08/02/2024
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Britain’s best used motorhomes

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When we were asked to compile our list of Britain’s best used motorhomes for the coming season, we almost groaned

That’s because there’s simply so much choice available. Consider the 1,200-plus models available to buy each year with detail or major changes form one year to the next.

That means that you could have a 2016 example that’s seen significant changes to its previous 2015 example; key features that you like from the previous model might have been dropped for new ‘improvements’ or vice versa, and older versions may not offer the features you’ve seen in a newer secondhand motorhome for sale.

That being said, there are a few models out there that have stood the test of updates and base vehicle changes, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

What’s important to look out for is our previous award winners. Rapido has consistently appeared in the fixed double bed category over the years, while Chausson and Bürstner are both really strong in compact categories or those with drop-down beds as the main feature.

So, let’s take these categories one at a time, looking at standout secondhand motorhomes and campervans for sale, and general advice for each to help you pick the best motorhomes to buy used.

Page contents

Words by Rachel Scholes, Deputy Editor of MMM magazine

 


Used pop-top campervans for sale

VW California

VW California Beach (photo courtesy of Camper UK)

While this market still seems to be dominated by used Volkswagen campervans, we’ve been shouting about the benefits of other base vehicles such as Ford (Transit Custom) and Renault (Trafic) for a while. And that stacks up as we’ve highlighted Ford-based models from Wellhouse, Auto-Campers, Danbury and Swift in the past.

There’s two key layouts for pop-top campervans – the extremely popular side kitchen/rear bench seat model that’s great for families and if you like more floor space, or rear kitchen models that are worth considering for some couples that need single beds, but can also offer built-in toilets.

Brands that have been in this market for a while, such as Bilbo’s, CMC (Concept Multi-Car) and Hillside are a good starting point for a used campervan search, as you are more likely to be able to find one for sale.

Obviously, you can’t ignore one of the most important pop-top campervans, the VW California. Originally built for VW by Westfalia, the car maker took production back in house with the T5. In fact, it celebrated the 200,000th campervan to leave its production line in 2023. Yes, demand for used Californias remains strong, but because of the number sold, there should be a good choice available and nothing else will match its spec.

In your search in this market, you will come across a lot of unbranded campervans, one-off conversions or small firms producing a few a year. Only you will be able to decide if these are worth the money being asked, but check the gas, water and electrical installations, looking for the use of recognised brands for the fittings.

Also research the rear seat and seatbelt installations for testing and approvals. If in doubt, ask an expert for a report on these aspects.


Used large campervans for sale

Adria Twin 640 SLX

2020 Adria Twin 640 SLX (photo courtesy of Emm Bee Motorhomes)

This is too broad a category for just one search, but there’s a couple of key questions that will help narrow down your search for a used large campervan, and it’s good to know that there’s a big choice in terms of base vehicles, too.

For a quick overview, the Fiat Ducato is quite an old chassis and although it has modern engines and gearbox options, many people reckon the driving experience is better in the Ford Transit, as well as the more expensive Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter/MAN TGE.

However, it’s also important to note that the Fiat has squarer sides and is easier to convert, meaning there’s a little more width inside – that’s important if you are tall and want to sleep across the campervan or motorhome, not lengthways.

What’s also good is that automatic gearboxes are now more widely available. You will pay a little more for such models, but that’s because they are in demand.

The other important decision is about the sleeping arrangements – if sleeping comfort is more of a priority than oodles of living space, then you’ll need a fixed bed motorhome. Just like coachbuilt motorhomes, there is now a plethora of bed options – a fixed double running across the rear, lengthways singles, a lengthways double and even bunk beds.

Plus, the idea of large campervans with pop-tops and roof beds has also been around for a few years, with many manufacturers offering these as an option. That does mean that some may be making their way onto the used campervan scene – that roof bed is bigger than on smaller campervans and can suit growing kids or even adults.

In terms of fixed bed models, the most common is likely to be the Adria Twin, one of the first of its type to be sold in any numbers, especially in the UK. Westfalia is also another more well-known brand, but used Westfalia campervans don’t hang around for long, so you might have to hunt around for one.

Knaus, Dreamer and Malibu are other brands that consistently impress us with its campervan designs, but again, there may not be a massive used choice for sale.

If you are happy to make seats into bed at night, then most of the used large campervans you’ll be looking at will be British – the rear lounge campervan seems to have been making inroads into European manufacturers' line-ups recently, but it might take a while for these to filter into secondhand motorhomes.

Auto-Sleepers has been making campervans for donkey’s years, with the older ones standing the test of time – even if the fabrics and velour may not be to your taste. And this is possibly one of the widest available price ranges from under £20k to over £70k for nearly new models.

IH and Murvi are also known for models without fixed beds, with very different customer bases. Again, the demand for these mean you may have to search for longer for a secondhand campervan (most likely to be found back with their converter), but it speaks a lot for both these companies that customers return time and again.


Used double bed motorhomes for sale

Bailey Adamo

2021 Bailey Adamo 75-4 I (photo courtesy of Tyne Valley Motorhomes)

Again, this is a category that needs breaking down.

Transverse double bed motorhomes are often more compact with good storage below; however, the sleeper at the very back does have access issues if there are night-time loo visits required.

French beds can offer a bed that’s generally lower, but this impacts on storage below and the cutaway for access to the washroom can be severe and impact one sleeper.

Island beds can also suffer from rounded corners and maybe height, access or storage issues – also look at the gap between washroom walls and the mattress, especially if the bed slides or there is an extension to make the bed longer at night.

That’s a really abridged version of our advice on our layouts guide, so take a read of this in full for more help defining your ideal layout.

So, what would be our picks?

Well, it seems that Rapido consistently picks up gongs for its French bed and island bed models. While fixed beds take up a lot of room, Rapido’s designs seem to make the most of the available space, offering fewer compromises for the other areas (washroom, kitchen and lounge).

Knaus has also impressed us over the years with its double bed motorhomes, with simple stylish design and neat features, with a few wins in our annual awards as well as a few special mentions.

There’s too many other brands to mention here, but if you need any more help then contact us for more tailored advice.


Used single bed motorhomes for sale

Hymer MLT

2018 Hymer ML-T 570 60th Edition (photo courtesy of SMC)

Weirdly, there’s only a couple of types of this sort of fixed bed motorhome with singles running lengthways. Choose from low level (easy access, less storage below), high level (check out the steps and headroom when in bed) or models with a full-width washroom at the very back (beds are low level).

What’s key here is the bed length. Carry a tape measure or just lie in them and have a wriggle when viewing motorhomes. Walls at either end of the bed won’t allow you to dangle your feet and can feel quite confined.

What can we say about used motorhomes with single beds? Well, there will be a lot of choice for most budgets as this layout has been around for years, especially with German brands.

Check bed bases under the singles; some come with solid boards that don’t breathe properly and can cause condensation and damp mattresses.

Also, many of these motorhomes with a large storage space under the beds may suffer from payload issues as previous owners added kit or ordered with lots of extras. This is especially prevalent on used motorhomes with a max weight of 3.5 tonnes, so get a recent weighbridge certificate or be prepared to increase the gross vehicle weight if you plan to carry more stuff in that garage.

Whether you want a motorhome just for the two of you, or maybe occasional trips with the grandkids, or even for family adventures, we’re pretty sure it should be relatively easy to find a secondhand motorhome for sale with single beds.

Recently, Pilote, Rapido, Hymer and Adria have all won this category in our annual awards, but not all single beds were created equal, so this is possibly one of the most difficult used motorhome layouts to buy. The devil is in the detail – so create a list of must-have features and narrow it down from there.


Used family motorhomes for sale

Benimar Mileo 323

2019 Benimar Mileo 323 (photo courtesy of Marquis)

There are two key layouts that have instant appeal to families: motorhomes with bunk beds and motorhomes sporting two lounges.

You can look at other layouts, if there are enough comfy beds and belts for your family, but these here offer significant benefit.

Bunks generally mean that the kids have their own sleeping area, away from the lounge, so you can put the little ones to bed and still have a lounge to relax in. The same goes for twin lounges. However, this does also mean that generally, the grown-ups have to make a bed from lounge seats (although it’s possible to find twin lounge layouts with either one or two drop-down beds).

On the used motorhome market, those properly used by families (or released from hire fleets) may show more wear and tear and you might have to factor in the costs of replacement mattresses or cushions or mattress toppers for bed comfort.

Also, actual payload needs to be carefully studied – previous owners of family motorhomes may have added bike racks, solar panels, satellite systems, for example, and travelling fully loaded with all the kit the kids might need on a family motorhome holiday, could be close or over the gross vehicle weight.

If you need to know more about payload, read this helpful guide.

Value-for-money brand Rimor may suit those with lesser budgets, while Itineo has also produced some interesting, well-thought-out family layouts, with the SB740 model offering a great child’s bedroom with small seating area built in, although this French company has a small presence in the UK, so finding this exact model may be a challenge.

While British motorhomes excel at twin lounge layouts, Bailey's Approach 765 was one of the first to build in a drop-down bed to this floorplan. On the flip side, Bürstner’s twin lounge motorhome offers something different and rather stylish.


Used compact motorhomes for sale

Chausson compact motorhome

2017 Chausson Welcome 610 (photo courtesy of SMC)

Here we’re talking about the shorter motorhomes and the narrower options – models that seem to now be competing with larger campervans.

The benefits seem to be about better insulation (versus a campervan), the more useful interior space that comes with squarer-sided body construction, yet in a motorhome that is great for narrow lanes, smaller car parks, more compact pitches and general about town driving.

While compact motorhomes come in many forms, the number one layout features a big front lounge, end kitchen and washroom of some sort and a drop-down bed offering fixed bed comfort but in a much smaller package.

The great news is that these models have been enjoying a massive rise in popularity, with the first versions appearing back in 2011.

While one of the first of this type was a Bürstner (Ixeo Time 585), Chausson, Pilote, Benimar, Adria and more all offer the layout. It is notable that Bürstner and Chausson (Best of 10, 510, 610 and 640) regularly compete for our attention, when it comes to awards for this category.

Obviously, there are also compact models without the drop-down bed and these have been around since almost the dawn of motorhomes and are still around today. Plenty of choice, then no matter what your budget. As you need to make up seats into beds, a memory foam mattress topper of some sort would be a great investment for a sound night’s sleep.

Also look at compact models with a fixed transverse double bed at the rear if garage space for bikes, etc, is important to you.


Used rear lounge motorhomes for sale

Burstner Lyseo Harmony

2019 Bürstner Lyseo TD Harmony Line 744 (photo courtesy of Choose Leisure)

The rear lounge is all about a big relaxing area. It’s another layout that’s been around forever.

However, if you are looking for a used rear lounge motorhome at the more budget end, be aware that quite a few came with a moulding over the cab (known as an ‘overcab’ here in the UK) that offered an extra bed. Technically a four-berth, many would only come with belted seats in the cab, so they should only be used to travel two.

While this seems weird, motorhomers do like this as they can choose to sleep over the cab (access is via a ladder) and leave the lounge for relaxing. Or you can use the bed for storing lightweight bulky items, like your bedding, but make sure you have a retaining net for travelling.

The rear lounge will usually convert into a double bed – our preferred way is by pulling seat bases together to meet in the middle, but some have slats that pull out from the central rearmost seat section (fiddly and can get tangled when the slats are pushed away).

Also note that L-shaped sofa sections were popular, but the bed make-up for these models can be more complicated. The best option is to be able to sleep lengthways on the sofas as single beds, but not all lounges are long enough to allow this.

The bulk of used rear lounge motorhomes will be British, but this layout does seem to have been gaining inroads into the European market with manufacturers offering the odd option here and there. Frankia, for example, has had rear lounges in its line-up for a while and these were always classed as luxury models, so one of these on the secondhand motorhome market would likely be a good find.

Adria and Bürstner have also featured rear lounges in the past, if you wanted something a little more European than the British counterparts. Both have garnered awards for such layouts.

Another notable award winner was Bailey (with its Approach SE 625), which entered the motorhome market with a range of wider-than-normal motorhomes – these 2.5m-wide models offered unparalleled levels of interior space, but if you are new to motorhomes, make sure you are happy drivng something this wide.

For reference, most are around 2.3m wide, while as already mentioned in the compact section, they can go as narrow as 2.05m. Since then Bailey has continued to offer a rear lounge layout, so you should be able to find a good choice of these.


Used A-class and luxury motorhomes for sale

Laika Kreos 7009

 2017 Laika Kreos 7009 (photo courtesy of Southdowns)

When new, luxury motorhomes can be eye-watering, but on the secondhand motorhome scene, the price could be almost affordable. Many luxury motorhomes will have been ordered from the factory with long lists of options, so not only will you get a more opulent motorhome, you may get features you weren’t expecting.

And, since the buyers of these motorhomes are generally insulated from any market turbulence, there’s been a steady flow of such models onto dealer forecourts and website listings.

So even if your budget is lower, brands like Niesmann+Bischoff, Concorde and Carthago have been sold in the UK for many years.

Laika is an often overlooked brand, hailing from Italy – its top-spec models have always rivalled the entry-level liners, so look out for Kreos models.

While Pilote has been gaining awards recently, the company’s Le Voyageur brand had a distinctive look a few years ago, with a loyal following and an interesting take on an A-class without a fixed bed (look for the ‘Dressing’ in the model name).

Coachman is a more recent entry into the motorhome market, so you may not find used versions, but it’s certainly one to watch.


Expert motorhome advice to your door!

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MMM's tests, reviews and expert buying guides are not to be missed. MMM's technical advice is a must and includes everything from weekend jobs to longer-term DIY projects. And much more!

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Every issue of What Motorhome magazine provides essential buying advice for anyone looking to buy a new motorhome or campervan or upgrade their existing model. With a pedigree of over 30 years of offering the best motorhome and campervan buying advice, every issue of What Motorhome includes more new motorhome and campervan reviews than you will find in any other magazine.

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Want to know more about Campervan magazine?

Campervan is the exciting monthly magazine that will give you all the inspiration you need to explore the world in your campervan. Every issue is packed with real-life campervanning experiences, inspiring travel ideas in the UK and further afield, the best campsites to stay on, campervan road tests and reviews of the latest models, and much more!

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