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Editorial - Interior Design
 
 

We’ve 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.

Let 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.

But 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!

I’m 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.

So, 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 perfect motorhome?

Neill

 

 
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