Category Archives: Camper Conversion News

Our 2018 Hire Camper Van

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This month’s blog is about our VW T6 Campervan for hire, as at last I can report seeing a yellow orb in the sky after months of grey and that means one thing: holidays.

For the last couple of years our trusty T5 hire van did sterling service, but we decided it was time to upgrade things a bit, so it’s moved on to new owners and we have just built a replacement.

The new van is a 2018 Highline T28 102PS in bright red. It meets the latest Euro 6 environmental regulations, so no worries about being banned from any city centres. Being a Highline it has all the best features you’d expect on a decent car, such as cruise control, heated front windscreen and climate control etc along with all the functionality and kudos of a quality VW campervan converted by ourselves.

2018 camper van hire

Inside we’ve chosen a modern clean look with a dual tone grey cupboard system complementing the simora seats and crash tested RIB seat (with ISOFIX fixings). This standard conversion comes with 50 litre compressor fridge, LED lighting, usb charge socket and a double burner gas and hob sink unit coupled to an integrated 23litre water tank. Taken together it’s a conversion that blends good looks with practicality.

The electrical hook-up system is able to charge the heavy duty gel leisure battery when you’re on site, so it runs all the electrics including a couple of mains sockets for those home comforts. But when wild camping the leisure battery takes on the task of running the fridge, lights and water pump, so you can be secure in the knowledge that the separate vehicle battery will remain fully charged regardless of your use of the conversion.

For a poptop roof we’ve chosen an Open Sky Reimo V Tech. This means that you can completely roll up the canvas on those blistering hot days of summer (we live in hope) using the roof as a sun shade more than anything and allowing you panoramic views whilst doing the washing up! Yet in a few seconds, the sides can be rolled down and zipped up should a sudden shower threaten.

Up in the roof itself the bed sleeps 2, with another 2 able to sleep’ downstairs’ on the RIB bed.

We’ve tried to think of everything you need on a holiday so the van comes fully kitted with crockery, cutlery, kettle, pans, cleaning materials and even salt and pepper grinders. So in theory all you need to bring is your food, some bedding and towels.

Whether you want to experience campervan life for the first time, or you just fancy a holiday where you can roam as you please, contact us and we’ll check availability for you.

We offer short breaks from Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday, as well as longer breaks from Saturday to Friday and we’ve held our rates again this year making it a great time to experience a brand new campervan.

Prices include vat, insurance, unlimited mileage and full breakdown recovery should the unthinkable happen.

For May: a short break is £360 and a long break is £550.

For June to August: a short break is £400 and a long break is £650

For full details see our website.

Our 2018 hire van features:

  • Automatic headlights
  • Daytime running lights
  • DAB radio
  • Alloy wheels
  • Leather wrapped multi function steering wheel
  • Arm rests for both the driver and front passenger
  • Automatic dimming rear view mirror
  • Rain sensors

Our 2017 hire camper van was converted in March and currently it’s somewhere in Scotland, the week before it was in Cornwall, so it’s rapidly getting to see the UK.

Planning your first camper van

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It’s amazing how good VW T5 and T6 transporters are in the snow, especially the 4 Motion of course. It’s a good job too, as the weather recently has reminded us that it’s still winter.

However spring is on its way and thoughts are turning to days away exploring, picnics on the coast and of course the big family holiday.

Recently we’ve seen a steady stream of excited customers working out the exact specifications they want for their van. Cupboard colours, trim colours, flooring colours, RIB seat options, solar panels, diesel heater, under worktop LED lighting, extra windows, USB charge points, Loc8 Table System, valuables safe, bespoke leather trimming, Reimo rail, rear speakers etc etc. The list can become daunting. So where do you start?

Here is our recommendation as to what to do and in which order. And it all starts with getting the van right first.

No matter how many times we warn against it, people sometimes buy the first van they see as they are so excited at the prospect of planning their conversion. They then spend a lot of money getting it converted and live with it day in and day out, constantly irritated because it wasn’t the right van in the first place.

  1. Size matters

Decide whether you want a SWB or LWB. SWB remains the most popular amongst customers, as these vans are easier to drive and park. But the LWB will give you 28% more usable floor area inside and allow you to have a longer bed if you need it.

2. Doors matter

Do you want a tailgate, which will give you a bit of protection from the weather when around the back of the van, or do you want barn doors which are easier to open when in a car park for example?

3. Specification matters

If you want A/C, or cruise control, or a heated windscreen etc get a base van that has it already. These are not things that can be easily added later.

And finally…

4. Some things don’t matter

If you want colour coded bumpers they can be done later, so too can you easily change the wheels or the stereo. You can add aftermarket feastures at almost any stage too, so don’t worry too much about those things.

Whatever the weight classification (T26, T28, T30 or T32) a conversion will work fine, although T28s and T30s are the most popular. Genuine VW lowering kits are available and can be fitted at any time.

Whether the van has a bulkhead or not makes little difference to the conversion and is not something you should get hung up about (although if you have the choice, no bulkhead is better for us thanks!).

And windows? We can fit them easily, so don’t pay extra for a van simply because it already has windows fitted. But if it already comes with windows, no problem.

And now the real fun can begin….planning the actual conversion!

Who wants a VW T6 campervan?

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Recently we were approached by a TV production company who were doing a piece on campervans and they were looking for ‘expert’ knowledge. Funnily enough they also wanted to sell us advertising too.
We don’t advertise very much and we try hard to target our adverts to people who are likely to be interested in one of our bespoke conversions, so we are careful.
People are bombarded with adverts for all sorts of things and I can honestly say that 99.9% of the adverts I see are of absolutely no interest. I’m over 50, but I have no interest in an over 50’s policy, I have no interest in a PPI claim, I’ll never use a product that is rich in A.H.A. fruit acids, I’ll never buy a new Peugeot or shop at Waitrose (Sainsburys is at the end of my road for goodnress sake). So just think how much time, effort and money is wasted making adverts that are of no interest and then how much of our lives we waste watching them.
So perhaps there’s something to be said for targetted advertising; it doesn’t waste the advertiser’s money and it doesn’t waste our time either. Amazon and Google are masters at it, but if you ever allow anyone else to use your computer, beware: last week I suddenly started receiving adverts for skateboards and for a while last year lots of adverts for ladies swimwear appeared (don’t ask).
The production company who approached us make programmes for a TV channel that specialises in cruise ship holidays and about 80% of the schedule is given over to reviewing floating hotels wallowing in crystal clear waters somewhere exotic.
This got the team at 8 Ball Camper Conversions thinking about who would watch such a channel and perhaps more importantly, whether they would be the type of person who would genuinely be interested in a VW T5 or T6 campervan.
So here is a list of personality traits we associate with campervan owners. It’s based on no hard evidence whatsoever, so I guess this means any data generated is suitable for making national and international policy decisions.
How many of these traits do you display?
For each one, have a think and make a mental note of the number catagories you fall into. If you reach 4 or more give us a call, as we may be able to help!
1 Do you  like exploring places?
Campervan owners tend to want a vehicle that will get them anywhere a car can go; whether it’s into city centres, down country lanes or down to the beach. They like going off the beaten track and finding places that few others have found before.
2 Do you like the outdoors?
Campervan owners enjoy feeling closer to nature than they would  if they were staying in a hotel (or on a cruise ship for that matter). The pop top roof gives us the benefits of feeling like we did when we camped in a tent, but the van conversion offers the advantages of being warm, dry and having all the comforts of home too.
3 Do you have an outgoing personality?
It sounds odd, but most campervan owners have a joy for life and are people who see the world as being a glass half full, rather than as being a glass half empty; they don’t like sitting about waiting for things to come to them. This can be a bit of a problem when we tell them the next build slot available is a few months away, but they usually accept it with grace and say something like “well at least it will give me time to research things a bit more”.
4 Are you thorough?
When people come to us with a view to a camper conversion, they fall into 2 groups: those who have spent hundreds of hours on the internet researching vans and those who are about to spend hundreds of hours on the internet researching vans. Researching vans can become addictive. But if you’re reading this then you know that already!
5  Are you slightly eccentric?
Quite a few campervan owners like to do things a bit differently. Their vans reflect their eclectic personalities and we see vans decked out out in everything from pretty pink flowers to blood splattered skulls and cross bones. They often use bold colours in their cupboard system  and they’re always on the look out for something else to make their van even more individual. These owners tend to love their vans the most; they keep them for years and almost always the van will have a name. If you have ever named one of your vehicles, you have this trait; even if you try to bury it deeply behind a sensible and grown up facade.
6  Are you cool (or secretly want to look cool, but at the same time not be too ‘showy’)?
A few campervan owners are surf dudes, or they wish they were. They see their van as a  cool means of transporting them and their boards to the next big wave. These customers often care more for their surf boards than their vans and they will ensure that their boards have something nice to travel on. If it’s not a surf board (and round here is not famed for surfing), then chances are it will be a bike; usually a mountain bike.
7 And the age of most campervanners?
Now this is a hard one, as we’ve seen campervanners from their 20s through to their 70s. However there seem to be two main groups: those in their 30’s who have young families and those whose children have flown the nest and who now have the freedom to travel where they want to go rather than keeping the kids happy.
So how did you score?
6 or more: You cannot live without a campervan. If you don’t already have one, you are missing out so badly that you may need therapy. Contact us immediately as part of the therapy process.
4-5: You should seriously consider getting a campervan. It will measurably improve your life and mean that you sometimes smile to yourself for no particular reason.
2-3: A campervan could be useful to you, but to be honest so could a vacuum cleaner or a set of emergency folding chairs.
0-1  You watch the cruise channel.
vw camper conversions

The ‘Comfort Dash’

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For years I’ve thought that the dashboard on VW T5 and T6 Transporter vans let the side down. This was partly because I banged my knees on it as a passenger in a T5 (I am very tall and my legs make most trousers look like shorts), but mostly because it seemed to be an enormous waste of space. I know VW had to hide air bags, heater controls, wiring and all sorts of gubbins behind it; but why oh why were there so few places to store stuff? I think the T6 dash is better than the T5, but even so, there had to be more space available with a bit more thought.

Perhaps they’ve now cracked it, as at last VW have decided to improve the dash on the T6 and we recently took delivery of a brand new Acapulco blue T6 Combi with the fancy new ‘comfort dash’. The van was our test bed for a new design of interior which kept the versatility of the combi van, but with an Austops roof and removable storage units. We showed the van at the Lincoln Motorhome Show last month and it gained a lot of interest, as this particular conversion offers a camper that can still be a van too…clever eh

Then a customer came along last week looking for a new or almost new van but with a full conversion with a fixed cupboard system and RIB seat. As a result it’s being re-trimmed as I write and is due for delivery to its new owners in a few weeks’ time.  So if you own a Combi van and you are looking for a bolt in camper interior, give us a call, as we have one in stock.

Anyway, back to the dashboard! It isn’t a cheap option, not least as it is only available on the California itself (RRP of over £60,000 if you go for a decent one) and as an option on the Combi van. At the present time VW won’t sell you a standard T6 transporter with the comfort dash. So if you want a conversion with one, then the only option is to pay the premium for a Combi van and then work from there. Effectively making it a £4,000 upgrade!!

However, it is brilliant. Much more storage than before, cupholders in a sensible place and it is colour coded to the van, giving it a really smart modern look. The central storage compartment is even linked into the AC, so it will chill what is in there…great for the sandwiches, but sadly not big enough for a bottle of wine…but then the van is being converted and that means it will have a large 50 litre compressor fridge anyway.

Will the ‘Comfort Dash’ become an option on all T6s? I hope so, as it really is so much more useful. I guess the painted surfaces may be susceptible to scratching if builders put their muddy feet on the dashboard, but for most of us, that shouldn’t be a problem. As you can see from the photos, there are lots of openings for a conveyor belt of maps, pens, sandwiches, sweets, first aid kit, cuddly toy, his and hers matching bath robes, fondue set…..(Sorry I’m going off track as someone mentioned that the Generation Game may be coming back on TV).

Of course the problem with selling the blue Combi is that yet again we have no van of our own to convert and we’ve found ourselves looking for a replacement. Never fear though, we’ve come up trumps with a ‘67 plate T6 Transporter 204PS 4 Motion with DSG gearbox and Highline specification in Starlight blue metallic. It looks fantastic and is likely to be converted in the near future. So if you’re in the market for a really special van then give us a call.

The Modern Generation of Camper Vans

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I love old things. VW T2s for example look brilliant, especially the early versions. Some people apparently love the look of T25’s too, although I’ve yet to meet one! To some people modern T5 and T6 vans somehow don’t compare. Well I urge you to think again.

I tend to hang on to old things in the belief they are better than the modern equivalent. A perfect example would be the window frames of my house. They were wooden and they once looked nice. The problem was that they needed painting yet again and a couple of them had become so rotten that it would take pots of wood filler to bodge them up for another year. So VERY reluctantly I bit the bullet and ordered uPVC replacements.

I’m now a convert. My new windows look better than the old ones and the difference in terms of insulation is amazing. Unlike the old ones, they need no maintenance, they won’t rot and I can throw my paint brushes away. Yippee.

This change of heart got me thinking about camper vans.

I know some people won’t be happy for me to say so, but old VW vans are like my old windows; the look nice, but modern versions are so much better. Old VW vans are noisy, slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, cramped and horrible to drive in comparison to their modern counterparts.

The T5 and T6 is as far removed from a T2 or T25 as you can get. They are smooth to drive, quiet, handle well, are economical, fast enough for any modern road and they will happily do 200,000 miles without blowing up. You can have air conditioning, heated seats, heated windscreen, cruise control, parking sensors and just about every other thing you’d expect in a modern vehicle.

Then there is the actual conversion into a campervan. In days gone by, conversions looked cheap and nasty because they were built using the materials available at the time. The result was that to be strong enough, everything needed to be heavy…which made the van handle like a lumbering walrus or to save weight, everything was made out of the flimsiest materials, which made the interior look cheap and the whole thing ended up squeaking more than an amorous rodent looking for love.

Modern technology has provided us with lightweight materials that are immensely strong, removing unnecessary weight but retaining or even increasing strength.  Design has improved too and the result is that a bespoke 8 Ball Camper Conversion is relatively lightweight, is rattle free and it’s finished in a way that exudes quality, craftsmanship and individuality.

Even electrics have improved. Gone are the days when you would sit in the dark to save the battery. Modern gel leisure batteries are many times more long lasting, and coupled to the use of LED lighting, split charge systems and solar panels, you can have the lights on for hours knowing that the van will still start in the morning.

So if like me, you’re a bit of a Luddite, who at times thinks that modern is worse, think again when it comes to camper conversions. As you can see in the picture below, I was particularly struck by this VW camper I was offered for the night 20 years ago. Oh how things have moved on….

Camper Jam 2017

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Recently I spent a day at Camper Jam 2017 and I’ve never seen so many VW Transporters and conversions in my life. There were plenty of T5 and T6s, as well as T2s, T25s and T4s as well.

The contrast in vans was astonishing. There were some that looked like they were ready for the scrap heap, lovingly held together with gaffer tape and pieces of baling twine.  And there were some that looked immaculate.

I watched a couple pull up next to a water point and fill up their water tank before proceeding to fill their buckets with water, bring out a couple of sponges and a step ladder and wash their van from top to bottom. I passed 2 hours later and they were still at it, using baby wipes to clean the door hinges! Not once did they talk to each other, not apparently because they’d fallen out, but rather they were so intently working away. I was told that there is something called’ show and shine’ and I think they were preparing for that…albeit on Friday for the judging two days later!

The vast range of vans was mirrored by a vast range of owners. Some were bohemian types who would have looked at home at Woodstock back in the 60s. Some were traditional families, dragging bored looking children around and some were rivet counters (you know the sort… they look under your bonnet and point out that the thread on your jubilee clips is incorrect). The number of dog owners was so great, I briefly wondered if there was a dog show running in parallel somewhere.

It was fascinating just watching people and soaking up the atmosphere. The one thing everyone had in common was a love for VW campervans. For some, it was clearly an obsession and the number of people who kept referring to ‘him’ or ‘her’ when apparently talking about their van made me smile. Most of the vehicles I’ve ever owned have been nameless, but one or two got named. ‘Ermintrude’ for example was an old cow of a thing and ‘Maurice’ was named after my late grandfather who left me £500 in his will which I used to buy it. 29 years on and Maurice is parked down my drive, my most treasured possession.

At Camper jam there were a number of conversion companies showing their work; some of the conversions were bizarre in my eyes. A bright orange T6 with a roof tent bolted to it, rather than a poptop for example. It had chunky off road tyres on it and looked very cool and rugged, but I’m not convinced that it was a good idea. You couldn’t stand up in it and you’d have to get out of the vehicle to go to bed in the tent.

Then there was a van that was lowered so much that I’m unsure how they even got it on to the site without ripping the front spoiler off. It was clipping the grass that had just been cut. It just looked like it had broken suspension to me, but there again spotty teenagers have pointed out that I’m notoriously uncool.

Certainly these vans made you take an interest, but practicality and longevity were not priorities to their owners.
At 8 Ball Camper Conversions we’ll try to give you the best of all worlds; a conversion that is practical and well thought through, at the same time as being stylish and elegant  (even a touch edgy if you’d like), but one that actually works as a camper should. A home away from home, useable every day as your main vehicle, but one that opens up the possibility to get off the beaten track.

We’ve just been sent this photo by one of our customers using his van in the Outer Hebrides. It says it all…….

The 8 Ball Hire Camper Van

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Summer is here and it’s campervan heaven. Over recent weeks 8 Ball Camper Conversions have seen a steady stream of happy customers collecting their bespoke VW T5 and T6 campervans all keenly planning their summer trips away.

For some people, owning a campervan is a dream; one that will take time to achieve, as they save up the pennies. But there’s a way to enjoy the campervan life this summer without the expense of actually buying. What about hiring one?

The 8 Ball hire van has a number of dates available over the coming months, so if you’re looking for a summer break option, why not consider campervaning?
Our hire van is a fully kitted out VW T5 8Ball Camper Conversion with almost everything you need on board. It sleeps up to 4, with 2 in the poptop roof and 2 more on the crash tested RIB seat/bed.
Open the cupboards and you’ll find all the pots and pans, plates and cutlery you need for everyday living. And there is a Loc8 Table System in the sliding door, so you have a camping table available that you can use both inside and outside the van too. Clever eh?
The fridge will keep your food chilled and make ice for your cocktails, whilst the double burner hob will boil the kettle for the morning cuppa and cook up the bacon and eggs.
With the mains electrical hookup connected, you will have a couple of mains sockets in the van to power your gadgets and at the same time the high capacity leisure battery will be seamlessly charged whilst you sleep.
So for a great time away, all you really need to add is fuel, your bedding, some food and a bottle or two of wine. Then relaxation is assured once you arrive at your destination.
The hire van is available for a number of dates over the summer months and we’ve frozen prices to the same level as last year too.
So whether it’s a surprise weekend away to celebrate your anniversary, a few days away with the kids at the seaside, or just the fact that you want to get off the beaten track; hiring our campervan may be the answer.
We offer 3 hire options as follows:
  1. Weekly hire (collection Saturday, returning the following Friday) during June to August is £650 inc vat.
  2. Short breaks are available with either collection on Friday with return on Monday,
  3. Or collection on Monday with return on Friday at a cost of £400 inc vat.

For more information and details of availability, contact us at info@8ballcamperconversions.co.uk or 01482 848236 and we’ll do all we can to help.

A modern Apprentice in a T6

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8 Ball Camper Conversions continues to grow, such is the demand for VW T5 and T6 Campervans. This has led to us taking on our newest member of staff who goes by the name of Pud. No honestly that’s his name, I’m sure it’s even written on his birth certificate.

Pud is our apprentice and he’s been with us since last summer, becoming ever more useful as he learns new skills and shares what he knows too. As with all apprentices he started off by learning the most important skill; how to make a good cup of tea. After all, life is a lot easier after a good brew. He has mastered Yorkshire tea and Earl Grey with or without milk; after all we’re a cosmopolitan bunch at 8 Ball Camper Conversions.

Pud has now progressed to more complex things and he’s mastered the art of constructing gas lockers, building up drawers, routering, edging and doing the fiddly bits. Neil (who’s very tall) is particularly impressed because Pud is somewhat diminutive and this means he can fit into small places when Neil drops his screwdriver behind a cupboard for example. Being small he also doesn’t take up much room when we all meet in the tiny office.

Modern apprenticeships are so much more than they used to be and Pud is studying hard whilst working with us. He goes to college each week where he’s working towards his NVQ Level 3 in Multiskilled Engineering with fabrication and welding. He’s so far gained certificates in Health and Safety, Business and he even has his 10 metre breast stroke badge So he’s a multi-skilled chap.

There are down sides for the rest of us. His taste in music can be a little suspect and he insists on singing along to the radio in a key that bears no resemblance to the original tune. He’s also never heard of most of the people the rest of us talk about (as most of them died before he was born).

On the positive side, he understands Facetwittergram or whatever it’s called and he seems to have a magical ability to post things without the need for a stamp. Although why he keeps tweeting when he doesn’t have feathers, defeats me.

It’s great to have him with us and apart from the fact that he makes us all feel old (OK Colin has the mind of a 12 year old but that doesn’t count), he’s a great help to the team. Helping us to build you the perfect Campervan.

He does take things a bit literally however and he seems to have misunderstood my request for a mugshot. Bless….

Hire a VW Camper Van

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It’s coming up to that time of year when people think about their holidays and in recent weeks people have started contacting us to ask about our VW T5 hire van.
The van is currently on its first outing of the year, in the French Alps with Mike and Colin on a snowboarding trip.
It’s good for them to use the van first, as they give it a good shake down and any potential issues can then be rectified before the main season starts. But perhaps the best bit this year is that thanks to their trip, it’s been upgraded. New headlights and upgraded bumper give it the look of a brand new van. The Loc8 Table System in the sliding door adds the functionality of a free standing table stored well out of the way when not in use. And the best upgrade?…..a diesel central heating unit; good for Alpine snow and the British summer too!
It’s been odd for hire van bookings this year…we have some bookings before summer and some after summer, but so far none actually during the school summer holidays. So if you fancy a week on the open road travelling wherever you please and staying wherever takes your fancy, give us a call to check availability.
The van is kitted out with just about everything you need from mugs and plates, to salt and pepper pots and power leads. In fact all you really need to add is some bedding, your clothes and whatever you want to eat.
So in this season that’s halfway between the drizzle of winter and the drizzle of summer, maybe now is the time to plan your get away.
We hire the van out for short breaks of either a long weekends (Friday to Monday) or short mid-week breaks (Monday to Friday), as well as full week hires (Saturday to Friday).
Prices for the season are as follows;
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Weekly Rate £480 £550 £650 £650 £650 £550 £550
Short break £320 £360 £400 £400 £400 £360 £360

READ MORE ABOUT OUR VW CAMPER VAN HIRE

Is 2017 the year for LWB T6 Campers?

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I’m not sure why, but this year’s order book has a lot more LWB T6 conversions than we’ve ever seen before. Historically SWB VW T5s and T6s have been the most popular, but change is afoot. In fact I’ve just checked and out of the next 12 conversions, 7 are LWB and only 5 are SWB. That’s weird.

I’ve written before about the pros and cons of LWB vs SWB camper vans and having slept in both during the same weekend last year, I was able to really compare them. I’m now a convert to LWB vans. Yes they are a bit longer, so people unused to driving larger vehicles find it a bit odd at first: some cut the corners and scuff the back wheel on the kerb, whereas others take corners so wide, they seem to think that they are at the helm of the QE2!

The reality is that LWB vans are only a bit longer than a SWB, but the extra length is really useful if you use the van as a camper. In fact I’ve just been and measured the difference it makes and by choosing a LWB conversion you get 26% more length in the living area. And that feels like a lot.

I have to agree that SWB vans look cooler and yes they are a tiny bit easier to manoeuvre. But as a camper, LWB vans make a lot of sense. They still fit under supermarket car park barriers and so long as you park nose in first, they fit in parking bays and you can still open the backs. They have almost identical fuel economy as their shorter brothers and the performance seems to be the same too.

But you get extra cupboard space, more floor space and you can even have a longer RIB bed as an option too.

So, if you’ll pardon the pun, I’m converted.

Whichever wheelbase you choose, we’ll do all we can to give you as much usable space as we can and it’s amazing the nooks and crannies that can be used to store something.

So as the days get longer and our thoughts turn towards heading out on the open road in our campers, spare a thought for the others. You know them; those unlucky souls squashed into an overloaded estate car. Or at the other extreme the people manoeuvring what looks like a wheeled bungalow down a country lane as they meet a herd of cows. I know it’s mean, but I do feel a bit smug when that happens.

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