Motorhome Buyers Guide – Motorhome Types


Some people get confused with all the different names and styles of motorhome, this Motorhome Buyers guide article will guide you through the different types and give you examples of each.

Essentially most every motorhome is the same, in as much as they almost all have bedroom, toilets, shower, kitchen and lounge etc.  A large American RV will have a separate area for all of those places; a proper bedroom with a door, a separate shower and toilet along with a full size kitchen, dining area and a lounge.  The panel van has the same facilities, but all in the same space. The toilet becomes the shower, you eat in the lounge, then in the evening the lounge gets converted to a bedroom etc. 

So what’s in a name?

A Class, B Class, C Class, RV, Campervan, Micro-van, Self Build, Coachbuilt, Panel Van Conversion etc etc  Watch the following video for guide to the text that follows.

 The Motorhome Buyers Guide to different motorhome types

The A Class Motorhome

Motorhome buyers Guide | A Class Motorhome

A Hymer A Class Motorhome

A class vans come in all sizes. That giant American RV you saw was probably an A Class, the small Hymer motorhomes that are so popular here and on the continent is more likely to be an A Class than any other. Every motorhome, even A Class ones, are based upon an existing vehicle, such as a truck or van. This is then converted into a motorhome.  All the bodywork on an A Class motorhome is built by the motorhome maker, they don’t use any of the original bodywork. They start with just the chassis and an engine, the result is a motorhome without compromise, in as much as the maker and produce the motorhome shell to any design shape they like.  This means that A Class cabs can incorporate drop down beds, and they very often do. European A Class are normally around 2.2m wide down their whole length

Panel Van Conversions or B Class Motorhomes

A High-Top Panel Van Conversion

A High-Top Panel Van Conversion

Think of the classic courier delivery van; normally a high top so the delivery guy can stand up in the back. These make excellent vehicles to convert into motorhomes. Many see the panel van conversion as the ultimate motorhome. It offers all the comforts of home in a small package that will go anywhere. Some long wheelbase versions have facilities to rival much larger motorhomes, including full size shower and toilet. If you want to explore the highways and byways of Europe and beyond, then the Panel Van is ideal.

Campervans, Day-Vans, Micro Vans

Smaller panel van conversions don’t normally have toilets. They may  have rising roofs or pop-top which are really only good for summer camping.  Americans call this small camper a ‘day-van’ and this does describe it well. For getting away for weekends these are ideal; for longer periods you might struggle. That said, longer stays on campsites that have full facilities are of course possible. Some micro vans are actually a car conversion rather than a panel van.

The C Class

An Auto-Trail C Class Motorhome

The C Class van keeps the original cab and has the living area bolted onto it. Normally this means that the cab area is redundant when stationary, but modern design is better in incorporating the front seats into the living area . The C Class is the most common motorhome in Europe by miles. The reasons for this is clear, they are great at what they do and they are affordable. An average C Class motorhome can take a whole family and their dog on holiday in style; with plenty of room for storage and sleeping. Most of the C Classes have a large overhead cab double bed, kids love these, parents love them too because and it gets the kids out of the way in the evening.

The Self Build

Some people are clever enough to build their own motorhomes. The majority of those motorhomes are fantastic, others not quite so. They are normally highly personalised vehicles and give their owners much enjoyment and satisfaction. There are lots of reasons for building your own motorhome. Some do it to save cash, others do it to have the  ‘perfect’ motorhome and spend more than an ‘off the shelf’ motorhome might cost, this is especially so for those that want a go-anywhere motorhome for an expeditions off the beaten track.

This delightful ambulance conversion. At home on an Oxford campsite in 2013


 American Motorhomes

American motorhomes use the same ABC classifications as we do.

An American A Class RV

In America all vehicles that you go ‘camping’ from a Trailer (caravan) to the most expensive A class are all called Recreational Vehicles RV’s  Some RV’s have become popular in the UK. Large A Class motorhomes will have slide-outs that once, pitched up on site can almost double the living area. The largest will require you have have taken a test to drive such heavy vehicles.


The Fiver

The Fifth Wheel Towable

The fifth wheel, 5th wheel or ‘Fiver’ is a towable motorhome that connects to the towing vehicle directly above the rear axle by way of a special fifth wheel hitch; similar to that used by articulated trucks. This causes several feet of the connected trailer to hang over the towing vehicle, placing about 15% of the fivers weight on the rear axle of the truck. It is easier to maneuver than a regular caravan and unlike a caravan it is often equipped with on board water and waste tanks.


This is an extract from the Motorhome Buyers Guide which you can find here


About Author

Jim is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. Averaging 12000 motorhome miles a year. He has owned many motorhomes both British and Continental. His present motorhome is a 27ft C class RV.


  1. Pamela Gibbard on

    There is a typo in the van concession. fill shower not full.

    Could your somewhere in your article explain some differences in European v British MHs. I need to understand the term fully winterised.

    Just a thought!

  2. Pamela, the term ‘Winterising’ comes from the marine world. A fully winterised camper will have its water tanks flushed and emptied, all gas systems locked off, waste water tanks emptied and sanitized, fridges treated with milton etc to stop any mould/mildew issues. Batteries put on trickle charge etc etc.

    Basically so when you come to use it in the spring, it is in a fit state to use.

  3. lenze middelberg on

    As to your statement ” Every motorhome, even A Class ones, are based upon an existing vehicle, such as a truck or van. This is then converted into a motorhome”

    This is not entirely right : have a look at the gmc motorhome build 73-78

    Build on his own frame, probably the only one

  4. adil jawaid on

    We are 7 friends we go from Vancouver bc to Toronto and back .we need bus moter home

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