Price from: £7,500 (based on a 2010 Peugeot with 100k miles recorded) Base vehicle: Peugeot Partner Tepee Outdoor Berths: 2 Travel seats: 2/3 Length: 4.38m Width: 1.81m Height: 1.86m Gross weight: 2,065kg Payload: 561kg
The name Barry Stimson might sound familiar. He’s the brains behind the original Romahome, perhaps the best known of all micro-motorhomes, and also developed a number of innovative campers under the Design Developments brand.
Things have been quiet from Barry for almost a decade but he’s back with a new design that he terms a ‘camping car’.
The Free Spirit is destined to serve primarily as daily transport, but be ready for weekend trips and days out whenever time permits.
It’s based on a Peugeot Partner Tepee Outdoor, a small van-derived car that’s offered with either a 1.2-litre petrol engine or 1.6-litre diesel with 100 to 120bhp outputs.
This model was produced from 2008 to 2018, so there should be plenty of choice when selecting a base vehicle, even including diesel automatic versions. And the Outdoor spec gives you alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and electrically folding mirrors.
But despite the generous kit, Stimson says it can offer a brand-new Free Spirit conversion on a 2010 car for an all-in price starting at around £7,500.
That will bring this camper into contention for those who have been priced out of the conventional campervan market, as well as those seeking something smaller – the Partner is less than four-and-a-half metres long and low enough to fit into a domestic garage.
Inside, its living area is obviously compact, especially as there’s no elevating roof, but it has been designed for living partly outside, at least when the weather permits, with the opened tailgate providing some sun/rain shelter.
There’s a surprisingly generous 1.70m-long settee, which can be arranged as a straight bench or an L-shape, and pillow-style cushions add comfort for relaxing.
Then, at night, the seating can convert into a single bed or a double that’s 1.80m long without having to use the cab seats. Cleverly, though, one of the original Peugeot rear seats can be refitted when you need to carry an extra passenger.
The kitchen sits opposite the sofa, along the nearside, and incorporates a touch of the past Stimson design innovation as the table neatly slides out from the unit.
There’s a lot more worktop than you might expect, too, as well as a ‘full-sized’ sink and a removable Happy Home single-burner cooker.
All the cupboards are made from colour-impregnated glass-fibre for durability as well as easy maintenance. It’s another aspect that will be familiar to anyone who remembers earlier Stimson designs.
The galley has been designed so that you can make a morning brew without disassembling the bed and a Porta Potti can also be used when the single bed is in situ.
A 12V/230V coolbox completes the kitchen spec, along with three mains sockets and two 12V outlets. The loo and cooler can both be accessed from outside (through one of the car’s twin sliding doors) as well as from inside and there’s additional storage under the settee.
A roof box can be added for additional luggage capacity.