Anyone who’s been in the motorcaravan business for any length of time will know the name Barry Stimson very well indeed, for his are the brains behind some of the most innovative and devilishly simple yet clever motorcaravans ever made.
Think LVD St Tropez and La Parisienne. Think Romahome. Think…Mazda Bongo?
This latter isn’t a motorhome that you might immediately associate with Barry, as he would be the first to admit that he was by no means the first to see the potential of the Bongo, but while his new Outback might not be the most striking or flashy of the Bongo breed, it is arguably one of the cleverest in its use of the limited space available.
To look at them, you’d swear your average Bongo’s tall, narrow body and comparatively skinny tyres would prove positively nightmarish on the open road, but nothing could be further from the truth in reality. The driving position is most definitely rather commercial (you sit practically over the front wheels), but getting comfortable therein is the work of a matter of seconds, with the potential problem of the comparatively small footwells overcome by the simple fact that just about every Bongo that comes into the UK has an automatic gearbox – and therefore no clutch pedal to clutter things up.
The really clever bit comes at night, however. Making up the twin 6ft 8in by 1ft 9in single beds using both rows of seats is a doddle, but the key point is the fact that the coolbox, Porta Potti and sink and cupboards are all still useable, and you’ve even got a bit of standing room in which to disrobe. Really and truly, the Stimson Outback is the TARDIS of the Bongo world.
And the clincher? Our test model costs just £7995, a price which includes the same package of road tax, fresh MoT and minor service (you can opt for a cambelt service for another £250).
Year 1997 (P)
Indicated mileage: 64,440km
Bed dimensions: Two 6ft 8in x 1ft 9in singles
Travel seats: 4
Kitchen: Smev two-burner non-spark ignition hob, Campingaz electric coolbox, electric cold-only water pump
Heating: None fitted
Other features: Porta Potti, CD/tuner, climate controlled air conditioning, automatic transmission, electric side window blinds and Auto Free Top elevating roof, electric windows and door mirrors, driver’s airbag
Warranty: 12 months conversion.