Asking for tips when buying a new Motorhome at the NEC (1 Viewer)

Sep 30, 2018
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Apologies for the long waffly post, but I wanted to give plenty of background before we asked for your help.

We are just a few weeks away from completing the sale of our house and having the cash available for our new motorhome. Probably late July/early August. We are not totally restricted by budget but, like everyone, want value for money and the spend as little as practical.

We are experienced travellers (3 continents, Arctic Circle and Sahara in a Land Rover Discovery) and have done oodles and oodles of research on layouts, makes, extras, etc. etc. and have finalised our choice down to a Swift Escape 622 auto (or dealer variant).

The dealer 'special editions' (Champagne, Freestyle, Coastline, Carmarge, Seeker, Vogue, Spirit, etc. etc.) pack in several useful extras, over the basic Escape model, for not a lot extra dosh and would seem a good option. Sadly, due to the time of year, the 2019 versions of these models have all but disappeared from the forecourts and won't be replaced until the 2020 'influx' after September/October.

So we face a dilemma (albeit a good one). Do we opt for a 2019 base Escape model that has been on the forecourt for while and bolt the extra bits on ourselves or do we wait for the NEC show and the 'new release' of 2020 dealer specials?

Option 1 gives the possibility of a lower price and chance to haggle to clear the dealer's forecourt ready for new models and get us the motorhome earlier so we can enjoy an extra few months of this summer.

Option 2 gives the possibility of a newer, better spec'd van, more choice of colours, graphics, trim, etc. and a 'show deal'.

We have visited the show in previous years and know that deals can be had, but would love to hear from anyone that has actually bought at the show and just how much they managed to haggle the price down or amount of added extras they got thrown in.

We'd especially love to hear from anyone that has bought a 'dealer special' to see what kind of lead time applies to show purchases. The fact that all the relevant dealers will be within walking distance of each other, all with comparable trim/spec'd models should help with some leverage (or does it?)

Any show specific tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Ralph & Belinda



PS. There is an Option 3 which is a secondhand model. If the right one pops up at the right time, we would definitely consider it as a viable alternative, but our initial preference is for a new model.
 

lorger

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Are you planning on living in your van full time, if so I'd go for an older quality van rather than an entry level new one.
 
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Ralph Hardwick
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Option 3 after all the warranty headache jobs have been taken care of
Sounds good, if it wasn't for the number of threads I read on here about people getting rid of vans because of all the warranty headaches. I would hate to inherit someone else's 'reject'.

Also, there has to be one available.

Are you planning on living in your van full time, if so I'd go for an older quality van rather than an entry level new one.

Sorry, I should have said. We're planning several long trips (3-4 months) but won't be full-timers.
 
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Wombles

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Been there (many times), done it & got the t-shirt! We bought our first motorhome at one of the October NEC Shows then imported our next one. As you asked - from our previous NEC Show threads here's some hints & tips for the October one:

Tickets are cheaper ordered in advance online but possible to pay on the day at the NEC. If it does get to capacity (possible on Saturday & Sunday) then the NEC Box Office closes & then only those who already have tickets are allowed in.
Weekdays are much quieter than the weekends so better to walk around & not have to queue.
Parking is included in the cost of your ticket & plenty of room to park the motorhome but not allowed to stay overnight. Car parks are normally some distance away from the main building & as lots of Show halls to walk around so might be a good idea to hop on the free shuttle bus that takes you from the car park to the main entrance but don't forget to note which car park you are in! Also they run from outside the Atrium entrance from 8am-7pm - don't miss the last one or you might have a long walk to your car park.
Sensible shoes - not just because of the large area that you might cover but also going up & down all those motorhome steps of varying heights safely.
Wear layers as although may be cold outside it gets really hot in the halls with all the lights & people.
Taking a rucksack with food & drinks is a good idea as cheaper & don't have to queue. Suggest only one rucksack if two of you as some manufacturers don't allow them to be taken into their premium models so may have to take it in turns or leave it outside.
There is the option of visiting M&S Simply Food at the nearby airport by walking then using the free Air-Rail link - it's a bit of a walk but easy. Any NEC staff should be able to point you in the right direction as they are normally friendly & helpful.
You can go in & out of the halls freely just don't forget to get your hand stamped the first time you leave. When it's busy & crowded being able to get outside in the fresh air for a break is really good. Another Funster suggested that it's easier to go out of a hall into the walkway then back into the next one rather than walk through the halls if lots of crowds (y)
Look out for competitions to enter - could make your trip really worthwhile :)
Pace yourself - it can be a lot to get around & if you have a limited time suggest planning & prioritising the stands you want to see in advance from the online Show Guide & download the floor plan from here on your phone - these are both on their website about a week before the Show.
Can pick up the paper copy of the free Show Guide on arrival - as mentioned above it can be handy to tear out the maps & have them handy.
There is free Wi-Fi in the walkways outside the halls so worth checking any prices or information online before buying - some sales staff don't know all the facts or might even make it up to get a sale :(
Take photos of Show prices & layouts (there are usually boards outside each motorhome) & anything else that you might forget later. It's easy to be dazzled by all the glitz & excitement of the Show.
If getting a quote for a motorhome that is of interest & you are sitting down with a salesman then don't forget to mention that you would love a tea or coffee as many have hospitality facilities so then you will have had a break & a drink at the very least.
Ask for a cooling off period with your choice of motorhome held if you do agree a sale - 24 hours is normal.
Be friendly & smile - it's long hours & hard work on the stands so more likely to get a good deal if you are likeable not demanding :smiley:

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Ralph Hardwick
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Thanks @Wombles . All good info. We have been to many shows at the NEC (Motorhome and others) and so we are well versed with the ins and outs of 'show-going' (y). We have booked 2 nights at the nearby Premier Inn (16th and 17th) so we can dedicate plenty of time without worrying about the 3 hour drive home.
We managed to get free tickets, from Brownhills, for the February show. So, hopefully we can do the same again in October.

I do intend to contact each of the dealers beforehand with a series of questions and to drop a subtle hint that we would like some tickets;)
 
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hilldweller

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People do seem to be mesmerised by exhibitions judging by the "why did I do it" posts on here.

They do seem to promise the earth and eventually delivery much less.

Second hand, well you are right, are you going to inherit someone else's reject or someone else's sad tale of must sell or you can get your own brand new set of problems.
 
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Wombles

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Thanks @Wombles . All good info. We have been to many shows at the NEC (Motorhome and others) and so we are well versed with the ins and outs of 'show-going' (y). We have booked 2 nights at the nearby Premier Inn (16th and 17th) so we can dedicate plenty of time without worrying about the 3 hour drive home.
We managed to get free tickets, from Brownhills, for the February show. So, hopefully we can do the same again in October.

I do intend to contact each of the dealers beforehand with a series of questions and to drop a subtle hint that we would like some tickets;)
Sounds like you are well prepared (y) If you end up with any spare ones then we could make good use of them as we normally go for a couple of days to see what's new & if there are any deals or discounts, that might be useful for us & Funsters, to post on the forum.
 
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Cheshirecat57

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Just be aware that if you buy a 19 model that is left in stock, it may well have been converted in mid-late 2018 and may have left the Fiat factory early 2018 ( check the tyre dates)

Also, there is a good chance that it may have visited a couple of shows and/or been in a showroom for months with THOUSANDS of people having been through it
Not to mention what the dealer has nicked off it whilst in stock to service a last-minute-handover.com on another one going out with missing bits that they nicked last year

Personally, I would NEVER buy another in stock or demo
As regards the Swift escape- Im the wrong person to ask after my experience last year
 
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First thing, about a couple of weeks before the NEC show contact Brownhills and show an interest. When they ask when you'd like to come and view give a date that coincides with the NEC show. They will more than likely invite you to the show, pay your entrance, give you morning coffee and a light breakfast then later on give you a lunch with coffee. We were really interested in the Adria and they invited us down with all the trimmings, they didn't have the actual Adria model we wanted so took us around to the Adria stand to see the one on offer, and there was the dealer from Signature Preston who we'd spoke to a few weeks earlier. Got a great deal from them. We later put the deal to Brownhills but they couldn't match it. They weren't too bothered that we'd used their offer, maybe they shouldn't have taken us to see another stand. One of the things I noticed about Adria was that they seemed to be rushing deals through in time for the last Brexit deadline. With the proposed extension to Brexit, they and other European manufacturers may do the same if a 'no deal' scenario looks likely.
 
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You say you are looking for value for money,in which case I think you would be better off buying second hand,and going for a quality van,rather than an also ran.
Don’t see the point of buying at a show,too much hype and enthusiasm is not a good deal maker.
 
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Well that`s our 13th year & still loving it.
Some good advice already given, I would add to why would you want to buy an entry level budget van like the Swift escape? they do have a dreadful history of damp and swift don't have the best of names, if you intend to use it for such lengthy trips I would think a higher grade of van would be a better decision.
Don't know where you live currently but have a look a Premier Motorhomes in Chichester they beat all the deals we had been offered by £7800 which made our choice simple despite them being over 300 miles away.

Do take note that these show vans have been around a bit with hundreds of people tramping through them, a secondhand motorhome will cost you a lot less than buying new if only for the VAT saving, if worried about buying someone else's problems then the dealer if honest shouldn't mind you contacting them to ask about the history.

You need to spend time whilst viewing to see how you will move around it, assess the storage and build quality etc etc. Whichever you choose we wish you luck.
 
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eddie

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To nail my colours to a mast I own a motorhome accessory company and would advise you to chose the motorhome that you want based on your personal criteria and then research the market and buy equipment that is the best available rather than the cheapest the motorhome converters buying department. Imagine the conversation in 2018, Sales department "We need an XYZ package to compete with the others, Camera, Sat Nav Inverter"

At the end of the meeting it is left up to the buyers to get the items as cheaply as possible, regardless of performance. Alternatively, some mid to high end manufacturers (German) will simply offer everything that Dometic (based in Germany) do, but at ridiculous prices. Last time I checked one German converter was quoting circa £9K plus VAT for their generator option, which was a Dometic TEC29 which at the time was listed with a SSP at £4,700 including VAT on the Dometic price lists.

Twist a dealers arm to chuck in a TV in the deal and you can pretty much guarantee that it will be the cheapest that they can lay their hands on not the top end Avtex that you had in mind when you suggested it.

Basically you will not logically get the best possible price, and get a load of extras thrown in the deal and get the quality or the performance that you were expecting/hoping for. Negotiate the best possible price you can and use some of the saving to have the accessoires (toys) that you had already identified you needed/wanted/couldn't live without installed by specialists offering the best on the market, not something so cheap that they can chuck it in as part of a deal!

Go to Currys and look at the difference in quality between the sets, there is, in the main, a direct correlation between picture quality and price. If you were going to give a 32" TV away to a stranger as a part of a deal you'll be looking for the best buy 32" If your buying it for yourself, you would be looking forward to the best picture quality!

As an exhibitor at shows for nearly 30 years, the last place that I would place an order for a new motorhome, car or boat would be a show!

But as I say, I own one such company, which I repeat to save people jumping down my throat that my advice is biased, which it is, and also reasonable, logical and sensible!

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funflair

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And don't buy from a dealer miles away from home as when you have problems that need fixing under warranty they will be miles away from home, they might tell you any Swift or whatever model dealer will do your warranty work and while that may be the theory it rarely works in reality.

And lastly value for money isn't what you pay upfront it's what it has cost you by the time you come to sell.

Martin
 
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Kannon Fodda

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I don't necessarily see a problem in buying through a major show provided you have done your research before hand. Larger shows spend a couple of days even if you are certain you want to buy. Day one do all the viewings and check out the deals and who is offering them. Then go back to hotel, or wherever. Look up what ever you need online to see if the dealer does stack up, is it really a good offer, and all sorts. The interweb is a wonderful thing. Day to is when you put the money down.

I don't necessarily see it as a problem buying a budget model rather than something expensive. Plenty of people are quite happy driving around in their Vauxhall and Ford rather than a BMW or Mercedes. Yes if stuff is bundled for free such as TV it might not be as good as something you'd buy. But in terms of the base van, whether you buy Swift or Adria, they are still a Ducato / Boxer, it's only the conversion difference. Provided you are happy you have a reliable converter, what's the concern?
 
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The late autumn is the best time to buy a new motorhome, but not from the shows IMHO. There will always be bargain 2019 models because the 2020 stock will start arriving in October and the dealer will have difficulty selling the "old" stock without discounting, so that is what they do. I saved a lot of money on my 2015 Hymer A class when I bought it in November 2015. OK it had 500 miles on the clock because it had been driven to some shows, but I was still the first owner on the V5 because they used trade plates.

I also agree with others that say I would rather buy a quality built second hand motorhome than a budget new one for the same price. It will last longer if you decide to keep it and its resale price will be higher if you decide not to. The former point becomes even more important if you are going to be using it a lot. Motorhomes are more fragile than brick and block houses.

By the way I am biased in that both my motorhomes were European with fixed comfortable beds. Much better than making up beds each night and sleeping on something that was designed to be a settee. Had enough of that in my caravanning days.
 
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Lenny HB

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By the way I am biased in that both my motorhomes were European with fixed comfortable beds. Much better than making up beds each night and sleeping on something that was designed to be a settee. Had enough of that in my caravanning days.
Didn't bother checking the model until your post Peter.
Making up beds on a 3-4 month trip is the last thing you need, we would never entertain a model without fixed beds.
 
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Southdowners

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Where do you intend to travel when you get your motorhome? Judging by what you say of your previous travels I would think it likely that you'd be adventurous motorhomer. If that's the case, and even if you aren't, I would do as others have suggested and look for a better quality vehicle than the ones listed in your post.

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Ralph Hardwick
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Thank you all. With regard to choosing the Swift 622, it is all down to layout. As you all know almost everything about motorhomes is a compromise. We decided our criteria which had some 'must haves', some 'preferred but might gives' and some 'nice to have if they fit'.

We do intend to (possibly) be a bit more adventurous so we wanted to keep the van as short (so manoeuvrable) as possible. Remember, we are used to a 5m Land Rover. We do intend to go to some warmer climes where sitting outside is more preferable than inside.

Although we will do some longer trips, most of our time will be spent in the UK, so a nearside habitation door is preferred. This rules out almost all of the European makes.

I want an automatic this rules out Bailey and Eldiss as they only use the Peugeot base. Auto sleeper only do auto on the Sprinter base but that IS over our budget. They will offer a Fiat option but it has a very long lead time and is still expensive (albeit good quality) considering the benefits.

We started our search open to any brand, any size and by a process of elimination ended up with the 622. This layout 'ticked more boxes', compromised the least We checked the driving position (I'm over 6' and prefer a laid back position), the shower size, toilet height and knee room (I kid you not). The water capacity, the payload, the storage layout, etc. etc. We tried van conversions and coachbuilt and we considered converting one ourselves ( I am an ex-engineer).

We checked every conceivable detail (that we could) and considered them in all the different environments and situations that we had encountered.

We tried many of the fixed beds in many different vans (french, Island, transverse, longitudinal, drop down, etc. etc.). I hate to admit that both the wife and I are rather 'well fed' so some of these 'so-called' double beds required a level of spooning and movement coordination that we gave up many years ago!

My wife has problems with her knees/hips so a low bed is a must. We both make regular midnight trips to the bathroom, so a single bed option is preferred to stop one of us having to climb over the other in the night.

The 622 layout allows for a double or single bed layout. With swivel seats (I would have to add these) it gives us a small sitting/breakfast area at the front whilst allowing us to keep the bed 'made up' at the rear. In warmer climes we will be sitting outside anyway, if the weather turns then we may well have to pack down the bed, but the extra 1.5-2m length to accommodate a fixed bed puts the van in the 'way, way too long' category for some of the places we have in mind. We looked at drop down beds (we hire a Roller Team 590) but the majority don't come down far enough and those that do require so much dismantling of the furniture below that you might as well make up a bed anyway! Also, bear in mind that we used to spend months on end climbing a ladder into a roof tent! Wiggling a few cushions around will be an absolute luxury:D.

I would love to buy a secondhand (or new) automatic motorhome that meets all these criteria from a nearby dealer. Sadly (from that one perspective) we live near Gt. Yarmouth. We do have two good dealers close by (Simpsons and Becks) and we scour their forecourts regularly and if something appears we will go down that route.

Our nearest Swift dealer is nearly 80 miles away and has very limited stock.

So, hopefully, you can see why we have ended up with the 622. Is it perfect? No. Would we prefer a non-entry level model? Yes. Is it the best compromise taking into account our criteria? We think (hope) so.:)

With regard to buying at the show or before, thanks for all the comments. The point that @eddievanbitz makes is very valid and something we will take on board, thanks(y).

I have read the buyers guide in the resources section, but any more advice would be more than welcome.
 
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Silver-Fox

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Didn't bother checking the model until your post Peter.
Making up beds on a 3-4 month trip is the last thing you need, we would never entertain a model without fixed beds.

Having done that for nearly 3 months when away in one trip I agree.
If you have a fixed bed it’s another area you can have me time if you wish.
 
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Ralph Hardwick
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Struggling to understand why a door on the off side is such a problem. After all you get in and out of such a door every time you drive a UK car, and that is often when it is on the road Most of the time we use the hab door when we are parked up somewhere away from a road.

It's not particularly a 'problem' as such, it's just a preference. If a 'foreign' van met all the other criteria then I would happily compromise on that point.

Having done that for nearly 3 months when away in one trip I agree.
If you have a fixed bed it’s another area you can have me time if you wish.

We would prefer a fixed bed, but the extra length came along with it. It is always fair to say that "one man's compromise is another man's step too far".

We believe that the 6' x 6' made up bed in the 622 gives us a humungous sleeping space as well as the option to leave it made up all the time, whilst keeping the overall van length down.
 
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RobL

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Buy used every time. Any niggles will have been sorted and hopefully it will have extras fitted. I paid £8000 VAT on my first motorhome and really regretted it. A lot of problems needed to be sorted out. I would never buy new again.

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Blue Knight

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Ralph,

You seem to have made up your mind so that just leaves you to find a van at the right price.

Have you been able to establish a price point for the van yet?

All the best,

Andrew
 
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Lenny HB

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Buy used every time. Any niggles will have been sorted and hopefully it will have extras fitted. I paid £8000 VAT on my first motorhome and really regretted it. A lot of problems needed to be sorted out. I would never buy new again.
What has the vat got to do with it totally irrelevant. Only ever bought new, depeciation has been very low and I get to order exactly what I want.
 
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Ralph Hardwick
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Ralph,

You seem to have made up your mind so that just leaves you to find a van at the right price.

Have you been able to establish a price point for the van yet?

All the best,

Andrew

We are more than willing to change our mind, but as things stand the layout of the 622 is the closest to our ideal and Swift are the only ones that make it!

It has taken a long, slow, frustrating 7 months to sell our house. In that time we have been watching all the dealer websites and watching our perfect van disappear over and over. The most recent was Brownhills with 2 Champagne 622 autos that went for £46k and £48k respectively in the last week :(:mad:. That was the 'discounted' screen price, reduced from £50k+. They had been on the forecourt since January and March.
Currently, no other dealer has any 622 'specials' showing.
There are a couple of Escape 622 autos advertised at £44k-ish. The RRP is supposedly just under £50k.

So, based on windscreen prices. the 'special edition' is around £2k-£4k more. The extras include reverse camera, sat nav, awning, external 240v and BBQ sockets, alloy wheels, different cab/trim colours, door window, omivent and 100W solar panel.
Some of these I'm not that bothered about and most of them I could add afterwards.

But it hasn't got a front lounge so nowhere to sit if the bed is made up.

There is enough room to add swivels to the driving seats. Using a small table and tripod would give us a small sitting/breakfast area at the front. Similar to the Autotrail 635 SE or Rio 320.

we would mainly sit outside unless the weather is too yuck.
 
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