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Before I buy my first overcab model...


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I currently have found our low profile far too small now the wee one has arrived.


3 cramped weeks in Italy with a travel cot in the way of everything has impelled me to come home and purchase something bigger.


But which way do I go? Grow old gracefully and sail around in one of those many stately and serene A Classes that I see on the roads or plump for one of those leviathans of the road that I have never really admired but are less expensive?


Will I ever get used to driving something 7 metres long and over 3 metres high rather than my current tiddly 6 metres and 2.5 metres high?


In a nutshell, I've been offered a reasonable deal on a discounted new overcab but wonder whether I should buy an older (4 years old?) A Class for the same money (£40K)?


Any pointers from those of you who are both older and wiser?

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Thanks for that. I think you're right but I can't help looking up at my imminent purchase thinking, "Yikes"!


Inside of course, there is plenty of room to pass each other, cook and generally chill, so maybe I won't regret it.


Of course, most A-Class vans are just as long, if not longer, so I've just got to watch out for those restricted height signs, I suppose.


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Jackal - 2007-08-17 8:55 PM


Any pointers from those of you who are both older and wiser?


...I might own up to being older, but wiser? that's all a matter of opinion.


What van is suitable is so much a matter of personal taste, but as a past owner of three van conversions, and four overcabs, now on my first 'A' class, I must admit I would miss various attributes if I were to change back.


Everything is a compromise, of course, but for my own taste I would target a good 'A' class, with a half-dinette and a rear garage with either bunks or a transverse bed above. (which happens to be just what I have!).


Yes, there are some compromises to be made, but overall this 'van has been magnificent.


1. The on-road experience with the half-dinette and the big A' class windscreen is much better than previous 'vans. Particulalry for the rear passenger(s) who still get a very good view forward, and aren't isolated from the front passengers unlike a full dinette (my wife normally gets the back seat, as my son is quick to drop into the front, and she is much happier in this 'van than previous)


2. Come bed-time, the child goes to sleep at the opposite end of the van from the (still in use) lounge, and well out of the way of most noise. The pull-down bed in an A class means its a very quick job to turn the lounge into a bedroom later. Both beds are very comfortable as there is no making up using cushions etc. to achieve.


3. Whilst not as comforatable as a rear lounge, my son still uses the rear bed for lounging in, playing with his nintendo etc, and has really taken to it as 'his' space.


4. The garage underneath means that there is little problem with carrying all the stuff you need to when you've got children, and it doesn't clutter up the interior storage.


5. I have a 'van which has had more use than any of the others, is less than 7 meters long and 3 meters high, and works for breaks of up to 3 weeks for 3 relatively grown-up people. Something like a second-hand Rapido 944F or the Hymer equivalent might be a good thing to view.


Really only two problems I think. First, getting a good second-hand van of a particular type is really a matter of luck. Second thing is that with most A class vehicles, I would probably want to ensure a chassis over 3500kg for decent payload, and this may not fit with your licence.

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Thanks ever so for your reply.


To be honest, you've confirmed what I had expected.


I suppose it'll just be the trade off between a new overcab or a 4 year old A Class, in the end.


Are there any maintenance issues with buying an older model?

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Hi Jackal -


In my expereience, yes there are maintenance issues in buying an older model......but in a sense there will always be maintenance issues when you buy any large piece of mechanical/electrical/gas machinery containing lots of complex systems.


In our case we've recently got our 1st van - an old dog (1992 Euro mobil 4 berth over-cab, on a Peugeot J5 chassis-cab). I happen to enjoy mechanics/fettling so sorting out it's various foibles is actually fun - repairing the power steering, sorting out the soggy rear leaf springs, repairing the extendable step (which broke off two days ago), and sorting out the jumble of crappy wiring which a previous owner had added) etc etc etc.


In my experience though, from an engine/gearbox/running gear etc point of view, an older high mileage van on a commercial chassis should not be a problem though.

In panel-van format these things are designed to be sold to commercial companies, then do starship mileages, driven by 400 different non-owner drivers, with less than perfect adherance to maintenance schedules.

If the chassis cab has instead been used as a motorhome base from new, it will (most probably) have been driven FAR more considerately, by owners who've looked after it, and maintained it rigorously.


Also/ normally older vehicles are far simpler to maintain - no electronics, no ECU's etc.

Ours is diesel but has no turbo (non-turbo engines usually last a lot longer), no cat (so exhaust replacement is about 70% cheaper), you can easily get at everything in the engine bay, etc.


In the end, it's normally rust that kills vehicles in the UK.

But ours is an ex-German vehicle only imported to the UK in 2005, (and then brough over to Spain by the previous owner last year) so there's no rust underneath it at all, after 15 years and 90,000 miles. (Apparently they don't use road salt in Germany).


I guess that the other advantage of an older van is that it may well have been fitted with lots of extras over the years, and certainly any initial teething problems will have been sorted out.


Our van ain't gonna win any beauty contests, but it's functionally perfect, rust free, and it cost us only 6,000 euros here in Spain. Depreciation in the coming few years is gonna be buggerall I fancy(!), and it's left us with a BIG pot of money (compared to buying a much more expensive van) to spend on fuel etc so we can actually use the thing every week.


In the end it's horses for courses - but personally I'm not convinced that a 2 year old van costing £30K or more is going to be any more reliable than a ten year old van for £15K. Getting a full, comprehensive and complete service history with it from the previous caring owner(s)would be a clincher for me.





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Jackal - just one thought on A-class models, some manufacturers such as Dethleff and Knaus are bringing out smaller A-class vehicles with sensible heights of 2.7m and may be worth a look before you make a final decision.


One of the problems with higher vehicles (A-class or overcab) is, of course the effect of wind resistance on handling and economy. Neither is a serious problem in the main but will be noticeable after using a low profile.


Good luck with the search, David

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Mel B,


I have an 05 Hymer T575 on Fiat 2.8 JTD which I bought outright 18 months ago. It seems to be worth anything from 21,000 to 28,500 depending which dealer and which motorhome you're trying to do a deal on.


I've been to Cranham's in Essex, Brownhills in Cannock who offered a maximum of £26,000, Lazy Days in Shropshire who have the Dethleffs and the Rimor and are offering £28,500 on mostly everything but reducing some motorhomes more than others, in conjunction.


I travelled all the way to HymerUK up in Preston today, where I bought my existing van, on what seemed like a promise only to be told that £26,500 was the maximum on most vans that fitted our preferred layout.


To be honest, I admit I'm getting hooked on getting a good deal rather than going for the right combination of floorspace and chassis but...



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Hi Jackal


Whilst you're sorting out what to go for do you really need the travel cot? Couldn't you make up a bed on one of the dinette seats instead, putting a cot style side against the table and one at the end? We had an elderly dog and to keep her from wandering around in the night we did a similar thing to keep her on the dinette. Just a thought for the interim.


As for a van for you, do you take anyting in particular around with you (beside the kiddy paraphanalia), ie bikes, canoes, etc?

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Quick idea of an 'A' class for you:




They've got the advantage of a small garage at the rear under the single bed so plenty of room for all the gear, the bed is ideal for a kiddy as you can soon make a 'gate' to stop the little darling getting out, and because it's at the rear of the van, you can still use the front to relax etc at night without disturbing him/her, and then you've got the drop down bed for ease. There's also the B504 as well:




Hymer B504 and the Hymer B524, the former is a slightly shorter version of the same layout. The original B504 Classic was 5.99m and was launched in Dusseldorf a couple of years ago for around £40k (RHD) sold via Hymer UK, the B524 (around 6.2m) had been around for a bit longer as it was this that the 504 was based on as a slightly shorter pared down spec version. You should be able to find both of these on the second hand market within your budget.


There may be other manufacturers who do a similar thing but we were quite taken with the above when we saw them.

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Mel B,


Great minds think alike... we had already narrowed our search down to the Hymer 524 and larger 624. Lazy Days have a 53 644 on a Fiat 2.8JTD with 14K on the clock for £42,000 but on shopping around this looks a bit steep even when you consider they are offering us £28,500 for ours. I'm going for a test drive tomorrow in it and will offer mine plus another cheeky 10,000 if all is well.


HymerUK had an 04 Arto 69GL A class for a reduced £36,995 but they'd only go to £26,500 on mine leaving me with £10,500 to finance. The Arto has the double floor storage but I prefer the layout and look of the Hymer but whether he'll knock 3,500 off is a tad optimistic IMHO.


Otherwise, I'm left with the new 2006 Dethleffs on the old Tranny 135, an excellent deal on a van that it is not ideal on two counts, it's size and the outdated cab but probably ticks most boxes in terms of layout and looks.

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Had Test Drive in Hymer B644 on the 2.8JTD. Absolutely loved it! Clocked all the goodies that come with it; alloys, air con, electric heating, tow bar, reversing camera, oven etc. etc. Started salivating. Composed myself. Made silly offer...


Got turned down flat!!! :$


"You're only getting £28,500 for yours because we want shut of the 2006 Dethleffs!"


Result - Trade in + £13,500 for a 53 Hymer 644 14,560 miles with all the extras I could ever wish for! Advice anyone?


Conclusion - Shop around some more but realise that the van I want is available if I want to go that far into debt.

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My experience for what its worth..


Traded 'up' from a Burstner low profile to a Bessacarr E class overcab and then back 'down' to a low profile.


The overcab was significantly slower and less economical - comfortable motorway crusing about 10 mph less and gobbling 20+% more fuel into the bargain. Headwinds having a disastorous impact on that and it felts overcab felt big and conspicuous in the sort of places we generally go to. I guess an A-class falls somewhere in the middle.


Personally, I have never been comfortable with an A-classs because of the larger area of single glazed glass - and the increase in conspicuousness. (not to metion the additional £10k or so)


One unexpected advantage of the overcab is that the Luton provided rain protection for the cab windows when parked.





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Guest JudgeMental

this is a bit daft with two threads on same subject....




B 644 G 03 models around 48000 euro = 32k

B 644 G 06 models around 60000 euro = 41k

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