Top 10 Motorhomes of all time
Following on from the success of his top 10 caravans article, Shield Total Insurance asked top caravan historian Andrew Jenkinson to name his best ever motorhomes and give us an idea why they mean so much to him.
10. An Autohomes entry here, this was after the parent Ci Group went bust and the company brands were sold off. Autohomes became a separate company and in 1985 they launched a cute coachbuilt based on a Bedford Rascal. Sleeping just two, this little motorhome was the Bambi which later was to be re-named the Nipper after Explorer Group purchased the Autohomes name in early 90’s. The Bambi had a small kitchen and a rear door entry while the cooker and sink were on opposite sides to each other. The Bambi would become a cult micro motorhome with an owners’ club being formed too. I just love the cute looks and the easy drive and parking of micro motorhomes such as the Bambi.
9. Bessacarr motorhomes have been a firm favourite of mine and are sadly now gone. The 2010 E695 I loved with the super end lounge area which was a very comfortable place to be especially near Fort William on a cold pre-New Year break! The E695 could sleep up to six and it also came with a great-sized central shower room. The kitchen, though lacking worktop, is still practical to use. Although a relatively large motorhome, it was easy to drive and with that Bessacarr badge you also felt a little bit special too. Loved this motorhome and it had to go in my top ten!
8. Sadly this company went out of production last year; it was a sad day as Nu Venture had a nice niche market. They built mini coachbuilts mainly using Fiat and Citroen base units. They were well finished and well designed too. The Nu Venture Micro was a cracking motorhome for two people. It came with overcab storage and a good kitchen area too. With a compact size, the Nu Venture team at Wigan knew how to design their motorhomes well. The quality exterior mouldings and a neat end side washroom were all part of the Nu Venture/Nu Rio Micro features. Although gone I still think these were great motorhomes!
7. Dormobile were the real hero of the birth of popular affordable motorhomes. Brilliant on the old Bedford CA’s delivery van, the Dormobile factory expanded quickly in the late 50’s. The famous candy stripe raised roof led the way but they did some GRP units too and ones of these was the most well known – the Debonair. The mouldings made the Debonair at the front almost an A-Class before its time such was the styling of the combined cab and main living area. Plenty of window area gave these motorhomes style and also allowed in plenty of natural light too. A popular classic motorhome, the Debonair was a favourite of mine after seeing one when a youngster.
6. Now to be honest this was a favourite of mine too back in the day, when Bluebird Motorised became Autohomes. The Poole factory was in full swing with some top-selling campervans as well as coachbuilts. The Autohome had design influenced by the Ogle group – famous for the Bond Bug in the early 70’s. The new Ci Autohomes were built on all the popular chassis of the time with many using Ford Transits. It was modern inside and boasted washroom, good kitchen dinette and overcab bed. Back in the day they looked smart inside and out I remember them new at our local motorhome dealership in the mid 70’s.
5. I have always liked Auto-Sleepers, especially the coachbuilt motorhomes. Back in 2014 I had one for a week and loved it; mine was the Broadway – a compact end kitchen two berth which came laden with kit. Plenty of goodies as standard and an interior quality that you could die for, with great cabinet work and a well specified kitchen area. The central dinette allows seating for up to four with comfort and makes into twin beds or a large double. The side shower is practical and the Broadway is easy to drive and handle too. It’s in at number five then halfway through my top ten list!
4. This little Fiat micro motorhome was converted by several manufacturers in the 70’s, What’s more I remember one of my teachers buying one new in 1973 and coming to school in it. He was quite tall so looked a little odd in the Fiesta which could sleep four. It was small but it had a kitchen and well thought out storage and seating ideal for a small family. You could also add an exterior awning tent which doubled the size and space which I reckon most folk bought with the Fiat. The roof raised and two beds were also added making it a full family unit. Many were sold but sadly few survive any longer due to old Fiat’s quick rust bodywork – it didn’t stand a chance of surviving UK salt-laden winter roads!
3. A great motorhome from Swift, the entry-level Edge line up launched for 2020. It’s a sheer value for money motorhome. Maybe not quite as cheap as we had hoped, but still incredible value at the same time. A good choice of layouts: my favourite is the 486 which comes with great storage plus plenty of space and sleeps up to six – all for less than £49k on the road. Rear lounge area is quite private while an offside side dinette is ideal for four to eat at. The 486 has a good-sized kitchen ideal for creating meals for up to six. A great motorhome that doesn’t cost the earth!
2. The Compass Avantgarde range is a very close second here. This two-berth end kitchen model – the 115 – is a very smart and well designed motorhome for two. Now its sister range from Elddis is also a good, but to my mind the launch of the Compass motorhome range was a master stroke. Bringing in an interior from the Compass tourer range the Avantgarde feels so much more up-market and also far more modern. With a great spec and plenty of storage the 115 grabbed my attention for a couple of years; it’s a central lounge low-profile motorhome that will be ideal for those wanting a spacious yet compact motorhome for two.
1. Swift Escape 622 – loved the Escape range when it was introduced several years ago and it shows just what a UK maker can do. The Escape offered sheer value with that Swift badge and for 2020 the range is as strong as ever. My top pick is the 622 which sleeps two and comes with a full wrap–around rear lounge area offering great space for two or more. Below £48k this two berth offers a decent spec with a well-equipped side kitchen plus a well-designed washroom too. It’s a spacious motorhome that has made it to my number one and deservedly so.
If you have a favourite tourer, check us out on social media and drop us a photo telling us why you like it so much.