We’ve found our new home!
The whole thing went infinitely more smoothly than we expected — it was the second motorhome we looked at, too. In Birmingham (specifically, Solihull), we stayed with Keith and Olga, my great aunt and uncle, and met Trevor and Jane, my…first cousin, once removed, according to Yahoo answers, and her husband. They are fulltime motorhomers and really took us under their wing.
They had some contacts who sold motorhomes, and got in touch with them for us. One contact, a motorhome dealer, Trevor and Jane had met in Spain and were quite friendly with, and also a motorhomer, couldn’t be contacted. I idly googled the name of his company ‘Motorhomes R Us’ and, surprisingly, somehow stumbled across a working phone number someone had left on a forum posting. He reported a couple of potentials in the yard, so Trevor and Jane generously drove us one and a half hours south to a little village called Chipping Sodbury.
The first motorhome we looked at, a ’94 Fiat Hymer, was fantastic — very mechanically sound, a robust and popular model, with a fixed bed at the back. Then, the second one we looked at, almost identical to the first, but a year earlier — a ’93 Fiat Hymer — and with the same robust mechanics, had a ‘dinette’/workstation at the back instead of the bed.
We spent about 20 minutes inside looking around; it quickly dawned on us that it ticked every one of the things on our wishlist, far above and beyond what we were expecting:
- Bathroom (toilet and shower)
- Diesel (2.5 Turbo Diesel engine — very solid and reliable)
- 3 burner gas stove
- Three-way fridge/freezer
- Under 3.5 tons
- Left hand drive
- Gas heater (and AC)
- Bike rack on the back
- Big safe
- Two workspaces
The bed, a double, pulls down from above the cab — it can be left with bedding on it, and just pushes up out of the way during the day so the space is used efficiently. It’s got plenty of room to sit up in bed, unlike a lot of the models we looked at previously.
We took it for a test drive (something I’d been dreading and had been cultivating a good bunch of stomach butterflies over), me behind the wheel with Steve the dealer sitting beside me guiding patiently as I routinely drifted towards the wrong side of the road, took roundabouts about twice the speed I should’ve, and missed the entrance to the yard at the end, then having to go around the block again. Driving a decent sized van from the other side of the car wasn’t quite as hairy as I was expecting, though, so I’m not quite as nervous as I was.
Steve made us a great offer that included a year warranty, which floored us (if any, 3 months is usual), and also agreed to install an LPG gas tank for the stove/heating/fridge/hot water (better than detachable propane tanks, apparently), a 300W pure sine wave inverter, solid leisure battery and security locks on the doors. We decided against on oven/microwave, as we don’t really need either and the space is more valuable.
The ’93 and ’94 Hymer models are apparently particularly good quality — lesser quality models replaced them in ’95, with poorer construction and less durability, so we’re quite happy there. It’s a similar model to Trevor and Jane’s first motorhome too, which they were very fond of.
So, we got a motorhome that meets our needs perfectly, and from a dealer who we trust and have a personal connection with. No trawling eBay and driving all around the country to look at individual vehicles. We paid £14,000, with one or two hundred more to be paid for a couple of late additions.
Now we have to wait until the international bank transfer completes (we were hoping to pick it up tomorrow, but apparently will now have to wait until Monday). We can’t wait! More photos when we’re in. Then the home-making begins.