The first thing you notice when you arrive at Danbury MotorCaravans in Yate, Bristol is that this is a truly large-scale operation. Leaving the visitors’ car park, we walked past more than 100-recently imported Brazilian Bay window vans all waiting to be converted in to Campervans. And that’s not all, there were also rows of T5s as well as fully-fitted Bay vans (both new and pre-owned) on the forecourt. A very impressive sight!
Every aspect of this business is slick and professional – from the reception (complete with a cut-down VW!), through the extensive workshops and onto the sales floor, it’s an impressive set-up.
Speaking of the sales floor, we should mention the impressive line-up of vans on show inside the building. Of course, the full range of Bay window models were on show (displaying each of the three main conversions), but there were also three models of T5 conversions as well as some Fiat Doblo and Scudo Campers, too. Not quite finished when we visited was the new VW Caddy range – a slightly smaller-scale Camper with the footprint of a car.
The Bay windows are a far cry from the ancient air-cooled versions sold in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. These new vans are fitted with luxuries such as servo-assisted disc brakes and, in some cases speed sensitive power steering. They can be ordered in RHD format, if required, and all are fitted with a modern fuel-injected ‘Total Flex’ engine similar to that found in the VW Fox. The 1.4-litre motor might sound small, yet produces around 80bhp and roughly 90ft/lb of torque. That’s a fair amount more power than the old 1600cc air-cooled VW, and thanks to the modern electronic ECU control and fuel injection, it’s fabulously smooth and a real pleasure to drive. Incidentally, they will also run on bio-fuel if required, making them far greener than their air-cooled predecessors!
And, having checked out the interior options (the Amigo, 4-seater and 5-seater versions), we were impressed by the functionality and build-quality of the interiors too. The sky truly is the limit if you choose to ‘spec-up’ your own conversion, with luxuries such as thermostatic, digital-timer controlled central heating, fully integrated sound systems supporting all the gadgets you could ever require – they really are a big step up from the trusty old Camper conversions of the 1970s.
While we were there, several bespoke builds were in progress. One had a huge sound-system included (for a rock-star owner) and another was a luxury people-carrier conversion for a famous footballer. Check the website for an idea of the options list available – it’s far more than just ‘any colour you like’!
The workshops are joined to the main showroom and were packed with part-converted vans when we visited. These guys also cover servicing and repairs, so there’s no worries about where to get your vehicle serviced at a later date.
Moving past the Bays, we had a good look around the extensive stock rooms where we found everything from heated windscreens to wheels, tyres and every possible spare part you can imagine.
In the research and development department we found the workings of a new, fold-flat rock and roll bed, which was being engineered to pass all crash tests and to cater for seat belts etc. Incidentally, rock and roll beds can be trimmed in any material and colour combination, as can the rest of the seating and soft furnishings inside a new Camper.
Just opposite was the T5 conversion station. One van was receiving a new pop-top and a full set of windows, prior to the installation of a full interior. That’s right, not every T5 is a brand-new van, a new venture involves the purchase of very clean, low-mileage vans and Kombis, which are then converted to Camper vans at Danbury. This provides a lower-cost T5 option over the normal range of brand new vehicles.
If you’re considering a new or pre-owned Danbury converted Bay,
Caddy or T5, we’d certainly suggest you call to make an appointment to pop down and check them out in person. If you weren’t already convinced, you will be! We were blown away by the sheer quality of these vans, and the pre-and after-sales service is second-to-none. Of course, warranties and service schedules are available. Oh, and be sure to tell them who sent you! UVW