I have to admit that I started to miss the Bongo after we had it scrapped. Although it only got used a few times a year, I liked the idea of being able to jump in it at a whim and disappear into the hills. The thing that often stopped me doing so was the prohibitive cost, it was a gas guzzler getting only around 23mpg.
Looking round for a more economical replacement I was shocked at just how expensive campervans are these days. Even panel vans with less than 100k on the clock and in good nick cost enough to make your eyes water. I then discovered a company based in North Wales that makes removable campervan kits for van based MPV’s, I was sold on the idea.
There are loads of these types of vehicles knocking about which means that you can easily buy a decent one second hand. We opted for the rather utilitarian looking Fiat Doblo, finding one with low mileage and a reasonably powerful 1.9 litre diesel engine. It’s proved more than capable of getting up the steepest moorland roads and cruising comfortably on the motorways. A week after getting the car, the campervan kit arrived from Wales. Here are a few photos showing how it all works (mud and dog hair courtesy of Reuben).
Just another car parked at a muddy North York Moors car park.
When driving around it is a normal 5 seater car, the camper kit hidden in the boot.
The Amdro boot jump sits in the boot ready for use. It simply clamps into place and can be removed when not needed.
To make a bed you simply pull the front seats forward and flatten the back seats. The Amdro boot jump then folds outwards to provide a flat platform. The lighter curved section at the front can be removed to access storage boxes underneath and to make a table when in day mode.
The cushions then fit onto the platform to give a very comfortable bed. I’m 6ft and I can lay flat with no problems. There is room for a couple, or a man and his Staffy. Reuben will have to be relegated to one of the front seats when there is two of us though!
For day mode you remove the curved section and using the pole provided it becomes a handy table. Two people can sit and eat comfortably.
The kitchen unit slides out on rails from under one of the seats. Under the other seat there are two plastic crates for storage.
The stove is a high quality double alcohol burner, mainly designed for use on boats. It is simple and works well. A spill proof reservoir under each burner holds over a litre of fuel. There is then enough room to store your kitchen equipment, although you have to be fairly minimalist. It’s a handy thing to have even when not using the van as a camper. It is easy to just pull over and make a cuppa or cook a meal. If the weather is bad the stove unit can be lifted out and used inside (making sure there is adequate ventilation).
Over the past weekend it proved to be a comfy place to hang out whilst the wind blasted across the North York Moors. I’ll do a proper review at some point after using it over the next year. The main thing I will be looking at is how it copes with extended use and abuse.
Amdro can be found here.