I’ve just said a sad farewell to an Auto Campers Classic Day Van – a small campervan I’ve been looking forward to testing since I saw the prototype at the Boat and Caravan Show in Birmingham back in February. Unfortunately circumstances meant my colleague Iain Geddes did the full test last weekend and I only managed to take it home for one evening.
Nevertheless, it still strikes me as a van that’s been designed by someone who understands what’s needed in a unit to use every day. It’s the little things that make it, such as the diesel two-ring hob that doesn’t rattle when you’re driving around town. Using diesel also means you don’t have to worry about turning off the gas before you drive off and you’re welcome in the Channel Tunnel, so why don’t more converters use it?
The Day Van is based on a Ford Transit and you know you’re driving a diesel van from the engine note. And there are slightly fewer creature comforts than in a VW T5, for example. Nevertheless the price differential is considerable. Day Van prices start at less than £25,000 while the cheapest VW California comes in at more than £42,000.
To be honest, it’s a relief to drive a campervan where the handbrake is in a sensible place. However many times I drive a Fiat Ducato conversion I struggle with the parking brake on the right-hand side. I find I need to do an orang-utan impression to reach it. The Transit conversion also looks like a standard white van from the front (apart from the awning on the offside) so people on the road tend to treat you as a ‘white van man’ at first glance – which gives a certain sense of power for someone who normally drives a supermini.
The living space in the Day Van is sleek and functional. It looks as if it would be easy to keep clean, with the furniture being made of polypropylene. I managed a whole evening and morning without bashing myself on any of the interior. I can’t remember the last time I achieved that in a small motorhome. There’s plenty of space for luggage and room for four to travel in comfort, with all the passengers having loads of leg room, not to mention a massive ‘boot’ space behind the rear passenger seats.
For the full test report you’ll need to wait for Iain’s feature in February’s issue of Camping & Caravanning, when there should be some decent pictures too. Unfortunately I only had my phone to hand during my short trial.
It would be great to try this van again in the summer – opening the sliding door to use the kitchen from outside and sitting under the awning. I wonder if Roy Woods Transits will let it out again in 2012? Here’s hoping…