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Went to the NEC today -


AlanS

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We went to the Motorhome and Caravan show at the NEC today. We left reasonably early and got there in 2 hours with a slight hold up just getting into the NEC. It was extremely busy trying to get parked and this was at 10.15 hours but we did get parked fairly close to the entrance in one of the North Car parks.

 

The motorhome part was large compared to the caravan section and we found the accessories were all over the place, down the sides of the aisles and at each end of the 'U' shaped exhibition halls. Although people were buying plenty of bits and pieces, the prices didn't look any better than you would pay at some caravan dealers or on-line.

 

We had a look at some of the great TAG axle motorhomes available such as Carthago, Burstner, Hobby, Frankia etc. all costing a lot more than what was in our piggy bank - the Cathargo we liked was just a tad short of £200k - we can dream.

 

On the whole the exhibition was very well attended although comfortable to walk around (hard on the feet though) and we spoke to many fellow motorhomers whilst trying out the 'vans and shared our experiences and problems - they are such a friendly lot. There were some good deals to be had and the dealers seemed to be quite busy taking orders. You could see what section of our society has a bit of money to spend though - it is the retired brigade (yes, just like us) as I would think that the major part of the people at the exhibition were of the older vintage and most of the people we spoke to were trading up and buying a new motorhome at the exhibition.

 

Well, we spent £6 on a couple of carpet runners - 60" x 18" and fully bound edges - the same colours as you get in the motorhomes and these should help keep the carpets clean. Oh, and a nice salesman on the AutoTrail stand relieved us of a deposit for a new AutoTrail Savannah - we got a good deal and got a very good PX on our 18 month old AutoTrail Navajo. When the final money was on the table we then negotiated on extras and got about another £1k of extras within the price we agreed including the Thatcham 2-1 upgrade alarm. We should take delivery of it in early March next year but have agreed we can have full use of our present MH until then - I said we wouldn't do more than 1k miles in it during that time though (lucky it is winter coming up).

 

So there you go - the piggy bank is broken now and our son's and grandchildren's inheritance is slowly diminishing !

 

Alan

 

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Hi Alan,

Congrats on your purchase. I am interested in your comments as I have placed an order here in Sydney Australia for an Auto-Trail Tracker FB. I decided to wait for the new model to take advantage of the Fiat upgrade. The Auto-Trail range has been available her for just of 12 months so I have been watching all the UK blog sites to get an idea of the general feeling for the brand.I was in the UK in June so I filled my suitcase with all the MMM mags I could find with relevant info. Thus I am encouraged by your purchase especially as you have stayed loyal to the brand. Ours hopefully will arrive December and then we will be off just after Christmas to the coastal area of South Australia, approx. 1500kms (950Mls) each way so that should help us find it's strengths & hopefully not too many weaknesses.

Enjoy your purchase and do not worry about the kids inheritance enjoy the fruits of your labour as we are planning to do.

Gary

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Alan sounds like you got a good deal and hope all works out with the new toy.

Geeco also hope your van does the things you want it to and have many years of fun with it, have you looked at or joined the Auto Trail group on Facebook ?. Have a look as its free.

We have a AT Tracker that we have done about 20000 miles in the two years we have had it doing about 20 weeks a year in Europe. Have fun. B-)

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Alan,

We bought a Savannah, this time of year exactly 2 years ago. We spend long times away in ours usually at least a month at a time, we find the layout suits our needs exactly, even with 2 large labradors there is still enough space on a 'Wet day in' . (they are NOT allowed on the furniture, and we have taken out the carpets,and replaced them with washable runners.) A few minor quality 'niggles' (as you do!) but overall pleased with the purchase. We looked at some very expensive Foreign vans, but none of their 'layouts' suited us, quality was fine. But nothing as good as a Savannah layout. (we don't like having to 'climb' up into a bed ! or having a huge fixed table in the middle of the lounge.)

If you have any questions or queries, don't be afraid to ask. I will always answer a 'PM'.

Ray

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Thanks for the report.

We are going to the show on sat although we are staying at a site close by fri sat night so we can have a relaxing day without the drive home on my mind. We are looking with a very open mind at campers, motorhomes and caravans so no idea what we will end up coming home with. :-D

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Yes good report and it is nice to see the anti anything British crowd are either keeping their heads down or left The view that German is best is certainly a pretty old fashioned one these days with the build innovations the Brits are bringing in they are leaving them behind. See yesterday the new Merc C230 is falling to bits already with world wide recalls.
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But yes its horses for courses isn't it, that's why there are so many different layouts and sizes of vans out there.

 

I'm afraid we prefer a different layout for our type of motor homing and nor do we want a van as big as the Savannah, but we do like our bikes to be secure and out of the wet. So its horses for courses.

 

So yes our van is German and a Turkish Ford and it suits us, and I'm not aware of a British van layout which is similar, There aren't that many Vans out there with British underpinnings!

 

So yes had I been spending more money than that I spent on polish and a few other bits, I'm afraid it would have gone on on a German Van, I had long looks and talks with salesmen for 4 vans all German, and decided our 4 year old van will do us for another couple of years (unless we find a very good deal this time next year) before we splash the cash and replace it. At that time it all depends what's in the market place but at the moment it would be another German and that's my choice!

 

Strange isn't it but all the vans I've had have some German input, A Holdsworth type 2 VW, an Autosleeper Trident on a Type 4, a La Strada Regent L on a Merc, A Geist on a Merc and now the Hobby. Apart form the infamous Sprintshift, all the base vehicles have been very good. Water ingress into the engine bay and gearbox issues put me off Fiats 4 years ago. But it looks as if you want a motorhome, at the moment its got to be a Fiat,

 

cheers alan

 

PS There may even be some subconscious thought in all this, my adopted City is red amber and black and my favourite team has just been relegated. So if I wore a team shirt or merchandising on holiday in Europe then everybody took us for German. I don't know which is worse being taken as German or as a Yorkshireman! Actually I've been doing missionary work here for the last 45 years but my trips back over the border have got less and less as my ties to the old county have been cut.

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Hi Guys and thanks for your comments.

 

We certainly wouldn't have changed the motorhome if there wasn't a very good deal on the table. We had the AT Navajo from new and by the time we pick up the new one we would have had it 21 months and during that time we have had so far 20 weeks holiday in it as well as the odd day trip out with it last winter down to the coast. In that time we have 'lost' under £3k on it on the price we originally paid so we think that wasn't bad but of course you don't get a big discount on the new one as well. We chipped away with some extras in with the price so we felt we did all right and that is what it is all about - you fix a price in your mind that you think is reasonable and which suits you. We also think we did well because there is a price rise imminent after the show as AutoTrail are holding their prices to the 2014 level until 20 October then they will go up.

 

Our present AT Navajo is a lovely motorhome and I personally love the layout but we changed it because we decided we wanted to go back to a separate bedroom, contrary to our original thoughts when we first moved over to motorhomes and also we can after all, accommodate a longer MH at home. We also wanted a garage under the rear bedroom as it is much easier to get the loungers out (amongst other things) for the wife - she will now be able to do it on her own instead of waiting for me to get her chair out.

 

Geeco

Great to hear that good old GB are exporting things to Australia. Congratulations on your choice, The Tracker FB is a good motorhome and not too dissimilar to the Frontier range except for a few built in extras that the Frontier has. Not being 'nosey' but what is the prices like in Australia - the 2015 Tracker FB has a current price of £51,648 on the road so how does that compare ?

 

Ray

We echo your comments about the beds and trying to get onto them but would give it a good try if I had the money to buy that Cathargo ! We had a yellow Labrador for 13 years during our time with the caravans and she was never allowed on the seats - she had her own rug on the floor but those years have passed and the thought of a wet dog in a motorhome with us now, I don't know, but we did love her to bits.

 

If you are going to the show it is far to big to go to with a view to looking at everything unless you are there for a few days. I think you have to be focussed and stick to a few areas that you want to see rather than aimlessly walking around. We only looked at the Coachbuilt motorhomes and even then not all of them plus we looked briefly at the accessories. We didn't purposely avoid the PVC's just didn't have the time although we did find some time to have a look at our last caravan on the Coachman stand - just to reminisce you know !

 

Alan

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I've never knocked the quality of Foreign vans, they seem quite good, but they never seem to adapt their vans to 'British tastes' they even get away with not putting the Habitation door on the correct side (for the UK), a thing that our Manufacturers would never 'get away with' if trying to sell into their market. And they do not 'Do' lounging inside ? Bolt upright 'travel seats' in a van obviously designed for 2 people only. And the 'Space consuming' fixed table.....words fail me, a monstrosity, lots of other minor details of course, but no, I am not convinced, or won over. They look nice, and I have no doubt they are well built, but I won't be buying one any time soon. Unless someone like Adria (who at least tries to tailor vans to our market) comes up with a 'Savannah' look alike, then No sale. Ray

 

 

Even the Carthago at over £100,000 has only gas rings, I think it might have spark ignition.. whoopee I had that in my old Talisman years ago. And if you do have an oven it is perched dangerously high (health n safety ?) on top of the Fridge. all that and a bed, that if you fell out of, you could possibly break a leg !

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I went today, I looked at many (far to many) motorhomes. I also looked underneath and was appalled at the lack of waterproofing on maybe, 50% of those I looked at.

 

I have identified a M/H we both like, well made and a nice layout. It is a foreign one, French in fact. Pilote to be exact, at least I think it's made in France.

 

As to whether I spend all that money is another matter, I probably wont, but it was nice looking.

 

H

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Went to the NEC on the first day so that we could be sure of getting an early build on our order in time for the next season. Looked at all the PVCs and came away with an Autosleeper Warick XL. Looked at many foreigners but none did a layout that ticked all our boxes. Build quality was not over impressive on many but I must admit they seemed to be offered at very competitive prices. Having said that some of this can be accounted for by the lack of equipment and accessories found on many UK vans. Spec them up to match the UK vans and the difference was not as great. Only other one that tempted us was a Vantage with a good size garage in a solid rear end and the layout we needed inside. However whilst the headline price looked good everything was an extra including the desirable rear end. It was very very well made but with a poor PX on offer the change over cost would have been £40000 compared with £20000 on the Autosleeper which coupled with a long delivery date ruled it out.

 

We then set of to buy a few odds and ends we needed. Wanted one of the little Cadac jobs so went to Towsure stand where whilst looking at the someone helpfully told us a rival was selling them much cheaper so off we toddled right round to the other extreme of the U shape layout only to find theyed just sold the last one. We don't give up that easily. Cadac were not selling at the show but did have a pile of them on their stand. One sob story later one had been trotted round to the dealers in questions stand and we had one at a bargain price.

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hallii - 2014-10-17 5:55 PM

 

I went today, I looked at many (far to many) motorhomes. I also looked underneath and was appalled at the lack of waterproofing on maybe, 50% of those I looked at.

 

I have identified a M/H we both like, well made and a nice layout. It is a foreign one, French in fact. Pilote to be exact, at least I think it's made in France.

 

As to whether I spend all that money is another matter, I probably wont, but it was nice looking.

 

H

 

It's not very often you see any prospective buyer looking underneath a motorhome but it's one of the most important areas to check first. More often than not you are put off because of the lack of insulation and poor workmanship, plus untreated timber.

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Alan let us add our thanks to you for a good show report and starting what another respondent termed a thread which showed that this forum can have civility, thank goodness. Hope you enjoy your new van when you take delivery in March. We too have been known to change vans after eighteen months and never seem to keep one more than three years but never really regretted it even though if we added up howvmuch we have spent over the years we may well!! Regarding which are best British or continental European then think both have upsides and downsides but at moment think French vans are ones which lead in terms of innovations, well we would say that wouldn't we as enjoying our new Rapido in southern France, where incidentally weather is really amazing for time of year with today temps of 26degreesC and unbroken sunshine. But back to home and reality in just over a weeks time.
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Hi Alan,

In answer to your question on the comparative prices of Motorhomes in Uk vs Au the waters are a little muddy.The list price of a AT Tracker FB is A$135,000. That equates to around UK60,750 at the current exchange rate. You need to consider freight, compliance with Aust design rules covering gas appliances, 240v electrical, import duty along with the importers profit together with the dealers margin. Naturally we will pay more. The "standard" AT Tracker FB sold here has the sports line exterior colours, media pack, standard aircon , solar panel, 150hp motor with auto shift tranny & rear ladder. I have added a 5th seatbelt & Famma bike rack. The price is competitive with Swift & Knaus and the several locally made models. The locals appear to be similar to your market in that they cater for all sectors of the market. We chose the Tracker based on our needs of normally 2 adults with our 3 grand kids to be accommodated from time to time. Hope that covers your question.

 

If you are interested in the Australian motorhome scene there is a free bimonthly download called imotorhome. I am not associated in any way but I do find it interesting. www.imotorhome.com.au

 

Gary C

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hallii - 2014-10-17 6:55 PM

 

I went today, I looked at many (far to many) motorhomes. I also looked underneath and was appalled at the lack of waterproofing on maybe, 50% of those I looked at.

 

I have identified a M/H we both like, well made and a nice layout. It is a foreign one, French in fact. Pilote to be exact, at least I think it's made in France.

 

As to whether I spend all that money is another matter, I probably wont, but it was nice looking.

 

H

 

We were at the Le Bourget trade show as guests of Le Voyageur, (part of the Pilote group) and also looked at the Pilote range. If you are seriously interested in a Pilote, have a look at 2011 and earlier Voyageurs, as they were really well made, and are now coming into the price range of new Pilotes. The new Voyageurs are now on the Pilote production line, and not (imho) as well built as the older models.

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Hi All, haven't been on the forum for quite a while now. We went to the show and had a good look around and got a very good deal that we're pleased with. One thing that I found great was chatting to other prospective buyers while we sat in the vans, topics ranged from layouts to campsites to tips and hints, although one couple came into the van while we were talking to the salesman about the van and proceeded to knock everything about it from the ceiling height to the privacy tinting on the windows, by the end of their 5 minute whinge even I was fed up with them so what the salesman thought god only knows :-S

We were so wrapped in looking at vans and getting quotes and various deals I forgot that we'd originally gone to the show for a trailer wheel clamp, must be an age thing.

This was our second visit to the show and like the original poster I was surprised by the number of motorhomes compared to caravans although that may have been because that's where our interest lies.

Thanks to the original poster for this thread.

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Oops we seem to have bought a new caravan. Cracking deal from Campbells who we bought ours from a dealer special edition lunar cosmos 462 based on the quasar bigger than ours but same weight huge end washroom separate shower etc. Delivery Jan. Was heaving at show but good day out.

Looked at motor homes but nothing tempted us back.

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Hi Geeco (Garry)

 

Thanks for the link to the Australian Motorhome Scene - I will give it a try.

I had a look at the UK price list and to get your motorhome in the similar spec to yours would add another £4k to the base price, so in the end not too dissimilar to yours really. Drop in on the forum and let us know how you get on with the delivery in December. Then it is Christmas in the sun for you with the new motorhome - are we envious, you bet !!

 

Hi ips

 

Our friends bought the 'same' caravan from Robinsons earlier this year and we were very impressed with it - they upgraded it from the previous model, so a good choice and thanks for the report update.

 

Thanks everyone for the NEC updates, keep them rolling.

 

Alan

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Cheers allan.

We were open minded looked at. Campers and motor homes but could not find anything that tempted us back looked in some pretty big a class but they were like tardis in reverse no room at all. You get so much more per buck with a caravan.

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We had a couple of days at the Show; Friday was relatively peaceful and access to the MHs was easy, Saturday more of a bun fight with children carrying balloons to trip over. We stayed on the CC Temprorary campsite which worked well for us (on the dry and clean part of the car park) and the Shuttle bus was OK too. The food hall was a bit school-dinnerish with carrots and cauliflower cooked to death, tinned peas and a sign saying "No, your mother doesn't work here so clear up your own table afterwards!") and the entertainment was noisy. Fortunately we weren't too close, tucked up near the site generators watching TV in our MH instead; the generators were remarkably well silenced and far quieter than the bands.

 

Our aim was to look at the new bigger MHs, to understand what improvements in layout and design have appeared. There have been some clever ideas but it was surprising how ill-finished some were. For example there was a very big Frankia which had a superbly fitted rear lounge, made possible because they had contrived to make the front drop-down bed work as two singles. The problem was that the design and finish of the steps up into the single beds was a bit ad hoc and there were big gaps into which a sleepy person could fall when getting our for a piddle in the small hours.

 

Same on the Hymer Duo design, which has the same idea, of liberating the back end for panoramic lounge purposes by using the front end more effectively as drop down single. Again the steps up to the beds were a bit hit and miss and looked distinctly rickety.

 

The Frankias had a clever double dividing door arrangement in which a large door, the whole sidewall of the toilet compartment, swung around to form a privacy barrier across the centre of the MH by effectively relocating the wall, with a more conventional sized door in the middle of it, which could be used for passage. A good solid feel to the arrangement - but would a central divide be useful all that often? Frankia had a MH fitted out with all sorts of electronic controls too. Maybe that's a looming aspect of the way forward over the next few years.

 

If you are looking at the higher end MHs the NEC Show gives you a chance to see more models from the range than would normally available in UK. Frankia had half a dozen biggish MHs, three or four of which were LHD and would be going back to Germany after the Show. I think we might make the effort and go to the Dusseldorf Salon next year.

 

We came away from the NEC having enjoyed ourselves but with a few accessories only.

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StuartO - 2014-10-19 10:06 AM The Frankias had a clever double dividing door arrangement in which a large door, the whole sidewall of the toilet compartment, swung around to form a privacy barrier across the centre of the MH by effectively relocating the wall, with a more conventional sized door in the middle of it, which could be used for passage. A good solid feel to the arrangement - but would a central divide be useful all that often?

The older Frankias also have what we call "the magic wall", and for us it's one of the best features, giving a full-size "ensuite" feel to the shower area so you can step out and dry yourself with plenty of room. As our daughter sleeps in the rear lounge area, it also gives her some privacy. The downside is that with the wall swung out of the way, there is very little room in the toilet.

Steve
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