Beginners Guide to Motorhome Ownership – Types of Motorhomes

Campervans (VW Campers)

These iconic Volkswagen campervans are still being produced today and have a dedicated following, with a range of clubs and magazines available to enthusiasts.

Campers will generally sleep between 2 and 4 comfortably but are small enough to be driven in cities as well as on the open road, making them famously popular for touring around Europe.

They are available with a huge range of features including raising roofs, windscreen sun visors, surfboard roof racks and chrome trims and fittings – either direct from Volkswagen or through a number of specialist converters.

When it comes to insurance for older models, you may have to consider a ‘classic’ vehicle policy as many specialist motorhome policies have a vehicle age limit

Van conversions

Often referred to as panel van conversions, these medium to large sized motorhomes are built using well known commercial vehicles as a base unit and nearly always feature a sliding side door.

They offer a good amount of space inside and many come with roomy wash rooms and better equipped kitchens than the smaller or micro-sized van conversions.

Many have a double bed at the rear, running across the width of the van, so taller motorhomers may struggle to fit. For this reason it’s important to check the layout and dimensions of the van before buying.

Popular manufacturers of van conversions include: Autosleepers, Bilbo, IH Motorhomes and Murvi

Conventional coachbuilt motorhomes

These are possibly the most common type of motorhome on British roads, and are characterised by their large over-cab hump which often houses a bed or spacious storage area.

These motorhomes are popular as they offer a practical solution for small families or couples wanting to travel throughout the UK and Europe. They typically have a washroom and kitchen fitted as standard, along with room to sleep between 2 and 6 people.

The front end cabs of coachbuilt motorhomes may look familiar – that’s because the ‘base vehicle’ of such motorhomes are popular vans such as Ford Transits, Peugeot Boxers, Fiat Ducatos and Mercedes Spinters.

Popular manufacturers of conventional coachbuilt motorhomes include: Autocruise, Autosleeper, Elddis and Swift

Low profile coachbuilt motorhomes

Very similar in style and features to the above ‘conventional coachbuilt motorhome’ the low profile design does away with the over cab bed in favour of a lower roof and streamlined shape, this gives better clearance and more car like handling.

Tag axle (twin axle) motorhomes

Some very large coachbuilt motorhomes require a third set of wheels to support the weight and length of the unit in a similar way to a ‘twin axle’ caravan, this third axle is know as a ‘tag axle’.

Tag axle motorhomes allow even more space inside but the twin rear axle means that driving them may take a little adjusting to.

A-class motorhomes

These often very large motorhomes are recognizable by having no separate cab area as common with conventional coachbuilt motorhomes, as well as a ‘bus like’ large front windscreen, and are usually imported from Europe or further afield.

Built from scratch on a bare chassis by the motorhome manufacturer you can expect bags of room and home comforts including domestic style washrooms and kitchen fixtures, as well as full sized beds and spacious living areas.

Popular manufacturers of A-class motorhomes include: Frankia, Pilote and Hymer

American ‘Recreational Vehicles’ (RVs)

Coming from the USA these units are typically big, bold and brash – but can offer massive amounts of space, comfort and features including full sized refrigerators and ovens as well as king sized beds and washrooms with domestic spec fittings. Many even feature ‘slide outs’ – which mean certain sections of the motorhome can be extended to create extra floor space.

Typically used for long tours or full timing around Europe or the US these huge units are unrivalled when it comes to luxury and comfort.

Popular manufacturers of American RV motorhomes include: Georgie Bay and Winnebago

Home built motorhomes

Some enthusiasts design and build a motorhome themselves to suit their needs. These can range from simple van conversions up to impressive custom builds and there are a range of websites and clubs dedicated to self builds that provide helpful info for any would be DIYers.

Watch out though as many insurance companies cannot provide cover for home built motorhomes.

Micro motorhomes

These tiny motorhomes are usually conversions of small van style cars and offer limited space for one or two people to sleep, as well as basic cooking equipment and space for a small cassette toilet.

Their diminutive size makes them a breeze to drive, particularly in typically crowded European towns where narrow streets and busy roads make the city centre a no go area for all but these nippy little motorhomes.

Popular manufacturers of micro motorhomes include: Romahome and Drivelodge