Which type of motorhome is best for you?
Well the rather obvious ‘size matters’ illustrates the issue well. Small vans are ideal for driving but large ‘vans are better for living. This is typical of the whole motorhome scene where compromise is a factor that keeps cropping up again and again.
A lot can be achieved in smaller vehicles by clever design to make each fitting perform more than one task like the dining area that turns into a bed. In contrast a larger ‘van can offer a full size shower, separate toilet compartment and a fixed bed and enough beds for a family too.
The real point here is that it’s up to you to decide. We’re all different and our holiday styles, parking spaces and budgets are all different too so you ‘pays your money and takes your choice’!
A hightop is basically a panel van or delivery van conversion with a special high fixed roof. The ‘wheelbase’ of the van chassis has a strong influence on available space since the width is more or less fixed. Long wheelbase vans give the most space but can be unwieldy to drive. A medium wheelbase is the most popular on newer vans, medium wheelbase vans are not usually available on older types of vans. They are often referred to as a ‘camper’ or ‘campervan’ or even Dormobile after one of the original manufacturers.
A variant of the above with a ‘folding roof’ to lower the overall profile. Also known as a ‘pop-top’. Has obvious advantages when driving but there are some problems with insulation and water ingress.
Some of the more popular rising roof motorhomes are the Mazda Bongo and it’s other rebadged variation the Ford Freda.
An extended chassis on a van cab with a coachbuilt living space, rather like having a high spec caravan on the back. The wider ‘caravan’ body allows designers to cleverly incorporate almost everything you could need into quite a small space – even cross-body beds big enough for a six footer. Frequently called a ‘motorcaravan’. Also known as a C-Class in the UK. Many have overcab beds in the ‘Luton’ but there are also ‘low-profile’ versions of these motorcaravans without the Luton over-cab space and sometimes with a lower roofline, these vans are much more economical on motorways due to their improved aerodynamics.
A medium or largish ‘van completely coachbuilt – i.e. with nothing of the original van bodywork or cab exterior. Potentially the best design since almost everything is based on the needs of motorcaravanners but they are usually rather expensive and historically not that popular in the UK though this is changing. These days they are about 2.2 metres wide like the c-class coachbuilts and often have a transverse ‘drop-down’ double bed stored in the roof over the cab seats offering much more headroom than the Luton bed in a c-class. Often only 3 berth. The posh end of the market and often referred to as a ‘motorhome’.
American motorcaravans built in the style that only the Americans do! Often very large with all mod cons including multiple air conditioning, on-board freezers and generators and with huge diesel or petrol engines that are very expensive to run in Europe – although many of the petrol versions have now been converted to run on LPG.
Base vehicles are frequently coach type bodies but full A-Class versions exist too.