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Our search for a fixed rear bed high top campervan conversion

Me in my first Hanomag Henschel 508 camperFairly soon after I finished converting my own van I've ummed and aahed about how to make the cab more useful when you are parked on on site. It's one of the things that I remember fondly about campervan holidays with my family that, when we used to hire our old Ford Transit based Landliner, or coachbuilts (I wish I could remember the name of the Oxfordshire campervan rental place... Dad?!), we used to so freely be able to move between cab and and van that I'm sure on wet weather day or other occasion we used to not even have to leave the van. In fact it was the same in my first van (the Hanomag Henschel conversion you can see here). It had a twin airplane seat (pictured) that swiveled 360 degrees on a pin bolted through the floor so you really had quite a large front lounge. But I never managed to nail it in the LT35.

Thoughts on a swivel seat solution for the existing van

And I don't believe that the LT35 was at fault. It's a plenty big enough van for a conversion, but because the engine is under the cab there is a large engine cowel, on top of which the double passenger seat sits. The closest I got to utilising this space better was to ask a welder whether he would be able to unweld the seat from it's pipe-built base, weld in two flat steel plates, and fit a locking swivel to it, but I never had it done. It would have meant the double passenger seat would have become a comfortable sofa in the cab.

Using the cab space for an occasional bed

The other use of this kind of space can of course also be for sleeping arrangements. My son Archie usually sleeps on the passenger seat thanks to canny use of an allan key to take the back seat off, and some board to level the base before flinging an inflatable Thomas The Tank Engine bed on top! This was of course a drag to put together, and when touring, would add extra time onto setting up and stripping down the, thus loosing all importnat relaxation time. (It was hard to do with your first glass of wine in your hand! ;))

Transverse beds at the rear and belted seats in the front

The only real way to include a front lounge in a panel van that's not been extended beyond the typical ong wheel based vehicles available is to have a transverse rear bed (that is to say a bed that goes from side to side of the van at the back). This is the primary reason why I bought a VW LT - the body of the vehicle is wide enough for an adult to sleep across (just over 6ft). Since the LT there have been maybe only one or two panel vans made this wide - the LDV 900 is one example I can think of. That is until now. The new Fiat/ Ducato/Peugeot Boxer panel vans lead the pack of new extra wide panel vans that have breathed life back into the compact campervan conversion market.
Fixed rear beds and practicalities
The popular layout of choice as used by the usual campervan converters feature both front seats swivelling 360 degrees; double belted front facing rear seats in a front dinette, which converst into a large single bed (which can sleep two small kids if needs be); a very compact kitchen with a 2 burner hob, sink, and a grill as an option on most, as well as a meagre amount of storage; a decent sized shower room and toilet; a raised, fold up rear double bed and lots of storage space underneath. There is of course also the option to have the rear bed fixed if you don't believe you'll ever require the route through to the back doors, or the space for carrying bicycles and the like.
The curent market for fixed rear beds
As of Jan '09 there are several manufacturers providing a conversion on the Fiat/Peugeot chassis. All of them are more or less identical, with slightly differing levels of quality of interior finish. Annoyingly they are also almost all identically priced. Below is a table of comparison data from all the current available models as well as some small comparison images of internal and external (where currently available). You can also click through to read more information on each one, and there are links to ebay as well as other good used campervan websites.

I write this as I have found very little useful information online to help with the decision making process, no comparisons across all of the available options (and they are so similar it does beg the question as to why no one else has done this - MMM for example. In fact the only comparison is between the Adria twin and the xxxxxxxxxx in December 08's Practical Caravan Magazine, which you can still back order). It is in no way an authoritative guide and as I have yet to test drive any of them, or long term test them you'll have to read between the lines when making decisions about which you want to go for! Happy reading :)

Autocruise Pace exterior
Autocruise Pace
Trigano Tribute 665 exterior
Trigano Tribute 665
Adria Twin 09 exterior
Adria Twin 09 exterior
Chausson Twist 03 exterior
Chausson Twist 03
Burstner City Car exterior
Burstner City Car
Burstner City Car interior
Hymer Car
Burstner City Car exterior
Roller Team
Livingstone exterior
Autocruise Pace interior
Autocruise Pace
Trigano Tribute 665 interior
Trigano Tribute 665
Adria Twin 09 interior
Adria Twin 09 interior
Chausson Twist 03 interior
Chausson Twist 03
Burstner City Car interior
Burstner City Car
Burstner City Car interior
Hymer Car
Burstner City Car interior
Roller Team
Livingstone interior
Autocruise Pace
photos here
Trigano Tribute
photos here
Adria Twin
photos here
Chausson Twist
photos here
Burstner City
Car photos here
Hymer Car
photos here
Roller Team
photos here
Autocruise Pace
on Google here
Trigano Tribute
on Google here
Adria Twin
on Google here
Twist on Google here
Burstner City
Car on Google here
Hymer Car
on Google here
Roller Team
Car on Google here
Pace on ebay here
Tribute on ebay here
Adria Twin
on ebay here
Twist on ebay here
Burstner City
Car on ebay here
Hymer Car
on ebay here
Roller Team
Car on ebay here

autocruise pace trigano tribute 665 adria twin chausson twist 03 burstner city car urbano livingstone 3
cost 36000 32000 36000 33000
cooker yes yes yes no
Technical Data
Engine Maximum Power (bhp) 120bhp 120/160bhp 120/157bhp
Engine Maximum Torque 320Nm
Engine Displacement 2.2L
Wheelbase 4.04m 4.04m 4.04m
Designated Passenger Seats 3 3 3 3
Number of Sleeping Positions 3 3 3 3
Maximum Technical Permissible Laden Mass (A) 3500kg 3300kg 3300kg
Mass in Running Order (B) 1 2975kg 2730kg 2980kg
Maximum User Payload (A-B) 525kg
Essential Habitation Equipment 12kg
Overall Length (no ladder) 6m 5.95m 5.99m 5.99m
Overall Width (Mirrors Folded) 2.25m 2.05m 2.05m 2.05m
Overall Height 2.55m 2.68m 2.58m 2.65m
Interior Height 1.90m 1.89m
Front Offside Single 1.73m x 0.9m/0.54m 1.65 x 0.55m 1.30x0.94m
Rear Double 1.92m x 1.35m 1.44 x 1.90m 1.96mx1.45m
Panel van
Peugeot Boxer/Fiat Ducato panel van
ABS yes yes
EBD (electronic brake force distribution)
Variable power steering
Driver's airbag yes yes
Electric operated cab windows yes, timted yes
Electrically adjusted and heated wing mirrors yes yes
Headlamp height adjustment yes yes
Remote central locking
Immobiliser with rolling code Pre-wired radio (cabin) + LS
Radio/CD/MP3 player Radio/CD/MP3 player
Driver and passenger seats with:
Position, height and rake adjustment yes yes
Swivels yes yes
Two armrests yes yes
Full upholstered covers yes yes
Adjustable steering wheel position
Concertina windscreen blind and thermal side window screens
Cab carpet (removable)
Two DIN sockets
Electrically operated side entrance step yes yes yes
LED side entrance light
Double glazed windows
Gas bottle capacity 2x7kg 90 2x7kg
Body insulated with high performance 3M's 'Thinsulate'
TV cupboard
Removable carpets over vinyl flooring
Heki rooflight with flyscreen and adjustable blind
Mini Heki clear rooflight with flyscreen and blind
Lap and diagonal seat belts on designated rear passenger seat(s)
Cassette flyscreens and blinds on all windows
230v/12v/gas fridge with freezer compartment 80l 60l 70l 77l
Stainless steel sink with glass lid
Matt chrome finish brass pillar tap with long spout
2-burner hob and grill yes - SMEV yes yes
Mirrored vanity cupboard and fixed washbasin
Shower mixer with riser bar
Thetford cassette toilet with electric flush yes yes yes
Multi-directional rooflight with flyscreen
Heating and Plumbing
Space heating Truma Combi4 gas and elecric blown air heating and water heater 2 kw Webasto diesel powered blown air system  Truma Combi
Water heating as above Truma 10 litre gas powered water heater  as above
Fresh water tank capacity (66L / 14.5gal) 66l 85l 110l 100l
Waste water tank capacity (50L / 11gal) 50l 90l 90l 90l
External shower point
Fully protected mains electric system
230V sockets (2)
Charger/Transformer (25A)
12V control panel controls for: Storage locker with exterior access
Vehicle/Leisure battery selection
Water pump and lighting circuits
Tank levels
Vehicle and leisure battery state
Accommodation battery (85Ah)
TV station with aerial, 230V and 12V sockets TV preparation 12V/220V
25 metre mains hook-up cable
Factory Fitted Options
Roll-out awning
Engine upgrade 157 bhp (Fiat) with Comfort matic automatic gearbox, cab air-conditioning, cruise control and alloy wheels
Comfort Pack - Cab air-conditioning combined with cruise control and alloy wheels with 120 bhp engine
Factory Fitted Optional Extras data
Factory Fitted Optional Extras Price
Upgrade from 120bhp engine to 160bhp with Comfortmatic auto gearbox and Comfort Pack * £4,688.09
Roll-out canopy awning £582.34
Comfort Pack:
Cab air conditioning
Cruise control
Alloy wheels
Charger/Transformer system Std
Cutlery drawer Std
Graphite slate grey worktops  Std
Wood effect Dashboard embellishment  n/a
Alloy effect Dashboard embellishment  Std
12 v sockets  1
230 v sockets  3
Coaxial aerial socket  1
Pleated windsceen and can door blinds Std
LCD flatscreen TV point  n/a
Digital 12 v management system Std
Scatter cushions x 2 Std
Roof bars   Std
Colour coded side styling skirts   Std
Floor coverings and Upholstery
Vinyl Floor Std
Removable Carpets Sport  Std
Removable Cab Carpet  Std
Classique’ upholstery and dress curtains  n/a
Sport’ upholstery and dress curtains  Std
Matching upholstered driver and passenger seat covers  Std
Parapress windows with fitted blinds and flyscreens  Std
Panoramic Sun roof light  Std
Transparent roof lights Std
A classic traveller wagon converted for a 5 month drive round Europe. My second conversion, and from scratch. A great base vehicle, first of 2 owned. Our spell of luxury in this classic modern high top conversion. The best of all worlds! Sits 6, sleeps 4, and has a shower!
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