we’ve had was to fit an oven and a shower into a micro camper, along with the usual conversion we do. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can squeeze into a car, so I’m not sure where we would have put it…
What’s the best campervan trip you’ve personally been on?
I must admit, before I got into doing the conversions, I was baffled at why people would want to go and sit in a field in a campervan doing nothing. It seemed it would be so boring! However, I did try it and took a camper to the Isle of Wight. It turned out to be one of the best holidays ever, and it was very peaceful and relaxing. The other campervanners we met were so friendly, too.
The Chapel Motorhomes model range
Our micro campers offer the perfect combination of an everyday five-seater car that doubles as an ideal campervan for weekends away. We build bespoke conversions and can design a campervan to your own specifications. These can be designed around a variety of small MPVs – the most popular being the Citroën Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Nissan NV200 and the VW Caddy Maxi – and we can offer new or second-hand base vehicles. All can be converted to either a single or double berth, with a variety of different finishes and designs.
The single berth campervan
Included in the package for a single-berth conversion is a Dometic one-burner gas hob (a twin hob can be fitted, if desired) and sink combination unit with electric tap, and on-board fresh and waste water tanks. There’s 230V electric hook-up with twin internal sockets with USB points, a split charging system, and a 75Ah leisure battery with a 12V outlet for charging phones, laptops, etc. It’s also possible to have a 50-litre fridge with freezer compartment, a Thetford Porta Potti, a free-standing table that can also be used outside, an awning, and an inflatable mattress.
The conversion comes with new upholstery, cushions, flooring and double-lined all-round black-out curtains. The bed is easily made up (in under a minute!) and can be left up while driving. There’s plenty of storage under the bench seating, and more at the rear, accessed from the back of the campervan. Best of all, all the units can be taken out and the original seats refitted, turning the camper back into a five-seater MPV.
The double berth campervan
The two-person version is similar to the single berth, being available on the same models of MPV base vehicle. The main difference is that, here, you get a double bed that is said to measure 7ft 2in long by 4ft 10in wide, which can be made up in under three minutes. The bed boards are stored in the roof box, and the bench seats can be removed, leaving the kitchen unit in place at the back of the campervan, so that the original seats can be refitted in order to turn it back into a five-seater MPV.
In addition to the standard features of the single conversion, the double-berth model benefits from having a two-burner Dometic gas hob, a Thetford Porta Potti, a single/double inflatable mattress, a lockable 420-litre top box, and a 2m by 2m driveaway awning with integrated groundsheet.
Unit 6, Mays Farm, Lower Wicks Street, Selmeston, East Sussex BN26 6TS
Tel: 01323 811455/07818 51643