Do people buy motorhomes
and campervans to go ‘motorhoming’
or to pursue their interests? Do you know
where you want to go, how often and for how
long? Why choose a motorhome over a caravan?
Perhaps you are reading this webpage to answer
these questions; the good news is that the
book Go Motorhoming and Campervanning does
answers every conceivable motorhome or campervan
Throughout the Go Motorhoming
and Campervanning book we use the umbrella
term ‘Motorhome’ regardless of
vehicle size and origin. Therefore Campervans,
Mobile-Homes, Motor Caravans, Recreational
Vehicles (RV’s), and Camping Cars, are
What is a motorhome, a car,
a house, an escape? No wonder you’ve
always wanted one. Whether it is the retirement
present you have worked so hard for, or a
cheap campervan to go on tour, you will love
it just the same.
Why rent a camper
van before you buy?
Just about all camper van and motor home owners
would agree that hiring a motorhome before
you buy, especially if you have not owned
a touring caravan, is highly recommended.
Ensure that you hire a motorhome with a toilet.
Before you hire a campervan or motorhome,
read the small print in the rental agreement,
and check what costs are incurred for damage.
Are there any territorial restrictions, for
example GB mainland only? Australian hire
companies exclude you from driving their campervans
down dirt roads unless a 4x4 motorhome is
hired. The hire company’s handover may
be basic. Ensure you understand how to turn
the water and gas on and off, how to fill
the water and gas tanks and how to empty the
toilet and wastewater. Make up the bed and
make sure you know where everything is before
you leave the rental company. If something
on the motorhome breaks down or gets broken,
contact the rental company immediately as
they may be able to give advice and suggest
where repairs can be made. Always contact
the camper van rental company before work
is undertaken and keep any receipts. Do make
sure you return a clean camper with empty
empty toilet and waste tanks to avoid expensive
post hire cleaning charges.
Can you hire cheap
campervans and motorhomes?
Hiring a campervan or motorhome might seem
expensive but will almost certainly save you
money in the long run and the experience will
probably cause you to choose a completely
different motorhome to what you originally
thought. Some hire companies offer special
purchase deals post hire.
Why hire a motorhome
or campervan when you can buy a cheap one?
An equally viable option to hiring is to buy
a budget motorhome that has reached the point
where depreciation is entirely down to condition.
Therefore, if used sympathetically for a short
time there should be little difference between
purchase and sale price. This is a great way
to find out what you must have but more importantly
what you can do without. Buy carefully and
you should have no problem reselling. See
Chapter 2 for a full explanation. The success
of your first trip will depend on your forward
What is the best
chassis for motorhome and best donor van for
Most motorhomes are built upon or utilise
some or all of a light commercial vehicle.
Fiat’s Ducato has been the dominant
base vehicle in recent years, but its siblings
Citroën Relay and Peugeot Boxer are also
used. All three brands are manufactured in
the same SEVEL factory in Italy. Other makes
include Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Iveco
Daily, VW Transporter and Renault Master.
Fiat and Ford produce special low and wide-track
motorhome chassis that offer enhanced ride
and handling. Their design means the caravan
body floor is closer to the ground. Some motorhomes
have an AL-KO galvanised chassis providing
similar attributes but also has independent
Should I buy a motorhome
or campervan with a petrol or diesel engine?
Most modern motorhomes and campervans have
a diesel engine as standard, older, small
and American RVs may be petrol driven. Diesel
engines offer high torque at low revs so are
the most suitable for heavy motorhomes. Diesel
is often considerably cheaper than unleaded
petrol in Europe so it is worth choosing a
diesel engine. Leaded petrol is not widely
available on the continent, but the lead substitute
added to unleaded fuel is. LPG is available
on the continent but not widely in every country.
See Chapter 3 for LPG fuel station locations.
What is the difference
between a motorhome, campervan or RV?
There are three distinct motorhome types:
Van Conversions, Coachbuilt, and A-Class.
‘White-Van’ Man can deliver anywhere
and manoeuvrability is what makes Van Conversions
so practical. Coachbuilt motorhomes are the
most common conversion and offer the best
value for money. A-Class motorhomes are the
cream of the crop and can cost as much as
a house. Van Conversions are converted panel-vans,
sometimes referred to as PVCs. Modern vans
have a car like drive, and despite modest
proportions, many Van Conversions are practical
for long-term touring. Converters adapt everything
from car-derived vans right up to the biggest
Mercedes and Iveco high cube monsters. Ignoring
length, panel vans have less internal space
than Coachbuilt and A-Class motorhomes for
two reasons. Coachbuilt and A-Class motorhomes
have upright sidewalls but panel-van sidewalls
slope inwards slightly. Coachbuilt and A-Class
motorhomes are generally 2.3m (7’7”)
wide but a panel-van is 2m (6’7”)
wide or less. Converting a panel-van is awkward
because most of the work has to be done within
the confines of the van. This is time consuming
and therefore increases the conversion cost.
Van Conversions have had a revival recently,
mainly due to the increased width of modern
vans. Two metre wide vans can have widthways
beds long enough, to be comfortable, for people
up to 1.83m (6ft) tall. Transverse beds across
the back of the van are popular and functional.
Often there is a large storage space under
the bed or it folds up creating a walkway
through the middle. This makes it possible
to load bikes or even sheets of plywood for
a DIY project. Big, sliding side doors bring
the outside in and there is nothing nicer
than sitting comfortably inside looking out
over a great view.
A-Class motorhomes look similar to a coach
because the donor vehicle cab is not used.
The smooth-lined body and purpose-built front
end is built upon a bare chassis cowl (engine,
electrics, axles, suspension etc, but not
the cab). The purpose-built front end has
to be designed to be passenger and pedestrian-friendly
(complying with European Community directive
2007/46/EC) an expensive and time-consuming
process. To make the most of the extra front-end
space the driver and co-pilot’ seats
normally swivel around to become part of the
lounge or dining area and a drop down bed
is often found above. Probably the best thing
gained is the panoramic view out of the front
How much do you need
to spend to buy a campervan or motorhome?
Consider both the purchase price and running
costs of your motorhome. Factor in insurance,
servicing and recovery charges as well as
fuel economy. Prices range from £1000
to over £1,000,000 so it is easy to
get carried away, and you will probably find
you need to spend more than you originally
thought. With some negotiation, £30,000
will buy you a brand new entry level motorhome.
£7000 will buy a good 20-year-old motorhome.
Under £7000, there are plenty of Van
Conversions, VW Campervans and Coachbuilt
motorhomes aged 25-30 years.
How do I find
the answers to all my campervan and motorhome
If you have plenty of time, you can read the
posts on motorhome, RV, and campervan forums.
You could spend £10 to £15 buying
the various campervan and motorhome, motor
caravan monthly magazines. You could talk
to everyone you know and meet that has a motorhome
or campervan. Or for £11.99 you could
buy and read Go
Motorhoming and Campervanning ISBN 9780956678119.