This week's throwback Thursday takes us back six years, with a post from 19 September 2011.
It all started because we had bought a nice tent last year, which we didn’t have the opportunity to use. Clare used it very successfully on her week in the northwest of France, and we decided to give it a go later this year (weather permitting). The only snag is the dogs. They would, obviously, come with us, but I had serious concerns about camping in the company of other people, with two dogs – one of whom will go wild if anyone has the nerve to move within half a parsec of where he is sleeping, and one who will follow whatever the other does – held in at night by a piece of man-made material.
Having given it a lot of thought, we decided that the children’s inheritance hadn’t been raided for a while, so we started looking for inexpensive campers. There are, of course, a number of considerations to these things, not least of which is size. With the kind of sum we had in mind, we had a good choice of vehicles ranging from six meter coachbuilts down to vans the size of VW, Hiace etc with professional or home-made conversions and, of course, everything in between. Budget being one of the determining factors, we were restricted to vans between about twenty-five and almost forty years old.
I am a great believer in compromise. We would both have loved a substantial van, and there were many on offer within our price range, but we saw potential problems with parking, running costs and so on. We also looked at smaller vans, VW conversions mostly, but they seemed a little cramped inside. We finally settled on the van pictured below.
It is an Autostar on a Renault Trafic chassis. Although twenty-eight years old, its mileage appears genuine at a little under 110,000 Kms (68,500 miles). According to the registration papers, it was bought new in 1983, used by the same person for eighteen years, when it was sold to a specialist dealer – possibly in part-exchange for a newer model. The man from whom we bought it acquired it from that dealer in 2001. Two owners in twenty-eight years is not bad.
It is, though, still twenty-eight years old, with a 1.6l petrol engine. It is, therefore, not a racer. We drove the 150 odd kilometres to collect it this afternoon (Monday 19th) and, after going through the formalities – this is France, so lots of forms, some in triplicate, on which to put information that can be read from the registration document, which has to be submitted with the forms – Clare followed me home. We did it that way, rather than have Clare come home first, because it was a bit of an unknown quantity, and we haven’t yet learned to trust it implicitly.
We used the autoroute as much as possible, and batted along quite nicely at a sedate 90-100kph.
Until, that is, we reached a positive gradient, when I was forced to switch straight to the crawler lane. Fortunately, I have been driving a 1.2l low emissions Twingo for a couple of years, so I no longer die of embarrassment when a 60 foot tanker truck passes me uphill!
We got her home in one piece, then decided to take a couple of external and internal shots, so that our loyal reader (we know who you are, but we promise not to tell anyone) can have an idea of what we have just spent our money on.
Fortunately, it ended up coming in at exactly half our budget. That leaves some cash for any necessary repairs – new exhaust is first priority, followed by an engine tune to ensure we are getting the best from it – as well as a little for beautification.
By the way – the dogs went mad when we arrived. It was an unknown vehicle, and so a suitable object for much noise. As soon as they were allowed inside, they seemed very happy with it and, as you can see, Trevor is quite content to see it as an extension of home.