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Advice, what would you buy?


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We currently have a caravan and will be selling that after French hol next month. We have hired motorhomes both in UK and abroad and feel it would give us more flexibility.

We are seriously considering a Chausson Flash 04, transverse fixed bed and it would be in our price bracket. We also very much like the Hymer van ( same sort of layout) but they seem expensive and a 3 yr old one is the same price as a new Flash. The main Hymer dealership has a poor reputation.

Mel's and others commentators have helped, likewise Highbridge in Somerset seem a reasonable dealer.

We live in Cornwall and there are not that many dealers down here.

Therefore if anyone has any other thoughts or comments we would be interested to hear. 8-)

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We looked very carefully at both options (Hymer vs Flash 04) and about 2 months back we made a decision.


As you can see by my avatar picture we went for a second hand Hymer 522 Van.


The Chauson Flash was a very real option, but when you see the build quality of the Hymer (and I got a lot of extras on the second hand Hymer)

it swung things in favour of the Hymer.


Pity you are so far away, you could have come for a look see.



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After the layout and interior colours


Not the usual way of looking at vans but I bought my hymer because of the way it was built.


All the cabling was in ducts. The pump and boiler were easily accessable. The sinks had waste traps and drain down valves. The fresh water and waste tanks could be got at to clean.


Yes Hymers are expensive but you get what you pay for.


There are other good makes out there as well ( disclaimer )



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Go for the Chausson.


Build quality is now on a par with germanic products, Flash is the 'entry-level' range but it will still have the (all-important) under-pinnings and quality fixtures and fittings found in the top of the range Allegro.


Highbridge Motorhomes are an excellent bunch, talk to Lewis Livesey and he will see you right. As a caravan dealer, they will take your 'van as PX if you want them to.


After-sales, not that you will encounter many problems, is first-class. If you're coming up from Cornwall, spend the first night in Burnham on Sea so you can call back 'round to Highbridge and ask them about all the things you forgot at the handover!!


Welcome to the wacky world of motorhoming, but look out for badge-snobs, they infest our world just like any branch of motoring.


Good luck...

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Thank you for advice so far.

Is the build quality of the Flash so far apart from the Hymer to warrant the price difference.

That is, for our money a 2nd hand Hymer 2007 is same as new Flash.

We have seen a couple of Hymer at that year, but both were quite high mileage and looked rather tatty and unloved.

I keep trawlin the internet but so far no real joy.

However keep suggestions coming. :-D

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I havent had a problem with the build quality of my flash and extras can be fitted yourself to bring spec up if your at all handy. I think you can find fault with anything if you really want too particularily if you want to justify the extra expence you incurred buying your hymer etc... No offence intended to anyone
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One thing that help make us decide on a Hymer was visiting Düsseldorf on the last day of the show, having looked around a lot of vans the thing that was noticeable was the Hymer's & Frankia's had very little damage & bits missing after 10's of thousands of people had been through them compared to most other makes. We couldn't afford a Frankia so it had to be a Hymer & as you pointed out they hold their value well.


We would certainly by another Hymer & we are not badge snobs I drive a Kia & wife has a Hyundai.



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Hi Alex

We were in the same market late 2008.

To be honest we found the Hymer to be rather dark inside.

The Chausson Flash was due to appear at the 08 NEC Show, but did not materialise.


"A N other" magazine did a "Big Group Test" on 3 variants in the Jan 2009

Chausson Flash 04 - Ford Transit

Autocruise Sportstar - Peugeot Boxer


Sunlight T57 - Ford Transit -

The Sunlight is a budget range built by Dethleffs (for Lowdham, Nottingham & Huddersfield amongst others)


Each has a feature which is either attractive or not, for different specific reasons.

Flash rear bed can be highered & lowered.

Sportstar rear bed can slide back giving more daytime floor space.

Sunlight no rear bed manuvouring, giving large fixed garage.


I have scanned copy of the test, if of interest please PM me.


Also have a look at:-

Autotrail's Excel 640G (a foot longer) Autotrail's budget range. http://www.excelmotorhomes.co.uk/640-g.htm


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Thank you again one and all.

I have the group test already and had looked at the Sunlight.

I emailed Lowdhams and asked them if they would be displaying that model at the NEC in October so I could make more of a choice.

However, they stated that there was a possibility that that model would be changed and have a fiat chassis.

I rather like the Ford bit, having read so much about Fiat problems, although the seating position is not disagreeable.

Like others I am not a badge snob and have a Kia 4x4 so am interested in opinions, since I would never have considered Chausson or lack of an oven in a van had it not been for this forum.

It was certainly a lot easier buying a caravan! *-)

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Hi Alex, this is really a question that you cannot get a proper answer to. Everyone thinks theirs is the right van, that is why they bought it after all. These days however I would certainly question German is best. This may have been the case ten years ago but others have caught up and in design now past them. You have to go with the layout that suits you best and these days I would buy from the UK. I have to also question Lenny's 25% saving, no offence meant Lenny, and am curious where these figures come from. When you add in UK tax and costs /problems of collecting the van and sorting warrenty issues you cannot simply look at the advertised price. You are also likely to get a big discount from the UK dealer at the moment. Good luck with your search, it might be an idea to check on the dealer when you find one, someone on here might have had previous dealings with them. a good dealer is worth a bit to many simply do not care once you have purchased.
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HI, i agree with Henry ( rupert123 ) we looked at many motorhomes at a lot of shows before we decided, a few tears back i would have said hymer were up there but all the hymers we saw at the shows had some form of damage, shower doors broken cupboard doors broken etc, this turned us against the brand. we ended up with a rapido ( at least they stood up to the abuse at shows ) being french we felt maybe they were designed for the way the french drive and abuse their vehicles (!) so there is no easy choice just keep looking and comparing layout and build quality.good luck and im sure you will make the right choice for you and wonder why you didnt do it years before
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rupert123 - 2010-08-10 3:21 PM


I have to also question Lenny's 25% saving, no offence meant Lenny, and am curious where these figures come from. When you add in UK tax and costs /problems of collecting the van and sorting warrenty issues you cannot simply look at the advertised price.


That's easy was quoted over 60K in the UK we added over 3K of extras & paid 40K in Belgium plus 7K UK VAT total £47k & it's RHD full UK spec.

Ordered with 3/4 phone calls & a couple of emails & send small deposit paid on collection with bankers draft. Cost of collecting £70 Ferry £60 Hotel (could have done it in a day if I wanted to), fuel £70 my mate came with me to pick up his van so doing it on your own would need to add a single ferry crossing still talking less that £200 it would cost me £70 in fuel to pick up from a UK dealer.


What UK tax/cost problems? Supplied VAT free filled out 2 simple forms that DVLA send you in their import pack took them to local DVLA office (you can post them) paid for registration & road tax with debit card. A few days later tax arrives in post & a couple of weeks later invoice for VAT which has to be paid in 30 days.


Warranty not a problem either call in when on holiday or have a nice long weekend in Brugge, and it works out cheaper, e.g. UK cost for annual damp check £190 in Belgium 60€. Minor items I send photo dealer posts replacement.



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If you are prepared to drive, or want, a LHD van, maybe because you will use it extensively abroad, you can make substantial savings by buying abroad, though not quite as much as simple price comparisons may initially suggest.  Foreign sourced vans are not generally popular with UK dealers if anything goes wrong, though the base vehicle will not present problems in this respect.  UK sourced LHD vans, new, are about the same price as RHD, to some extent due to the alterations that should be made to headlamps, speedometer, rear lights and electrics before they are supplied in this country.

Since you are based in Cornwall, mainland European dealers will not be handy, unless you select locations to be handy to visit as you are travelling around.  We imported our first van ourselves from France (Calais), but by far the easiest and most secure way to get a van back to UK, is to get someone else to do it for you.  For example, ours came from Germany and was sourced, and brought back, by Bundesvan.  We still saved several thousand pounds even after his costs had been met.  The van was delivered to our door registered and taxed, with all import formalities completed.

If what you buy is of good quality initially, the risk of major defect is reduced, but it will always exist wherever you buy.  If the van was sourced abroad, and develops a major defect, it will have to go back whence it came, which will make a hole in your saving.  It is a risk, so you have to be prepared for its consequences.

As an example, Burstner vans are well reputed, there is an excellent small family dealer in Calais, and if the poop really hits the fan, Burstner are based in Kehl, which is virtually a suburb of Strasbourg, where there is an extremely well reputed factory customer services department where defects dealers cannot cope with, or emergencies, can be fixed.

Chausson, as you doubtless know, are part of the Trigano group.  The vans have improved over the years.  They were never bad, and were always good value, but had a reputation a few years back for not keeping their looks so well as they aged.  I think this has now largely been left behind.  My main reservation would be Trigano themselves, who have not gained the most glowing reputation for speedy customer service when things go wrong.  I am not aware that they have a factory customer service facility similar to Burstner (it seems to be a bit of a German speciality), so you are more or less totally dependent on your dealer's ability to extract service from Trigano.

The thing with motorhomes, as with caravans, is that the converter really only makes the bodyshell.  Most buy in almost everything else - furniture, fridges, cookers, heaters, pumps, lights, windows, blinds, mains charger units, etc, from the likes of Dometic, Truma, etc.  Those units are guaranteed by their makers for at least 12 months, so if the kit goes wrong, it can be fixed by arrangement through their service networks.  Not at the drop of a hat, and not without a bit of inconvenience, or even expense, from time to time, but at least fixed.

Whether now is a good time to buy an imported van is a bit of an open question.  Many now look very expensive, largely due to the fall in the value of Sterling relative the the Euro.  However, this will greatly depend on when stock was bought, or the currency risk arrangement the importer has in place.  As an example, ours was priced at about £35,000 in UK in 2007, its 2010 equivalent is now £45,000!  This currency led price "spike", if Sterling continues to appreciate against the Euro, may make today's prices look a little silly in a year or two's time.  Who knows, it is just another risk.

Therefore, if you want, or are prepared, to to drive a LHD van, your budget should go further by buying abroad, as the recent rises in Sterling would enable you to buy discounted vans (they all do discounts.  :-)) at today's exchange rate, rather than vans discounted from the inflated UK price, bought in at yesterday's less favourable exchange rate.  Food for thought?

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Brian Kirby - 2010-08-10 6:15 PM


Burstner are based in Kehl, which is virtually a suburb of Strasbourg, where there is an extremely well reputed factory customer services department where defects dealers cannot cope with, or emergencies, can be fixed


My main reservation would be Trigano themselves, who have not gained the most glowing reputation for speedy customer service when things go wrong.  I am not aware that they have a factory customer service facility similar to Burstner (it seems to be a bit of a German


Autotrail have a similar facility at their Grimsby factory & they are part of the Trigano group.

Recent post on here have been favourable both in supply of spares & service.

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Well, we've had 4 new vans - a Swift, Rapido, a Rimor and a Chausson in the last 9 and a half years. The Swift Suntor 590RS cost £27,500 in September 2001 (11 September ... not a date I'll forget in a hurry!). The Rapido 709F was 'expensive' for a pure 2 berth van at £32,500 in 2003 but it was what we wanted and we loved it (plus is was soooooo cute! :D ). The Rimor Sailer 645TC cost us virtually the same as the Rapido due to the stonking deal we got as the dealer needed to clear the space for new models - it was just over £33,000 in 2007 but was a 2006 model on the Mk 6 Ford Transit chassis. The Chausson Flash 04 cost us just over £37,000 in April this year. We drove 250 miles to Highbridge to get it as they were willing to give us the best PX by a large margin so it was worth 'the risk' of having to sort any problems with it ourselves due to the distance.


Quality wise the Swift was of very questionable quality ... the 'bonus' swimming pool under the side bench seat wasn't an 'option' we had chosen! The Rapido was the most expensive and definitely considered to be a luxury van, but it was the one which we had the most problems with build wise - the cupboard doors were affected by humidity and blistered and the foot of the bed came loose from the side wall - this appears to have been a common problem on Rapidos from that time as we've seen it on several models. The Rimor - nothing, absolutely nothing went wrong other than the fridge which was a Dometic problem, the build quality was the best we've ever experienced. As for the Chausson, as we've only had it a short time we can't say how it will stand up to use but it doesn't appear to be any worse than the Rimor to date.


One thing that persuaded us to buy the Chausson rather than go for a similar layout by another manufacturer was the accessible storage in the 'caravan' part. The massive overcab storage 'glory hole' and the 2 drawers under the rear bed steps make it work for us - we considered that some of the others were very compromised in this respect, especially where the wardrobe was placed under the bed simply to give a little bit of extra worktop space which can easily be added by making a worktop extension, which I have done. We couldn't warrant paying the price for some of the other models over and above the Chausson (even though we could have afforded them if we wanted to) as they simply, for us anyway, did not give us what we wanted.


Our Rimor had a very similar layout to the Chausson, but it was 7.14 metres, our Chausson is 5.99 metres and to date we haven't missed the extra space or length at all, that's how well the Chausson suits us and the amount of storage etc it has.


My main piece of advice is to seriously consider how you will 'live' in any van you are interested in, forget the name of the manufacturer, if the van won't work for you it won't matter who made it.



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flicka - 2010-08-10 9:01 PM .............. Autotrail have a similar facility at their Grimsby factory & they are part of the Trigano group. Recent post on here have been favourable both in supply of spares & service.

Do they attack Chaussons up there though, John?  If so, it would be a great advantage.

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My last 3 vans have all been LHD. Last 2 imported from Belgium. Last one was a Hymer bought in 2005. The dealer replied to my email within minutes at 0700ish.


Hymer UK price £48,000 they would not reduce the price by a penny. Campirama, Belgium price for a higher spec was £35,000. By the time I came to pay the pound had declined and it cost £36,000. I got some discounts to get to that price which probably came to the same as the cost of the higher spec.


Saving 33%, £12,000, minus £109 tunnel, say £75 fuel, plus £450 saving on fags, tobacco & beer.


Had to have a leaking seal replaced minus £200.


Registration is a doddle.


My attitude was if I have any problems they would have to be very big for me to end up 'losing'.


Lots of people I tell about importing say they'll do it next time but when I see them some time later they have bought in the UK again. The reason most commonly given is 'the hassle'.


Reading some of the UK buying experiences I feel quite smug. (lol)

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The big change since 2005 is insurance.  Despite the introduction of changes intended to make it easier to insure personal imports, the opposite was achieved, and it is now almost impossible to get such insurance in UK.  In 2005 you could insure on the VIN, and your insurance commenced as soon as your vehicle was on UK soil.  No longer!

If you buy in Germany you get temporary export insurance, valid I think for one month, that is claimed to cover the whole of the EC.  However, the documents are, inevitably, in German - and I have not seen an accredited translation of the terms, and the cover is stated to be minimum German legal cover only, approximately equivalent to Road Traffic Acts only cover only over here, so no fire or theft cover.  Thus, apart from third party risks, you have no insurance, and will have none until the vehicle is fully registered in UK and can be insured under its UK registration number.

What is supposed to be available, is full comprehensive insurance, issued in UK, to cover the vehicle from the moment it is collected, for the full extent of its journey home, maintained while it is registered (for which, if I remember, there was supposed to be a three month time limit), whereon the new registration number will be substituted for the temporary export number.  The motor insurers database (MID) has been modified to accept foreign registration numbers, and I believe even VINs, to facilitate this, but the insurers are not offering the product.

Last time I investigated, some (two, I think!) UK insurers were claiming to provide this cover, but were attaching conditions regarding completion of registration that were not required by the legislation (completion within one week of taking out the insurance, for example) that were to all intents and purposes unattainable, other than by sheer good luck.  This persuaded me that they either had not read and digested the new legislation, or were merely seeking to exploit the permitted time delay between issuing the insurance and its confirmation on the MID.  One claimed he could issue comprehensive cover from the moment of collection if in Germany, with the third party element of any claim being covered by the German third party export insurance, and any other losses recoverable under the comprehensive policy.  This division of liabilities was subsequently stated by the Motor Insurer's Bureau not to be possible.  All this meant it was vitally important that any proposal was totally transparent and incontrovertibly clear, as to what was to be insured, its value, where it was, how it was to be brought back to UK, and that it would then be registered in UK following whatever modifications were required.  Then, if the underwriters rejected a claim on grounds that the insurance had been incorrectly issued, there would be a fair chance of claiming against the issuer's Professional Indemnity Insurance.  Unlikely to be quick paying out, but at least the payout should eventually arrive.  However, these insurances seemed to me so fraught with risk, unless the proposer understood exactly what s/he was doing, that I concluded the only sensible remedy was to pay someone to bring the van back to UK, fully insured, on trade plates.

It remains possible, so far as I know, to get the German third party insurance, and drive a van from Germany to UK on temporary plates and register it.  It may even be possible now to get comprehensive UK insurance on the German plates, pending UK registration, commencing when the van gets to UK, though this was not possible three years back.  It is just that bit of the journey from the dealer to the Channel port that I would not risk on third party insurance only.  However, some do.  Whether that is brave, or foolish, is a matter of opinion.  :-)

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