Hightop: A panel van (delivery van)
often elegantly converted with a special high fixed roof. The 'wheelbase' of the van
chassis has a strong influence on available space since the internal width is more or
less fixed. Long wheelbase chassis give the
most space but can be unwieldy to drive. Medium wheelbase has been quite
popular but MWB is not available on all vehicles. Often known as
a 'camper' or 'campervan' or sometimes Dormobile after an original manufacturer or
even the very old-fashioned "caravanette".
A variant of the above with a 'folding roof' to lower the overall profile.
Also known as a 'pop-top'. Has obvious advantages when driving but
there are some problems with insulation and water ingress for all year
Coachbuilt / C-Class:
An extended chassis on a van
cab with a coachbuilt living space, rather like having a high spec
caravan on the back. The wider 'caravan' body allows designers to cleverly
incorporate almost everything you could need into a quite small space - even cross-body beds big enough for
a six footer. Frequently called a 'motorcaravan'. Also known as a C-Class in the
Many have overcab beds in the 'Luton' but there are also 'low-profile'
versions of these motorcaravans without the Luton over-cab space and sometimes with a
lower roofline, these vans are much more economical on motorways due to
their improved aerodynamics. Sleeping arrangements include fixed and
composite beds and range from 2-6 berth or more. Do note that the number
of berths and travel seats don't always match up! Garage models
like the one pictured left have a storage area under fixed a rear bed; please note that carrying
scooters or small cars in a motorcaravan can mean it is reclassified for
test purposes and may require an annual HGV Plating test from new. See
or Integrated: A medium
or largish 'van completely
coachbuilt - i.e. with nothing of the original van bodywork or cab exterior. Potentially
the best design since almost everything is based on the needs of
motorcaravanners but they are usually rather expensive and historically not that popular in the
UK though this is changing. These days they are about 2.2 metres
wide like the c-class coachbuilts and often have a transverse 'drop-down' double bed
stored in the roof over the
cab seats offering much more bed-headroom than the Luton bed in a c-class. Often only 3 berth
but models up to 6 berths are available.
Definitely the posh end of the market and usually referred to as a 'motorhome'.
Garage models; please note that carrying scooters or small cars in a
motorhome may mean it is reclassified for test purposes and may now
require an annual HGV Plating test from new. See base vehicles.
motorhomes built in the style that only the Americans do!
very large with all mod cons including multiple air conditioning, on-board
freezers and generators and with huge diesel or petrol engines that are
very expensive to run in Europe - although many petrol versions
have been converted to run on LPG. Base vehicles are frequently coach
type bodies but full A-Class versions exist too.
Expedition Vehicles: Monsters with
survival at heart. The pinnacle is probably the Desert Challenger, 12
metres long with eight wheel drive, multiple body slide outs and weighing
in at 30 tonnes, it takes 2400 litres of fuel, 2000 litres of water and
cost a cool £1M - or thereabouts!
What's in a name? Motorcaravan, Motor Caravan, Motorhome, Camper, Camping-car, RV, even Mo'van -
what is the difference between them all? The answer is none, they are all
interchangeable - even if some groups prefer to use one or the other. But I rather
doubt that many A-Class owners would refer to their pride and joy as a 'camper'! European names might confuse the issue still further since
many use their own versions of 'fully integrated' and 'semi-integrated' for A & C Class 'vans.
Not surprisingly then some foreign manufacturers adopt terms like 'B Klasse'
and 'S Class' as names for their own model ranges - both these being
called A-Class designs in the UK. The Spanish and Italians
differentiate the vehicle construction with names like Autocaravanna for
the classic C-Class motorcaravan with a caravan body built onto a chassis cab, while the
French usually go for Profilé for their low profile
C-Class. The only universally accepted European name seems to be camping-car
and Europeans usually translate that to 'camper' in English but we don't
seem to accept that name here - all very confusing! Worse still is a
new trend based on the German 'Reisemobil' being translated as 'mobile
home'! Despite the efforts of many of us this seems almost
with both our UK trend away from mobile homes towards the more upmarket
term 'park homes' plus the great importance of German companies within
the motorhome market. Put it all down to the evolution of language
We used to use the term motorcaravan almost exclusively on this site but
motorhome now seems to be more fashionable so in the interests of being
found more in web searches we will use motorhome more too.