10/05/2016
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Britain’s best used motorhomes

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Vehicles that were popular when new usually make great used buys. But there are other pre-owned stars, too, including past award-winners and class-leaders. Here’s our round-up of models that were top in their time – and make great buys on the pre-owned market…

 

 

 

Adria TwinAdria Twin/Van Win

FROM £19,000     

  • Make and model: Adria Twin
Base vehicle Fiat Ducato panel van
  • Engines: 2.2-litre 100bhp, 2.3-litre 130bhp Length 5.99m (600 SP)
  • Gross weight: 3,300kg/3,500kg
  • Price when new: £27,222 (2004), £39,720 (2013)

Very much first among what has become a whole number of equals, Adria’s initial Twin (actually badged Van Win in its early days) was a big success across all of Europe. The design attempted (nay, managed) to put a permanent transverse bed at the back, still leaving just about enough room for all the facilities you’d expect in a proper motorhome.

That bed, too, wasn’t quite permanent, as there’s the facility to put its central slatted section to one side to give the Twin extra large-load-carrying flexibility. You could even make a third sleeping berth in the lounge, although this was rarely taken up by UK buyers.

Today, there’s a full range of Twins from Adria – with the 5.4m long 540 SPX the closest to the original in concept, while the now more popular 5.99m-long 600 SP is a crucial half a metre longer. Only the 600 SP has its sliding door on the UK side.

Versions on the wedge-nosed X2/44 Ducato (2007 onwards) start at about £26k but you might find an earlier Van Win on the older (shorter) Fiat for under £20k.

Can’t find a Twin? How about... Globecar’s Globescouts provided German-made equivalents to the Twin, with France’s Rapido and Pilote also having a dabble here.

Insurance Choice quote: £208.19

We found... Newark-based SMC Motorhomes (also the UK agent for Globecar) has a 2012 Twin with 18,542 miles and a 12-month warranty at £33,995, smcmotorhomes.co.uk

 

Autocruise StardreamAutocruise Stardream

FROM £25,000

  • Make and model: Autocruise Stardream
  • 
Base vehicle: Peugeot Boxer Al-Ko
  • Engines: 2.2-litre 120bhp, 3-litre 157bhp option
  • Length: 6.80m
  • Gross weight 3,500kg
  • Price when new: £41,995 (2008), £49,020 (2011)

The Stardream first saw light of day as one of a range of coachbuilts on the previous-generation Peugeot Boxer. But our attention here is on the version produced with the lowline Al-Ko chassis, easily recognised by its sleek overall height. It drove much better than taller rivals.

That was also when it blossomed into a capacious rear lounge two-berth, with that U-shaped seating converting to a generous double bed – or, even easier, two singles.

Generous was also the word to apply to a superbly equipped L-shaped kitchen, also with plenty of worktop space, as well as a larger-than-average washroom with separate shower cubicle.

Luxury for two was the theme. So, watch out for such niceties as full cookers with dual-fuel hobs and separate ovens and grills, large fridge/freezers with automatic energy selection and more. As ever, the specification increased as the Stardream neared the end of its life.

From 2007, Autocruise was taken over by Swift, who continued with the Stardream into the 2012 season. Most Swift-era Stardreams also came with a Lux Pack option that included cab air-conditioning, cruise control, reversing sensors, awning and roof rack and ladder.

Can’t find a Stardream? How about... Despite being shorter and taller, Auto-Sleepers’ Broadway EL Duo was always a close rival.

Insurance Choice Quote: £199.52

We found... Wellsbridge Motorhomes in Cambridgeshire has a 2007 Autocruise-built (ie non-Swift) example with the 120bhp engine at £29,995, wellsbridgemotorhomes.com Or compare the two 2007 examples at Motorhome Dealer Group (Three Counties Motorhomes and Countrywide Motorhomes), both on at £31,995, m-d-g.co.uk

 

Auto-Sleeper Warwick

FROM £29,995   

  • Make and model: Auto-Sleeper Warwick

  • Base vehicle: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engines: 2.2-litre 120bhp, 130bhp or 150bhp Length 5.99m (Duo), 6.36m (XL)
  • Gross weight: 3,500kg
  • Price when new: £38,750 (2008), £47,025 (2013)

You can’t help thinking even Auto-Sleepers has been more than pleasantly surprised by the success of the Warwick. Introduced when a rear lounge van conversion was seen as something of a gamble, back in 2007, it was the first ever Auto-Sleeper van conversion with a rear two-settee lounge. 

It used the Peugeot Boxer van with athermic glass windows (as opposed to the double-glazed acrylic units favoured by other converters) and was, of course, up to the usual Auto-Sleeper standards in terms of build and specification. That even included an ironing board on the original design!

Things kicked off when the 5.99m-long Warwick Duo emerged in 2008. This has been up at the top of the Auto-Sleeper van conversions sales table ever since – where its nearest rival is the Warwick XL, using the extra-long (6.36m) Boxer van. Crucially, there’s a key difference between the Duo and the XL mid-‘van, with the kitchen and washroom switching sides – the latter in the XL having space for a separate shower cubicle.

Can’t find a Warwick? How about... Warwick’s main rival has been the Rhythm from Autocruise. Auto-Trail’s V-Line 610 Sport and SE are too new to be common on the used market.

Insurance Choice Quote: £195.79

We found... Marquis Leisure, the retail arm of the Auto-Sleepers Group, has an ex-demonstrator 2016 XL at £49,995 – some £6,500 off the new price, marquisleisure.co.uk Oaktree Motorhomes has a 2008 Duo – 120bhp engine, 19,000 miles – for £31,995, omcmotorhomes.co.uk

 

Auto-Trail Tracker

FROM £17,500

  • Make and model: Auto-Trail Tracker

  • Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato
  • Engines: 2-litre 84bhp, 2.3-litre 130bhp
  • Length: 5.85m (previous-generation cab), 6.26m (EKS, 2011)
  • Gross weight: 3,500kg
  • Price when new: £27,999 (2000), £48,995 (EKS, 2011)

Back at the turn of the century, Auto-Trail announced a new baby – a micro-plus coachbuilt based on Fiat’s Scudo with an Al-Ko chassis extension, retailing for just under £28,000.

It didn’t take off, so it wasn’t long before Auto-Trail decided there was a great future for its Tracker – but on the bigger Fiat Ducato base. These are the ones to go for.

By 2008, Auto-Trail had already had almost 100 per cent success selling Trackers with SE Packs of selected options – offering sat-navs, CD/radios, flatscreen TVs, reversing cameras, recessed awning and more. Today the choice is Media Pack 1 or 2, the latter even including a satellite TV system.

Tracker simply grew and grew. For the 2013 season, the RB (island bed) joined the range – the biggest Tracker yet, at 7.60m long. But it’s the EKS that remains our favourite, offering all a couple could need (even a separate shower) in a compact body with a good-sized front lounge.

Can’t find a Tracker? How about... Leading British manufacturers excel at producing smaller coachbuilts with high levels of luxury. Obvious equivalents come from Auto-Sleepers (with its Nuevo) and Swift Group (Bessacarr, especially).

Insurance choice Quote: £190.65

We found... There’s no shortage of Auto-Trail agents around the country. There are 2007 and 2008 EKSs for £26,995 and £29,995 respectively at southern England’s Dolphin Motorhomes, dolphinmotorhomes.co.uk

 

Bürstner Argos A747-2G 

FROM £37,500   

  • Make and model: Bürstner Argos A747-2G
  • 
Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato Al-Ko
  • Engines: 3-litre 157bhp Length 8.86m
  • Gross weight: 5,000kg
  • Price when new: £44,415 (2002), £76,670 (2013)

Big and beautiful? We’re not arguing with one of those... the other is in the eye of the beholder. What is for sure, however, is this mighty overcab coachbuilt on a tag-axle chassis overcame lots of odds to prove amazingly popular here in the UK (something we predicted, making it the 2007 Motorhome of the Year).

A full six-berth (in fact, it can sleep seven if you really wish), this is a motorhome with major presence. It’s well over 3m tall, too.  Earlier 747s on the previous-generation Fiat cab lack the Argos name but can be found now from under £30k. The latest Fiat Ducato base came along in 2007, followed by some serious price hikes over the next few years – a particularly tricky time for the world economy, let alone the motorhome industry – but it didn’t seem to put off buyers.

Its Al-Ko chassis underpinnings mean it’s a far easier vehicle to drive than its dimensions might lead you to expect. That 3-litre engine was always considered the bees’ knees, too. If you can beat 20mpg you’ll be doing well, although engine remapping is always a consideration.

Alde heating and a double floor topped a sky-high specification for a vehicle that really was set up to cope with all weather extremes. As well as the extensive living space – it’s a huge front lounge, even with the cab cut off, thanks also to a super-comfy settee – there was also a mighty garage set under the double bed at the back (total payload hovers around the one-tonne mark). As you can guess, that overcab bed is pretty roomy, too. This really is a motorhome that’s got the lot.

Can’t find an Argos? How about... Few can match the scale of tag-axle overcab coachbuilt motorhome offered by the Argos but you might want to check out the Dethleffs Esprit A7870-2.

Insurance Choice Quote: £243.85

We found... Becks Motorhomes, in Norfolk, has a 2007 model at £44,995, becksmotorhomes.com

 

Hymer B544

FROM £10,000   

  • Make and model: Hymer B-Class
544
  • Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato chassis-cowl
  • Engines: 2.5-litre 102bhp and 2.8-litre 127bhp; 2.3-litre 130bhp and 150bhp, 3-litre 177bhp
  • Length: 5.64m, 6.07m, 6.55m
  • Gross weight: 3,500kg
  • Price when new: £40,451 (1998), £64,890 (2013)

Few motorhomes, if any, can match the sheer pedigree of a Hymer B-Class. But there’s one model in particular that’s struck our hearts here in the UK – the B544. Not only is this a seriously well-built motorhome, it also has the kind of layout that held particular appeal for our home audience – the huge majority of whom motorhome as couples.

A comfortable double bed pulled down into place from the overcab area. The huge lounge (firstly with pullman dinette and side settee, later with L-shaped and straight settees) – extending right into the cab – is large enough to host a party. 

1986 saw the first B544, on a Fiat Ducato chassis-cowl, and by the mid-2000s, it was consistently topping the Hymer UK sales charts. 2011 heralded a new shape, with a particularly upright front end that proved controversial – although it’s fair to say we’ve grown to accept it. Aerodynamics had gone out the window, in favour of optimising interior space and the ergonomics of that cab bed.

Equipment levels were never that high, but it was the sheer quality that people appreciated, especially Hymer’s unique PUAL bodywork construction. Nevertheless, added equipment is something that Hymer has sought to address over recent years – offering an ever-increasing (and sometimes bewildering) lists of optional extras.

Now with a UK network of nine dealers, the Hymer story rumbles on in the UK, as indeed does the B544 – now in more upmarket PremiumLine format. Models from the 1990s offer great value today, while those around 2007-8 hit a low spot in normally unimpeachable Hymer quality. Newer models have grown, in length as well as spec, while early versions were sub-6m.

Can’t find a Hymer B544? How about... In its earliest days here in the UK, the B544 had but one serious rival – Pilote. Today, seek out Rapido’s 9048dF for the nearest thing to the B544’s floorplan.

Insurance Choice Quote: £219.29


We found... There’s a 2012, one owner, 10,000-mile example for £54,995 at Oaktree Motorhomes, omcmotorhomes.co.uk but we found privately advertised examples as low as £7,995 for a tidy 1990 example

 

Knaus Sun TiKnaus Sun Ti 650 MF

FROM £27,000    

  • Make and model: Knaus Sun Ti 650 MF

  • Base vehicle: Renault Master (2005-2009)
  • Engines: 2.5-litre 120bhp, 3-litre 150bhp Length 6.86m 
  • Gross weight: 3,500kg
  • Price when new: £43,092 (2005)

This was the first of the modern breed of low-profiles, complete with big overcab sunroof. It set a pattern that others are still following today. Canny Knaus saw the imminent change of Fiat Ducato base vehicle and – in 2005 – adopted the Renault Master for a well-equipped low-profile that espoused the usual quality German manufacturing credentials. At 2.65m high, it had a particularly sleek look, too, that was enhanced by the coloured sides, helping towards an appearance that still seems contemporary some 10 years on.

It was the specification, overall quality and splash of sheer style that helped the Sun Ti become a real favourite in the UK. Equipment such as a flatscreen TV which lowered from the ceiling helped give it a real edge. It was also the first winner of the Motorhome of the Year award from our sister mag, MMM.

Can’t find a Sun Ti? How about... Bürstner’s Delfin used the Renault Master base and was a direct competitor.

Insurance Choice Quote: £225.80


We found... Derbyshire’s Peak Motorhomes has a 2007 example at £29,995, peakmotorhomes.co.uk

 

VW California

FROM £32,500

  • Make and model: Volkswagen California

  • Base vehicle: Volkswagen Transporter T5
  • Engines: 2.5-litre 130bhp/174bhp, 2-litre 138bhp/177bhp
  • Length: 4.89m
  • Gross weight: 3,000kg
  • Price when new: From £35,245 (2007), £36,650 (2010)

Iconic, certainly. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to get to view one of these – let alone be in a position to put in an offer for one – you know you’re onto a good thing. Earlier Californias were produced by Westfalia, but it was when Volkswagen introduced the T5 version of its Transporter that it decided to produce the California in its own right, too.

Actually built on a hybrid of the Caravelle people-carrier and the T5 van, the California was always going to have a superior specification
to the vans VW offered to other specialist companies for converting into campers. As you might expect, too, there’s also an automotive quality to the whole vehicle.

Indeed, throughout its time, the camper side of things has stayed pretty much the same: electric rising roof, programmable diesel heating system, top-loading fridge, double-glazed rear windows, etc, with plenty of clever touches like the storage points for the table and chairs for outside use. 

The rear seating, although fairly easy to convert into a bed, was extra firm, so it was the double in the roof that was often the chosen sleeping location for couples.

Downsides? The sliding door – and the conversion itself – was never switched to right-hand drive. And, strangely, Volkswagen has never considered adding a long-wheelbase version – leaving rivals to cash in with campers that are still as joyful to drive, but offer just that bit more living and storage space.

2010 saw a facelift for the T5 – sometimes dubbed the T5.5 – with the arrival of more refined 2-litre diesel engines and a smoother DSG automatic transmission option.

Can’t find a California? How about... Our favourite VWs are from Bilbo’s, or if you want a sliding seat system, CMC Reimo.

Insurance Choice Quote: £189.63

We found... VW Campersales is the UK’s leading independent specialist retailer for pre-owned Californias. Nevertheless, even we were surprised to see seven examples at its West Sussex premises at the start of the year – ranging in price from £45,950 to £47,950, vwcampersales.com

 

INSURANCE CHOICE QUOTES

The insurance figures quoted by Insurance Choice are based on a male policyholder aged 59 having owned the ’van for one year and driving 3,000 miles a year with one SP30 conviction in July 2015. The motorhome to be parked on a drive at an EX14 postcode with a value of £25,000. Subject to policy terms and conditions.

 

This full version of this feature covers 22 used motorhomes and can be found by ordering the May back issue of What Motorhome.

 

 

 

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