been looking for a replacement for our hightop van. Starting with a fairly
casual interest at the Stratford show in June, our search turned more
serious at York in early September and reached a pinnacle of determined
activity in Dusseldorf at the end of the month. We’ve now seen what
seems like thousands of motorcaravans but have found few if any that are
exactly what we are looking for. After such a marathon I suppose it’s
not unnatural to start questioning one’s own expectations and also the
validity of the choices available from the major manufacturers. I have to
say that we’ve found many of the current offerings rather disappointing.
me give you an example. With the birth of our first grandchild we would
now like to be able to carry the expanded family on occasions so we’re
looking for a 4/5 berth van with the same number of three-point belted
seats for travelling. I
thought that would be more or less standard on a ‘family’ van these
days but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We’ve seen numerous ‘4 berth’ motorhomes with no rear belts
at all, several with only lap belts and some with very odd combinations of
3 point and lap belts and not always in the same number as the sleeping
berths! I remember trying to
deal with problems like this years ago when we were trying to fit rear
child restraints to various second-hand cars for our own children - now
here we are thirty years later with exactly the same problem in motorhomes
for our grandchildren. Is this progress? Is it reasonable? Surely we
should all now have a right to secure and safe travel in a private motor
vehicle? Yes I know it will place additional design restrictions on
motorhome converters but the same was said about seatbelts in the back of
estate cars and then in mini-buses and now in coaches - but solutions were
of course found.
there’s more - how about beds for example? Now I think the bed is a very
important resource in a motorcaravan, perhaps the
most important resource. After all, that’s what most of us use the van
for isn’t it? - to stay away from home in some desirable spot sleeping
in our own portable bed? Following all our research on the small
coachbuilts that are now our hearts desire, I can tell you we’re now
experts on beds in these vehicles. Unfortunately I can also tell you that
we think most of them are sub-standard. Substandard in size, substandard
in comfort, substandard in operation and substandard in build, this is
quite astonishing in a product costing £25-35,000. We have generally
found the build quality of German ‘vans to be very high and I must say
that the better British ‘vans are good too. It therefore comes as a
shock to me that a number of major manufacturers have apparently taken the
design decision that double beds don’t need to be longer than 5'
10" or so. OK, I know that we’re not all giants but in a world in which a
‘standard’ double bed is 6' 3" there surely is a case for
expecting to find the same in a motorhome? There is obviously a case for
special designs with special solutions but surely we have a right to
expect dimensions to accommodate the established range of ‘normal’
people? At least unless the special compromise is clearly identified?
Unfortunately this is plainly not so - as an example, I stood my usual 6'
1" tall in a very appealing small coachbuilt motorcaravan in Dusseldorf talking to a very large German salesman. We discussed the
amazing gain in living space over rivals but never once did he mention
this was because the bed was 5" shorter than in the rival ‘van!
only too aware that our ‘wish list’ means we’re looking for the
impossible (more about that in our vehicles
pages) but surely there must be certain minimum standards that are
acceptable. I would have thought that this was an age in which basic
travel safety features and top notch sleeping comfort were absolutely
essential requirements not something that restricted choice to just a few
models or is reserved for ‘2 berth luxury’ motorhomes.
what do you think? Do let me know - email me or post something on the
forum. Perhaps you’d like to tell us about your