The title of this post could be considered incorrect. ‘Types of Motorhome’ would suffice. Although motorhomes and campervans are two different vehicle types, in recent years ‘Motorhome’ has become a parent term used for both. This post introduces the two main types of motorhome and in further posts I’ll cover the variations of each of these.
‘Campervan’ may conjure images of a smaller, more compact vehicle than a ‘Motorhome’. Whereas you may think of a ‘Motorhome’ as a fully loaded American style RV.
Another factor considered to define a ‘campervan’ from a ‘motorhome’ is vehicle body type. Van conversions were considered ‘campervans’ whereas coach-built vehicles were classed as ‘motorhomes’. This is where the confusion now lies. Leisure vehicle manufacturers are converting large 6.4mtr campervans whilst there’s coach-built vehicles at only 5.2mtr’s long. So, from this point forward I’ll use the generic term of Motorhome when referring to either.
Types of Motorhome
The two main categories of motorhome are van conversion, and coach-built. Lets look at these in more detail.
This type of motorhome doesn’t stray far from the base van form. Van conversions may have adapted roof sections but the body is the original panel van construction. Adapted roofs include raised solid construction from GRP or a ‘pop-top’ elevating tent style roof.
Converted vans are generally narrower than coach-built bodies. The vehicles dimensions dictate a compact layout design but manufacturers are well rehearsed in optimising the space they have available.
Converting a panel van in to a campervan is a time consuming process. All fixtures have to be cut to the shape of the vans body and it’s difficult for more than one person to work in the vehicles interior at one time. The cost of a van converted motorhome can be expensive compared to a coach built model due to the relatively slow and involved build process.
If you’re looking to purchase an older motorhome, van conversions are considered a more reliable body type over coach-built motorhomes.
Think of a van cab with a caravan rear. This is very roughly what a coach-built motorhome consists of. The beauty of this type of motorhome is the rear section dimensions are be built to accommodate the optimum interior layout.
When compared to a van conversion, coach built bodies are a much more efficient build process. Coach built bodies are built and fitted out separately from the chassis and cab. The body usually has flat square sides which are much easier to fit out. Coach built living areas can be mass produced and then fitted to the chassis cab once complete.
Coach-built vans are generally wider than panel van conversions. This maybe a factor if you’re not comfortable behind the wheel of large vehicles.
Another downside with coach-built vehicles is they’re normally built around a timber frame. Over time it is common for coach-built motorhomes to develope leaks in the body. This is due to the movement of the timber framework.
If you’re considering purchasing an older coach-built motorhome it is wise to have a habitation check. This report will detect any moisture ingress which could possibly have caused rot within the body.
There’s pro’s and con’s to both these types of vehicle. Take advantage of a motorhome show or local dealership to take a closer look at both coach-built and van converted motorhomes.
In Part 2, I’ll look at the variations of both van conversions and coach-built motorhomes