Panel van conversion or small coachbuilt?

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by pengy, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. pengy

    pengy Funster

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    Hi,

    I'm new here, and have been lurking and reading and pondering!

    I live on Anglesey and so travelling to look at vehicles isn't easy as most are quite a distance away. I've seen a couple reasonably locally, an Ace Siena (Fiat) and a Compass Avantgarde (Peugot). They are both nice but I'm aware how wide and tall they are! I plan to spend time touring in Scotland (as well as locally here in North Wales), and the roads in many parts are very narrow. I am worried that the vehicles will be too wide. My comfortable budget is around £21,000 (a little more if necessary). I've looked at the 3 North Wales coastal dealers, if anyone know of anyone else - do tell!

    I would like to also look at a Trigano Tribute, but haven't found one nearby (yet!).

    So I thought I would ask here for people's opinions:

    1. Any thoughts on things to bear in mind when thinking of either type of vehicle?
    2. Anyone know from first hand experience whether the narrower Trigano Tribute type actually 'feels' narrower while driving?
    3. Is one kind of vehicle generally more comfortable to drive?
    4. Is there a marked difference in fuel consumption between a low profile 6m ish and the conversion? If driven carefully!

    Sorry - that seems to be a lot of questions!

    I would appreciate any thoughts as I'm very new to all this. I wanted to buy one last year, but I got cold feet as it seemed such a big step to take! I hope to overcome that this year!

    Thank you!

    Yvonne
     
  2. DeuceBG

    DeuceBG Funster

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    We started out with a relatively small Peugeot Boxer based Elddis but swapped it after a very short time for a VW LT35 based Van Conversion.

    Our primary reason for doing this was that the Boxer felt quite big and sluggish (although it was the non-turbo version) and also took up alot of the drive and a considerable width of the local roads between us and the coast.
    I never felt like just taking it out for the day for a run to a picnic spot for a cuppa on a Sunday, whereas the LT feels that much smaller and more user friendly and we're out and about in it quite a bit.
    Although the Boxer was not unpleasant to drive, we enjoy the LT much more.
    Of course, the downside to this is that there is less room in the LT and everything is slightly more compact.
    As for economy, there's little to choose between them as far as I can tell with both averaging between 25 - 30mpg on shortish runs.
    Overall we love the LT as it's less of a beast and we get more use out of it.
    Funnily enough, our Elddis went to North Wales which was also where our LT came from.
     
  3. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Hi Yvonne, welcome to the fun house! :thumb:

    We've had coachbuilts large and small and PVCs (panel van conversions). What you need to consider is:

    HOW will you USE it?:

    If there is just you and you want to be able to get to out of the way places, not spending a long time in one spot normally (maybe a couple of days max), want to be able to park easily when you take it into towns and villages, and don't need a massive amount of space inside then a PVC may be what would suit you best.

    If you want to have a lot of space to sprawl around in, want all your creature comforts with you, and plan to spent more time in one place, then a coachbuilt may be more appropriate.

    Layout:

    Decide on what you MUST have in it, what would you LIKE, and what is a definite NO-NO. This will help you to narrow down the models that would suite you. If, for example, you want to have a shower every day, then a separate shower cubicle would be a necessity IMV, however, if its only every now and then, then having one which is part of the washroom (ie no cubicle) would likely be sufficient. Kitchen equipment - do you need a large or small fridge, how big do you want the cooker hob, do you need an oven etc etc, again will help you get clear in your head what is required.

    From what you've already said a PVC, or one of the very narrow coachbuilts, may suffice.

    When will you use it?:
    If you only intend to use it from spring until summer then a fully winterised van would be needed so maybe a rising roof PVC might do, however if you want to use it all year round then IMV you definitely need either a high-top PVC or coachbuilt.

    As for your specific questions:

    1. Any thoughts on things to bear in mind when thinking of either type of vehicle?

    See above.

    2. Anyone know from first hand experience whether the narrower Trigano Tribute type actually 'feels' narrower while driving?
    We have an Autocruise Accent PVC at 6m long and 2.1m wide which we bought specifically because of it being narrower than our previous MH which was 2.3m wide, 20cm is quite a difference and we know for definite that we would not have been able to go to the places we did if we hadn't changed from 'chubby' to 'slim'.

    3. Is one kind of vehicle generally more comfortable to drive?
    Yes, we've found the PVC much more 'car like' as we don't have to worry about the extra width of the coachbuilt body. There are some narrow coachbuilts none of them are as narrow as a PVC, although some do come close.

    4. Is there a marked difference in fuel consumption between a low profile 6m ish and the conversion? If driven carefully!
    Not a massive difference as it really depends on your driving style. As a general rule, a very large coachbuilt will get around 23-25mpg, a small one up to around 30mpg, and a PVC up to 33mpg.

    Whilst I understand your difficulty in seeing vehicles due to your location don't just plump for something because it's on your doorstep. If you don't get a van beforehand, why not go to the National Motorhome Show at Peterborough in April as you'll see lots and lots of MHs/PVCs there, both new and used.:BigGrin:
     
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  4. pengy

    pengy Funster

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    A big "Thank You" to Deuce and Mel B! That is exactly the kind of first hand experience that I was hoping for! It does seem that the PVC (I have learned a new term) would be more suited to the kind of roads I'll be travelling on. Although I can't see me wanting to go away in the depths of winter, maybe February/October, so heating will be a factor to consider.

    I will definitely be making that list, and exercise some patience in looking. Good idea about the Peterborough show too.

    Strange to think of vans going from Lincoln to North Wales!

    Yvonne
     
  5. DeuceBG

    DeuceBG Funster

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    And indeed vice versa.
    The lady with whom we traded wanted something larger internally and we wanted something smaller externally.
    Everyone's happy.
    Mel B is right about finding the right layout too.
    We looked at many configurations and found none to be to our liking.
    It was pure coincidence that, when this lady answered our advert for a trade on our MH for a smaller PVC (I've learned a new term today too), hers was just what we had been looking for.
    I haven't seen one like it either before or since.
     
  6. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    We live in and are surrounded by single track roads and our PVC can more or less go anywhere locally, including over hump backed bridges on Dartmoor. However, that wasn't the main reason we bought our Murvi, what we like is sitting in it somewhere sunny with the big side door open - it is as if the outdoors comes indoors so to speak. To us a conventional motorhome is more of a self-propelled caravan. Once inside you are to some extent isolated from the outdoors, nothing wrong with that, especially if the outdoors are cold and hostile but it is a bit claustrophobic for me. We also went for a smaller van for ease of parking in towns etc.

    Somewhere on this Forum there is a guide written by Jim on the pros and cons of the different motorhomes, I can't find it but it is there somewhere.

    By all means go to motorhome shows but beware of going from vehicle to vehicle and deciding the biggest has to be best. Of course if you have a couple of great flolloping dogs a PVC won't cut it unless you tow a trailer for them. :Smile:
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
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  7. pengy

    pengy Funster

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    That made me smile! No huge dogs - but lots of narrow roads!

    Just spent awhile looking at pictures of Trigano Tributes and thinking I may have to have a trip to the Birmingham area!
     
  8. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    i thought we were the only ones who love their big door, sitting with the door open we get to chat to so many people i can never understand why flimsies have such small doors
     
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  9. dshague

    dshague Funster

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    we have had all types of camper vans over the past 20 years been looking to change our 5 year old swift mondial but cannot find any van that suits and it will not cost a arm and a leg to change and for the same layout. if you can afford consider the new x250 fiat or peugeot better drive than the older ones, mel b is spot on with there post:thumb:
    lots of vans here http://motorhomes.autotrader.co.uk/...ude=53.26667&longitude=-4.33333&postcode=LL77
     
  10. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    One is a converted delivery van, one is a motor_home.

    Get sat in a load, only you can decide.
     
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  11. daisy mae

    daisy mae Read Only Funster

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    I have experience of both, I had a panel van to start off with, very nice and much sort after VW Auto-sleeper Topaz, had a very nice shower room across the back, every thing in it that a larger motor home had, but in bad weather could be claustrophobic if stuck inside for some time, very good fuel wise, high 3o`s to low 40`s per gallon, it was the 2.5tdi engine, after a year I decided to go one bigger ,It must have the same engine and Auto-sleeper, so now have a coach built, it is my every day vehicle so will go in car parking places, go down narrow lanes etc, so lovely and comfortable to drive and very economical on fuel, 35-37 mpg, beds /settees are so much more comfortable , the heater is brilliant, bigger fridge and four ring hob and an oven, blown air heating into shower room so can dry off wet clothing, best one by far of the two I had/have. That is just my take on it, It did take me a while to find them , I travelled up and down the country, the one I have now was a four hundred mile round trip, bought from a dealer I can highly recommend, have a 12 month warranty, which I have used and there was no quibble.

    Good luck.

    Margaret
     
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  12. maz

    maz Funster

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    If it's sunny and warm enough to want to sit in a PVC with a whacking great noisy sliding door left open, those of us with conventional motorhomes will be happily sitting outside soaking up the rays. :BigGrin:
     
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  13. Ed Excel

    Ed Excel Funster

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    It may be an advantage to have a narrower vehicle for mobility but that means there are restrictions on the inside.

    We changed from a PVC because: we had to back into the shower/toilet to look in the oven/low level cupboards, because of the narrow corridor between; there was only feet-up lounging for one because there was only one settee; night time 'trips' were difficult for the person in the rear birth (me) with having to climb over SWMBO; the shower tray got damaged because it was also the toilet floor and suffered heavy use.

    Some of these things could be overcome with choice of layout in a PVC, but we eliminated them all when we changed to a coach built, of the same length as the PVC.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  14. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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  15. Ed Excel

    Ed Excel Funster

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  16. DeuceBG

    DeuceBG Funster

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    As I said in my original post, a narrower exterior leads to the compromise of a narrower interior but perhaps we all need to remember that "PVC's" as we're now calling them started out as "Camper Vans".
    Traditional Camper Vans never had shower rooms and toilets etc and were designed for just that, Camping.
    Camper Vans were little more than a Car / Tent combination whereas Motorhomes have always been better equipped and have always tended to resemble Caravans.
    In fact, early ones consisted of actual Caravans grafted onto a lorry chassis.
    Comparing a PVC with a true Motorhome is somewhat unfair IMO as they are not really the same thing.
    There is another thread elsewhere asking, " Are Motorhomers and Caravanners the same?" but I think that a more interesting question would be, "Are Motorhomers and Camper-Vanners the same?"
    I think there are certain very real differences and unless you work out which side of the fence you're actually on you will find it difficult to choose the Unit that's right for you.
     
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  17. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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  18. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    My contribution to this is go do what Brian said and sit in lots of different vans :thumb:You will soon adjust the way you drive to the size of the van be it 6ft or 8ft wide -- Layout of the van is the single most important thing :thumb: Make up beds etc imagine making a coffee first thing or going to the loo in the middle of the night -can you do this without having to move beds etc? Think of what happens when it's raining -feet up lounging or sat bolt upright at a dinette? All have to be considered :thumb: Are you limited by a drive etc on size --for everyday use then size matters but the odd weekend / few weeks use not so much although longer stays = bigger van :BigGrin::Wink:It all depends on how you use the van :thumb:
    terry
     
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  19. Mastercamper

    Mastercamper Read Only Funster

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    I couldn`t agree more.
    I have always described my version of tin tenting, as campervanning. In a similar vein, I would not describe my tents as "homes".
    I prefer the freedom and cost advantage of a slightly smaller vehicle to the possible advantages of a coachbuilt or similar larger vehicle. Not only because we are only 2, and do not require extra space, but we ceased trying to impress others years ago.
    We also happen to like the "stealth" approach, or "freeloading tosser" approach, as some prefer to call it.
    Sad isn`t it, when we have a common aim, that we are compartmentalised by bigotry and people who would aim to make us all confirm to their own narrow viewpoint. My advice, if you really want it, is to do as you please, bear other people in mind, try to avoid the temptation to tell others what to do or how to run their lives and just get on with it. Life is for living, in the best possible way for yourself and leave the world a better place than you found it. :thumb::thumb:
     
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  20. mike9jr

    mike9jr Read Only Funster

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    For what its worth I went through all this recently. I had to decide what I needed my van for and how long I would be in it etc.

    I planned on extended trips, both UK, and next year, weeks and maybe months in Europe travelling and climbing. I wanted to be able to shower and toilet independantly, but was a little dubious about a huge luton roofed MH.

    So for my first van I went for a Fiat 2.0 deisel Besseccar E410 low profile. Small, but with a really comfy 2 birth interior that will (I hope) cover all the bases. I'm just getting to know the van and I am prepared to sell and buy something different if it doesn't suit my needs.

    Mike
     
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