After viewing many different types of motor homes several features seemed important to us and fitting that into our circa £15K target budget meant that a cross country search prevailed during October and November. Our criteria/wish list were:
- a place to relax and we favoured the ‘L’ shaped rear lounge configuration
- as close to 6 metres long as possible to help manoeuvrability
- a European brand as is was my assumption that the Brits are better at caravans than motor homes
- a larger engine than the popular 2.0 turbo diesels due to the mountain regions we would be passing through
- lower than 50K miles
- left hand drive was the preference
- over cab bed, preferably of the swan neck shape due to the extra space/head room
- a captains swivel front seat – only because I had one in the Elgrand I think they are cool…..
- and finally any extras such as reversing cameras, air suspension, second leisure batteries that make touring easier.
So how did we do? Well luckily for us we had Wellsbridge Motorhomes near Huntingdon just down the road and they have a vast selection of second hand stock ranging from almost new to 20 years old and frankly we used their openness and advise to help us understand what we wanted and to get our ‘eyes in’. As an observation, their stock does seem of a high quality if you want to pay their prices. It was at Wellsbridge that I fell in love with a LHD Superbrig Rimor on the twin wheel Transit chassis, but at 7.1 metres long it was a bit of a beast. We missed this one as it was sold within a few days and Sharon was on holiday in Turkey at the time so I could not get her opinion. However, this vehicle led us on to the mid diner and small rear lounge format and this led influenced our search. I then found a 2005 Elnagh Marin 650 in the same format in Shrewsbury but this failed an independent damp inspection.
After a few more trips around the country, the search was now focussed on the smaller rear lounge only vans such as the Ace Napoli, Bessacarr, Eddis Autoquests 400s…..and of course the Swift Suntor or Sundance. Even though these are English builds they covered the majority of what we wanted.
A trip to Ropers in Catterick, North Yorkshire saw us purchase a 2006 Swift Suntor 590 RL on a 2.8 turbo diesel Fiat Ducato. It was a little over our budget but we were happy with our purchase and we could not wait to pick it up on the 12th of December 2015.
The summarised specification of the of our van is:
- Swan neck over cab bed, rear lounge and 6.16 metres long
- Fammia bike rake and awning
- air suspension
- roof mounted large solar panel
- rear reversing camera
- a twin tank Gaslow LPG conversion which I had fitted after the purchase
- and don’t forget the all important swivel seat…….
The Suntor Bus, Updated…..
With our two year eurosuntor anniversary looming it seems like good timing to update this page a little.
Over the last two years we have covered over 18,000 miles driving around Europe without any major breakdown instances. There has been some sizeable issues that have arose but all of these have been rectified by the dealer (Ropers Leisure, in Catterick) and a third party warranty (MB&G Insurance) which was supplied by Ropers as part of the sale which of course has softened the blow. To add, some minor issues have been fixed by us using rudimentary DIY skills whilst out on the road. Here is a list of issues that have arisen in order of occurrence:
- A bad earth connection on the engine battery causing failure to start luckily found before we set off. (covered by Ropers)
- Second key failed to start the vehicle. After trying several avenues unsuccessfully such as ‘reprogramming’ the only way this problem could be solved was by having new key sent to us from Fiat Italy. This cost almost £400!!!! (covered by Ropers)
- Two tyre replacements caused by punctures whilst in Italy. We also made a 3rd tyre purchase as we replaced the spare as it was badly perished.
- Water ingress into the lower floor meaning that sections of the floor had to be replaced. This was repaired again by Ropers themselves at their own workshop in Catterick. The inconvenience for us was that we were without the van for almost three weeks.
- Rear window seal replaced to fix leak. (covered by Ropers)
- Chemical toilet door seal replaced. (covered by Ropers)
- Various light shades, cupboard doors and shelves working loose, generally caused by poor quality road surfaces. All these have been fixed as and when.
- Clutch replacement, a preventative measure as we had some shudder when cold.
- Turbo replacement which stopped the engine management light coming on and low power mode been activated above 3000rpm. When they took the turbo apart for refurbishment the main shaft was bent. (covered by the third party warranty – in fact we claimed on the very last day of it’s 2 year validity)
- Finally we have replaced the leisure battery. Unfortunately we made this purchase in Portugal where batteries are much more expensive.
When you read the list back it sounds pretty bad, but not so negative when you consider that the van is now 14 years old and the type of use we expose it to. You should hear some stories from owners of brand new motorhomes that are used less than ours, this list is nothing in comparison.
Finally the list also makes it clear that buying from the right dealer is paramount, without Ropers’ after sales support the bill to us would have been quite costly and when I get the chance I let fellow motorhomers know about our (good) experience.
On a more personal note, we both love our van. Sure, we stare longingly at the fantanstic new A classes that roll on by, but overall I don’t think we would change our Suntor for any other option available to us (considering MH size, budget etc). We love the rear lounge, the light and views from the three large rear windows and skylights. We also like that the van is not too long meaning we can pretty much go where we want to and that it doesn’t look too ‘posh’ either which helps when parking on the street.
Overall it is great motorhome and I hope now that I have written this update that I have not jinxed it………I would touch some wood for luck, but I can’t find any real wood inside the van, OK a cheap compressed wood chip cupboard door will have to do….don’t ya’ just love Swifts hey!!!!!!
The Suntor still looks tidy in our view considering it’s age. We hope it continues shuffling us around on our travels long into the future. In Marvao, Portugal, Jan 2018.