A class v Coachbuild

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Sid52, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. Sid52

    Sid52 Funster

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    Now getting close to buying our first motorhome. We have looked at many models and layouts and we've pretty much decided on a fixed rear bed and overcab or dropdown bed. Although it will be used mostly for the two of us we need two extra belted seats for grandchildren or friends. We would like to keep the length <7m.

    Although we are leaning towards an A class, any opinions, advantages/disadvantages that relate to one or the other will be very welcome. We want to be as sure as possible that there aren't some important factors we have missed or not considered properly

    Cheers
    Sid
     
  2. ourcampersbeentrashed

    ourcampersbeentrashed Funster

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    We spent a long time trying to find what would suit our needs best.

    We were torn between the lunar roadstar 786 and a Mobilvetta Top Driver but took the roadstar as we didnt need a garage at the back.

    Ours has a fixed rear bed, massive bathroom that extends the whole length of the back - which is ideal when you have 4 adults with you or lots of children, plenty of storage space and a spacious lounge layout.

    The kids sleep above the cab without interferring with other space we can still use the driver and passenger seats which swivel round and can still stay up chat watch TV etc and have visitors over too.

    The A class drop down beds often mean the loss of use of the driver and passenger seats and although very rare, the drop down beds can break on A class.

    We went from just over 17ft to 26ft and the extra space proved invaluable with children during heavy rain periods, we werent tripping over each other anymore. With a full fridge freezer and full cooker we can cook easier and dont have to shop so often.

    In your situation we would chose Coachbuilt rather than A class.

    If you are going to any of the fun meets or rallies many funsters will talk to you about their experiences and many will show you the interior of their motorhome xxxx

    Good luck with choosing the right motorhome for you.
     
  3. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    a class

    hi,
    having had both, i prefer the A class. not so squashed in the cab area when driving and the views are great. the drop down bed is rated at 30 stone.
    and the bed can be lowered and still have 6 seats in a 7 metre van.
    and make sure your insurance will cover the windscreen as some have a low limit for replacement.
    good luck!
     
  4. andyman

    andyman Read Only Funster

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    We also have had a coach built and A class. Definitely prefere the A class.
    The big front window is great when parked up and you want to enjoy the view.
    With front bed down we can still sit 3 people which is enough in a 4 berth. The drop down bed is also easier to get into as it is lower than on a C/B.
    On a coach built you will get 2 front doors, most A class are only 1.
    Down side is A class tend to be more expensive.

    Andy
     
  5. canopus

    canopus Funster Life Member

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    Agree with both Sue & Andy. We too have had a coachbuilt and now own an A class. Its like moving up the league in terms of quality, insulation and comfort, but as Andy said, often with the increased price to pay. :thumb:
     
  6. Wicketter

    Wicketter Funster

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    A Class v Coachbuilt

    We swopped last year from a Pilote A class to a Bailey coachbuilt with fixed rear bed. Although we loved the Pilote, we much prefer the coachbuilt. Living is more spacious as the Bailey is 5 feet longer but the driving position we find much better in the coachbuilt. Somehow it seems easier to postion it on the road. Also stone chips in the A class are much more troublesome to fix, we had to have a new windscreen in our Pilote and a new one had to be ordered which took ages, whereas a coachbuilt screen is a standard van one and usually off the shelf!

    All in all, have a good look around and then go with your head and what is more practical for you.
     
  7. ludo

    ludo Funster Life Member

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    Coachbuilt for us!

    We were on the point of buying a Rapido A class 5 years ago, having previously owned 3 van conversions and 1 coachbuilt. Thay was until we met a couple in Spain with a Hymer A class. They had been stuck in Portugal for amost 3 months waiting for a new windscreen. Theirs had been smashed.

    After 8 weeks a new screen arrived but after removing what remailned of the old screen, the crew found that the new one was the wrong screen. After waiting another 4 weeks the new correct screen arrived and was duly fitted. They told me that the new screen cost £4,000 although their insurance company paid the bill. I expect their premium was loaded the following year.

    This made us think deeper into the pros and cons of coach built v A class. We decided on a coachbuilt.

    What happens if you have a front end smash. Where do you get a new bonnet, wing, etc. Only from the motorhome manufacturer. If you damage the front or wing of a coachbuilt based on a regular Ford, Fiat, etc., they are easily replaced at a much lower cost.

    For us the choice would be a coachbuilt every time. I hasten to add that we have since downsized and have another van conversion now.
     
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  8. Cocoro

    Cocoro Read Only Funster

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    I really like A class vans. I've had two Hymers and enjoyed both of them. Now I'm on my first C class and I have to say, after much mind searching before buying it, I really like it.

    I also enjoy panorama views while driving and the large screen gave me a better sense of how high and wide I was when manoeuvring. But every time a stone hit the screen I winced hard and spent the next few miles searching for the impact. I had one screen replaced in the UK on my first van which cost £1,000 but of course the insurance paid. They did though tell me that if I had wanted it replaced abroad where the crack happened, they would have only contributed to the cost, not paid it in full. Check your policies.

    But those panorama views were rapidly obscurred in the cooler camping days when the rain forest of water condensed upon it. Out of season camping and blown air heating meant saturated glass. Unless you go for one of the high line van such as Concorde or Carthago where the Alde heating is set at the base of the screen to keep it warm, you better get some towels ready.

    I value privacy also. I don't like to be on show while pitched up. Some people like it and thats ok. But that large window works both ways. We all know what it's like, you scratch your nose and feel ten pairs of eyes twitch towards you. I've nothing to hide (so my girlfriend tells me!) I just don't feel the need to invite every passer by to check out the inside of my van.

    I do love the look of the A class vans though. They have a certain status about them which I have to admit being a factor in why I bought them. But I am beginning to love the benefits of a Coachbuilt. Ok, mine, once pitched up has a door with which you close off the cab area completely and therefore the insulation is close to fantastic. The privacy of not having the large window I of course enjoy too. But it's the fixed, over head bed that has surprised me most I think. Previously with the drop down double bed, it's only use was for sleeping in as it took away some space from the lounge i.e. the two front seats, when down. Now the fixed, overcab bed is a massive 'chuck it in the loft' space for all those things that simple get in the way but you use regularly. Like the girlfriend for instance. :Laughing: No, seriously, like her two little dogs. They resisted at first but now it's their space, their loft and they reach up to get up there. They look out of the windows and sit for hours content only with that. Cooking? put the girls in the loft.

    When someone stays with me, their bag goes up there and it's out of the way. As behind the two front chairs in an A class there is no room because of all the mineral water bottles, beer and wine keeping cool there! Along with laptop bags and other accessories. No, the awkward looking box over the cab is now one of my favourite things.

    Driving is quieter too. For some reason the cab of the original base vehicle is much quieter in a C class than an A. When the extra cooling fan kicked in on my fiat it was loud and all the high line A class vans i drove when looking for my next van also got hot, it was even louder. I'm sure their not all the same but thats what I found. I wish I had more room to stretch out in the cab while driving and so does my girlfriend but on the whole, it's a better driving position than my past two A class Hymers.

    But would I have another A class? Yes, absolutely I would. I will always consider them in my purchases. But it would have to be one with Alde heating, screen heating with an electrically operated blind for privacy and for keeping the condensation at bay.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  9. simsy56

    simsy56 Funster

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    What if, what if?

    What if someone shunted your MH from behind? What if someone shunted your MH from the side. Nothing cheap off the shelf there.

    We cannot live in a world of if's, or we would not live at all.

    I had a Winnebago A class, fully insured for windscreens too. I didn't bite my nails every time i went out in it though.

    I personally prefer an A class for the driving pleasure, and panoramic view. I personally do not like bed over cab layouts.

    Craig
     
  10. Wicketter

    Wicketter Funster

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    Totally agree with that! Our windscreen was fitted twice but never quite right! Also another issue with an A class ( at least it was with ours ) fitting new bulbs in the headlights, not a 5 min job!! As the body is custom built sometimes so much has to be moved first, to change a lightbulb on ours was a garage job. Ironical really, that on the continent you have to carry spare bulbs, there's no way we could have changed ours .

    But, the A Class still has a lot going for it and looks fab, it was a big decision to go from our Pilote to a coachbuilt but not one that we regret! The storage was great and would be ideal for a family. The final clincher for us was the fact we only wanted one bed and the Bailey was so much cheaper. We had the Pilote from new for 9 years and bought the Bailey new last year and we love it. We couldn't really justify the cost of going for another A Class, but horses for courses. Value wise I suspect the Bailey will hold it's price less well than the Pilote, but time will tell, we tend to keep our vans a long time.

    :thumb: Finally check the doors, our cab door was on the drivers side, fine for this country, but abroad I spent quite a lot of time hanging out of the passenger window at toll booths and the like!
     
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  11. My Dog Likes Fishing

    My Dog Likes Fishing Funster Life Member

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    We have used our Autotrail Scout van all winter. Every time we have pitched the Silver Screens have been on. Still had the views out of the rear lounge though. We use the screens in the summer to keep cool.

    The benefit of the lovely views in an A class when travelling would have been lost when pitched up.

    All a matter of preference really and when and where you are going to use your van.
     
  12. ludo

    ludo Funster Life Member

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    Sid asked for any opinions, advantages/disadvantages of Coachbuilt v A class. I merely gave my own honest opinion, based on previous experience, without criticising the views or opinions of others as you seem to have done mine.

    If you prefer A class then say it, together with your reasons why. That is all that Sid asked for.

    It is a matter of fact that windscreens and other specific parts are not only more expensive on an A class, but much harder to come by.

    Regretfully, Craig, we DO live in a world of “what if’s”. That is why we have insurance policies for vehicles, homes, possessions, medical emergencies and lives. That is why most of us lock our doors and take care where we camp wild. It’s called risk assessment and we all have to do it to reduce any risk that might arise. Not to do so in our everyday lives would be foolish to say the least.

    Sid needs to make a decision upon which class of motorhome will be best for him and, if he has the facts, and opinions of others, to consider, he is in a better position to do so. I personally hope that he finds the perfect van, has wonderful holidays and that he grows to love it, as we do.
     
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  13. Sid52

    Sid52 Funster

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    Thanks to everyone who has replied. There have already been several observations that I had not considered. The bespoke A class windscreens I had already considered as an issue re insurance, but had not considered length of time to source and fit them. Also the condensation issue, although perhaps can be mitigated with better screening/insulation.
    But possibly these negatives are offset by the extra space in the cab area which gives better integration into the habitation area.

    One specific query, has anyone seen an A class where the driver's seat was offset slightly to the left of the steering wheel? I saw this recently on a Pilote, I think 2002 model.

    What I found really valuable is the personal observations so far. Please keep them coming!

    Cheers
    Sid
     
  14. simsy56

    simsy56 Funster

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    I hope Sid finds the perfect van for him too. If he has the facts, and opinions of others, not the what if's.

    What if, ....you hadn't bumped into someone who had been waiting months for a windscreen (why i cannot think) maybe you would have gone down the A class route, like the many thousands who have, and enjoy them.
    Yes we all have insurance, for unforeseen events, that goes without argument.
    If I thought each and every day, what if i fell down the stairs, what if i got knocked down, what if this broke, what if that snapped, I wouldn't get anything done!
    Oh yes, it's called risk assessment isn't it?
    Go and enjoy yourself and stop worrying about what could go wrong. It's much nicer.

    Craig
     
  15. lunarman

    lunarman Funster

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    I have recently moved to an A class after having a number of coachbuilts. So far I am very pleased with the move.

    I have found it difficult to get used to the width of the cab when driving. For some reason having the full width cab I think the van is wider than the c class. However the view when driving is great.

    There is only 1 entry door in the cab area ours is on the passenger side so I have to disturb SWMBO when I get in or out. I also inspect the drivers side very often when returning to the van after forgetting there is no drivers door:Doh:

    On the subject of doors some A class vans have only got doors on the drivers side this means that in this country there is no means of exiting the vehicle on the safe side away from the traffic.

    I have not had a problem with privacy or condensation on the front screen. Ours is fitted with a concertina blind and I have invested in an external insulated cover.

    If I were to change again in the future I would go for another A class.

    Hope this helps
     
  16. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    I am on my second A-class after having had many coachbuilts. The A class is more spacious, though its more a feeling of space rather than actual usable space.
    Driving an A-class is much nicer than a coachbuilt, where the cab is still a commercial van, with panoramic views and a lot more elbow room.
    There is also no steel bodywork to rust.

    That said the windscreen does cost a fortune to replace, and when ours went on the Hymer, it took 3 days for autoglass to get a replacement.
     
  17. lorger

    lorger Funster

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    We had a coach built and changed at begining of year to what they call a crossover it's sort of inbetween A class and coach built here is a video of our model might just give you something to think about. When the van is new you can go for an electric drop down bed that will give you more positions to stop it, or like ours you can still sit a coup,e of adults and kids under when bed is down although I can't see us doing this. When my daughter and her friend come with us we give them the back bed which is great as they can sit there out the way during the day or watch a DVD. Our lounge area is very roomy so far we have had 8 sitting round the table and still room for another 1or 2.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=HuICZwc1Xng&desktop_uri=/watch?v=HuICZwc1Xng
     
  18. Peter & Elaine

    Peter & Elaine Funster

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    The last one on the video is the perfect layout for Elaine and I
    Not sure about the electric be though as we would never use it
    Of looking on auto trader now
     
  19. Gunner29

    Gunner29 Read Only Funster

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    Advice

    The only advice I can give first time buyers is this;
    Can you and your wife stand each other after sitting in a box for 2 weeks of bad weather:Eeek:. Bit tongue in cheek!!!:Rofl1:
    Its what you feel comfortable with but do have a long hard look at as many M/Hs as you can and don't be taken in by flash fittings.i.e. Plush bathrooms that you may or may not use.
    Good luck anyway
     
  20. maz

    maz Funster

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    And not just bulbs. The A-class that I had (Burstner) seemed to have been built around the engine battery. If that needed changing it was major surgery to get at it. Also if you had needed to gain access to the top of the front shock absorbers, you would have had to remove the entire dashboard. :Eeek:

    I liked the A-class because it felt like I was driving something larger than it really was (bit of a power trip :BigGrin:). But the external silver screen was a battle to put on, especially if it was windy. And, as a fulltimer, I was always conscious of the amount of time I might have to spend in it without a windscreen if it went. Not a side-of-the-road job within the hour. I didn't need the drop-down bed as I used the fixed bed at the back, so it was extra weight to carry around for nothing. Current van is a low-profile coachbuilt which suits me better really. I also like the extra light that comes in with the low-profile over-cab rooflight. But if you need the extra bed in the cab (whether drop-down or Luton), then a low-profile isn't going to work for you anyway.

    At the end of the day, A-class or coachbuilt, the rest of the layout has to work for you as well. So maybe concentrate on that and then see whether A-class or coachbuilt really matters to you. :Smile:
     
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