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New Chassis and Cab or Scrap?


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I need some advice from fellow Motorhomes owners please.


Six years ago, I bought a Hobby 600 motorhome, Fiat Ducato, on a D plate, making it a 1987.


Hubby and I enjoyed it but the lack of power steering made it hard work to drive, especially on small uphill climbs.


So she got left in storage, and has been there for the last three years, as illness just put all thoughts of her to the back of our minds.


The storage place, assured us that they were starting her on a regular basis, so we declared her SORN and just kept paying the insurance.


Today, hubby went to have a look at her, and came home very upset.


It appears they moved her to a dumping ground where they appear to dump tyres etc., and she is just covered with rust.. at least the cab is.


We cant leave her there, so its time to do something.


My question is, has anyone had a new cab/chassis fitted and if so what likely cost is involved.


Another question, do you think we should just have her taken to a coachbuilder to clean her up?


Can power steering be added to this model, does anyone know?


We are totally to blame, having stuck our heads in the sand, but now we need to do something, and such a fine old van should not end up this way.


I live in the North East so if anyone knows anywhere that can help locally I would be grateful.




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I know someone who did on a transit about 6 years ago cost over £2000 to transfer the body onto another chassis cab plus the cost of the vehicle, was done in Dorset so not much help to you.

You would need to find a chassis of exactly same model & similar vintage if you are going to have any chance of the body fitting. With the age of the van I would not have thought it financially viable. Any vehicle you buy would probably require a fair bit of work so you could be into 4 or 5 grand buy the time you have finished.


I would have thought the body shop option is the best one, mechanical bits can always be replaced & so can most body panels as long as the chassis is not too far gone, it wouldn't hurt to get a quote you never know you may get a pleasant surprise.





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Hi and Welcome!




OK - this is only one personal view:


Don't waste any more money on it.

The cost of buying another chassis-cab and then getting the body transferred must surely be massive.......many thousands of pounds.

And is another old, secondhand chassis cab gonna be much less rusty and knackered?




Maybe just get what you can for it from a breakers, after you've taken out any kit that might prove useful in another MH in future.


If you want to start Motorhoming again, perhaps instead buy a cheapo second-hand (maybe 5th hand?) MH......hundreds of them on ebay for maybe 2 or 3 grand upwards.


Dunno what sort of thing you might fancy, but here are a couple of cheapo examples (Remember, the advertised price is what they are asking, not what they'd probably actually accept!)









Maybe worth thinking about perhaps........



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Thank you for the help, its much appreciated.


I think I knew in my own mind it wasnt going to be possible, but thought it best to ask the opinion of others.


We looked yesterday at a Hymer, which caught our eye in passing, hence we decided we couldnt ignore the problem any longer..


I think a call to a local coachworks tomorrow to see if they can salvage her is on the cards for tomorrow..


Thanks again..



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The van is now 23 years old, so can't be expected to last much longer without major intervention.  I question the action of the storage depot, though, because they continued taking your money but seem to have failed to advise they regard the van as virtual scrap.  One would think they should have at least advised it was deteriorating, that they needed the space for other vehicles, and asked you to remove it.  Perhaps you should look at the storage contract, to see what obligations it places on the operator.

What to do?  One way might be to treat this as a major refurbishment project.  Whether that would be viable will depend on the state of the coachbuilt bodywork, for which a thorough examination and damp check would be an essential start.  If it turns out to be in generally good condition apart from the rust on the cab, it may be worth taking on.  Next is the true condition of the cab and mechanicals.  If the rust is just surface rust, the panels have not perforated, and the underside is sound, then a good clean, some preparation and a professional respray should see things coming together.  Mechanically, at the very least it will need new tyres and battery plus habitation battery.  I would expect much damage to have resulted from its long idle period, with brakes, clutch, and possibly gearbox, being damaged by rust and water penetration.  The extent of the damage would need some stripping to assess, which will be costly if carried out by a garage.  If possible to get the van into a weathertight shed, where further deterioration can be halted and so that it can, more or less, be stripped and re-built as necessary, it may be a rewarding, though time-consuming pass-time.  If none of the appropriate DIY skills are available, and you would have to pay others to undertake all the work, I suspect it would end up cheaper to buy a different van and start again.

If some of the work could be undertaken yourselves, it may be viable.  A good starting point would be to look at the present market value of similar vans, to gain some idea of what it might be worth if refurbished, and a very hard, long, exhaustive, look at the van as it is, dropping the "she" bit, and seeing it only as a piece of mechanical equipment in need of repairs, in order to assess its true present condition without sentiment.  If you can't quite manage that, then I would suggest getting someone else to do it for you.  Starting, and then finding the extent of the work overwhelming, is best avoided in the interests of calm, restful, nights!  :-)

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:-D You have sussed me out Brian...yes I do have a sentimental attachment to her(it).


When I first saw her on the net, 6 years ago, I fell in love, and we flew to Bristol to collect her. And travelled home via Wales and the Lakes, which I still remember as a fantastic holiday, so all of that adds up to sentimentality.


You are right, I have to be practical here, and I will be, although you dont see many D reg Hobbies around, in order to compare worth. However, in my head I feel the value would be around £8,000 to £10,000 if in good repair.


You are also right about the Storage folk, they will feel my wrath tomorrow ! I trusted them and they let me down, but they never failed to inform me of increase in prices..


Hubby is no DIYer Im afraid, so thats out, but I will make sure that I contact someone who can at least get her out of there and scrutinise her for the possibility of bodywork repair.


The internals are all still good, so she still looks as good inside as some newer models, and thats what I am basing things on.


Engine wise, well the battery is flat of course, so we cant tell, but knowing that Ducato engine, it will start.


Judgemental.. Im not writing her off yet.. I cant, my conscience wont allow me too.


But Im going to try and remain sensible over it.


Thanks again..



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Guest JudgeMental
I feel confident that it will be OK, providing you find someone honest to do the mechanical side and bodywork (probably different people) to get it through an MOT etc...
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Guest Tracker

I doubt you will find a unrusted Ducato or Talbot Express chassis cab of that vintage as this model was beset with rusting problems just about all over it's body and chassis for it's entire production run and whatever you buy it is a hell of a gamble that you will not find more trouble than you want to deal with when you take it apart?


Assuming it's a coachbuilt and not an A class the job of cutting out the cab and fixing the body on is not so hard if you have a suitable crane and plenty of guys to help with alignment - plus access to sheet aluminium and aome panel beating skills - but it is no job for a non diyer or indeed for the faint hearted?


If you can get the van looking at least half presentable and started and running it might be worth taking to a pre booked MOT to assess the extent of the tin worm problems - don't forget insurance?


Many years ago I helped a friend install a touring caravan onto the chassis of an ex 'Mother's Pride' bread van - having first removed the box body and it was hard graft with block and tackle, jacks, baulks of timber and overhead gantries in an engineering works.


It went on eventually but it never quite looked righ - but then for what he paid for it all it meant cheap holidays for a few years!


The other issue is that all that pulling and pushing and twisting might well cause panel damage - or even panel separation as the joints are 23 years old and probably not as strong as they once were - to the habitation part and/or water leaks that will be nigh on impossible to cure?


The point I am making is that although it seems simple enough in theory it is a long and complicated job and I suspect that current 'elfan safety' rules won't make it any easier or cheaper?



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Thanks Tracker, you are right of course, I was being niave when I thought about doing this, and didnt realise that I would have to find a van of similar age etc., as a local garage told me a few years ago, to buy a transit and change the cab over.


I dont think I can go down the scrap route, so I have to get her to a coachbuilder and ask if they can clean her up and make her roadworthy again, at a reasonable cost. If they cant, well then I have no choice but to scrap her.


I see you are from Pembrokeshire, our last trip out was to Sandy Haven, when I was having a nostalgic trip around my old haunts, as I was born in that area.



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Hi Christena

As the van is a "classic" agewise, this site may be able to offer some advise:-



Also may be worth posting a thread on the Self Build Motorcaravan Club website



or an e-mail to Martin Watts - (Classic Motorcaravanning Slow Lane in MMM) via Rachel Stothert at MMM - rachels@warnersgroup.co.uk

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My 1988 Autosleeper's cab was in a similar condition to yours(from your description) and it was bought back from the dead. Make sure that the chassis is in good condition first(important). Replacement body panels are still available :http://www.autopanels-castleford.co.uk/webpages/Talbot/Talbot%20Express.htm

The Talbot and Fiat are virtually the same vehicle (made at Sevel).

Body panels are also available on E-Bay, as are a lot of spare parts.

But you do need a reliable car body rebuilder/paint sprayer to do the work for you, and one who isn't going to 'rip you off'. Good luck Ray.

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Christena - 2010-08-01 7:15 PM

I see you are from Pembrokeshire, our last trip out was to Sandy Haven, when I was having a nostalgic trip around my old haunts, as I was born in that area.


We too like Sandy Haven but parking and access can be a bit of an issue at times so we don't often go there! From our side of the Cleddau Barrafudle is our favourite beach partly as it wa somewhere we went on our first date having met up at Carew Castle! Memories eh - although for us it was only 5 years ago!


Good luck with the resurection and if the interior and coachbuilt body are still in good usable condition a few thousand on chassis and cab repairs and respray will probably still be cheaper than buying another van - and at least you will know that what you have then is solid whereas buying another van of that era is fraught with potential problems!

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Thank you rayjsj.. and thanks to Tracker and all of you for the support...


You all have been SOOO supportive.


Right... news for today ...


I rang around this morning in search of a decent coachbuilder, the first was quickly eliminated, when I heard the lad I spoke to on the phone, shout to his boss asking if they could pick up the Hobby.. and his answer was 'Well it will Bl**dy well cost her!' to which I replied, yes I did hear his comment, thank you and goodbye..


The second was a recovery company, who incidently do body repairs, who were most helpful, so they have collected the Hobby from storage, ( thats a very polite description of it) and are going to check it all out. SO I AM HAPPY... its out of there !


Yes rayisj I had a think about it and thought if chassis and inner wings are ok, the rest could be salvaged.


Also a lovely member of this forum rang me last night, and was most supportive and encouraging, and talked to me about the chassis etc., So my deepest thanks to him.


Brian, you told me to stop giving her a persona, which I said was hard to do, can I explain another reason I feel so strongly about it...


When we bought it, it was from the widow of the previous owner, who had obviously great pride in his motorhome, so much so, he even interpretted all the German manuals into English in case they should be needed. Thats the sort of thing my own father would have done, and as such I do feel an obligation to him to do the best for this Hobby..


Tracker... I was born in Haverfordwest almost 60 years ago, and lived in Milford till I was around 7 years of age, so I still have cousins living there, and many happy childhood, and holiday memories of the place...


I will keep you all updated in what happens next... and that link is very useful rayjsj..thank you !



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Hi Christena

If the photo shows the current state of the Hobby, itwould appear to be in a decent state of repair.

If spares are needed by whoever you think about getting to do the work, this company has frequently been recommended on this forum


"Welcome to Delfin Designs ( www.delfindesigns.co.uk )


We specialize in Fiat Ducato,Talbot Express & Citroen C25 based vehicles built from 1983 until 1994.


Our new online store allows you to browse and order parts and accessories from our extensive range. Either browse the sections as listed on the left, or search for the item you require at the top of the page.


If you cannot find what you are looking for, or have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch, stock is changing daily."


Good luck

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Christena -


Here's another forum that could be sueful for you.


We used to have a motorhome based on the Peugeot J5 chassis cab (that's exactly the same as the Citroen C10 and the Talbot Express, as they were all part of the same company and made on the same Sevel..in Italy I think...production line, and then simply badged differently).


I found the people on this "Preloved" forum very helfpul indeed:








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Tracker. You've just blown Britain's best kept secret. Barafundle is far and away the best beach I've ever visited. I haven't been there for 25 years but as its accesssed via the National Trust car park I assume its unchanged.


As for the Hobby, there seems no point in chucking good money after bad and if it was me I would cut my losses. Whatever superficial is done to it, rust is the problem with these vehicles. Any full professional refurb would cost far in excess of what the vehicle is worth.


As for the storage people, while they have not been exactly helful , the original poster must share the major part of the blame for not visiting the vehicle more frequently. I see no point in giving the storage company grief over this as this will probably only lead to aggravation and they might insist the vehicle is moved immediately and then you will be the loser if no immediate alternative is available.


Forget it and move on is my view.

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In reply to Mike..


I do take my share of the blame re the vehicle being left. Most certainly, but I do think they could have contacted me, other than the numerous times to put prices up, and said that the vehicle was in disrepair. However to move it to a dumping ground and trust me, thats what they did, without my authorisation is totally out of order.


The vehicle is now out of there, I owe them nothing, as all costs were paid on time via standing order, the last payment they will get went through yesterday. I have been very fair with them, and have not given them grief in the manner I could have by spreading their name far and wide, but this is far from over.


The coachbuilders who have her, are going to check the chassis and inner wings to see if repairs involving new panels are viable or not, fingers crossed they will be.


Keep in mind, I viewed a 10 year old Hymer, which was £19,999 and the living quarters were no better than the Hobby. So to me it makes no sense to spend that kind of money if a few thousand will put the one I have right. Value has nothing to do with it.


By the way flicka the pic is not her now.. its three years ago.


If I get her up to scratch again, the next break will be to Sandy Haven again.. I will need it, to de-stress.....lol



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In your original post you said that without power steering that your motorhome was difficult to drive and you therefore put it in storage.


I hope that any health problems that you had are now resolved, but will you be able to enjoy driving a vehicle without power steering ?


Would a more modern vehicle give you more of the pleasures that you seek - sentament has its place, but do be carefull how you proceed.


I wish you well in your endeavors and many happy miles.



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Im afraid we cant turn the clock back, Im getting 'mature' as is hubby...hahaha and to help him cope with the driving, I want to be able to drive it too, but without power steering and with arthritis, its not easy..


However one member here soursed me some parts to fit power steering, and the garage who have it now, will look into the possibility of fitting it.


A newer model would be great, no doubt, but I also realise that if I get this one to its former glory, I can get a reasonable price as a trade in for it, at the moments its worth nothing.


So, either way, I will feel I have fulfilled my duties, after all, I should not have let this happen.


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