Finding The Almost Perfect European Motorhome
Our primary task when we got back to the UK was always to find a new RV. Being homeless kind of clarifies your priorities in this respect. In this earlier post we described some of the things we planned to take into consideration when deciding what motorhome would be the best choice for us.
The search was not too lengthy. We looked around a few showrooms and attended a motorhome show to clarify our thoughts and desires after months of internet searching and YouTube videos. Surprisingly, it got tedious quite quickly and we decided that we just wanted to get one ordered so we could start traveling as soon as possible. As I mentioned in the last post, finding a left hand drive model in the UK is a challenge and after seeing a few near misses we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would have to order and import from Germany.
It used to be the case that motorhomes were much cheaper in Germany than the UK. These days, with the British Pound being so weak against the Euro, this disparity is not quite as much as it was. Importing a motorhome can be straightforward if you know what you are doing but the one big issue that is hard to overcome is the risk of driving it back from Germany to the UK. You cannot get fully comprehensive insurance for that journey and we didn't fancy putting all our cash into a motorhome and then driving the first few hundred miles on only third party insurance. For this reason, and because honestly we didn't want the hassle, we approached the excellent folks at a small family run company called Bundesvan who specialize in importing continental motorhomes into the UK.
We had narrowed our preference to the Hymer T (Tramp) 704SL. It had most of the features we wanted but we didn't love the large wall to wall bed at the back. It was big and comfy but difficult to get in and out off. But to choose their walk around option would have meant losing a lot of garage space. We decided it was a trade off we would make. Bob at Bundesvan gave us some good advice. Make a list of the top 10 things you want in a motorhome and when you find a unit that ticks 7 boxes - buy it.
Bob had a dealer in Germany who had a brand new matching unit, due in from the factory at some point in the next few months. There was nothing perfect for us in current inventory at any German dealer so we were going to have to wait until June or July to get in it. Bob then also mentioned that he had just acquired a unit that day that he thought we should look at. It was a Carthago, C-Tourer I-150, just a few years old (registered in 2015) and very gently used with only around 3,500 miles on it. We had kind of decided on the Hymer and resigned oursleves to the fact that we'd need to wait but said why not, let's take a look.
I wish I could tell you the fairy tale that we fell in love with it when we stepped inside. We didn't. What we saw was an immaculate model, that had decor that we felt we could live with, a lot of features already installed that we wanted; solar panels, SOG toilet vent, Gaslow conversion for LPG, a walk around island bed, a huge garage, it was left hand drive and had an automatic gearbox. Carthago have an excellent reputation and the build quality seemed exceptional.
The only things we didn't like; no oven, and an over cab bed that had long been our reservation about integrated motorhomes. By our count that's more than 7 things we liked and 2 we didn't. Plus we could have it now. Oh and did I mention that this used model costs over 20% less than the new one we had our eye on in Germany.
So we did it, we made the decision. By buying gently used we saved the fees for importing and of-course someone else paid for the upgrades and the depreciation. All costs you don't get back. If after a year we decide this lifestyle isn't for us we won't have sunk a whole lot more money in that we'll never recover. The money we saved will easily cover some other, nice to have upgrades. We've already scheduled a lithium battery and inverter installation at RoadPro in early June.
So, not a perfect match for our needs but after a few weeks in our new Carthago we are delighted with our decision so far. It may not have been love at first sight but we definitely feel the slow burn of affection for our new home growing every day.