Global Campers Début
How did a hand-built little coachbuilt from Wigan come to have its sole outlet in the Cambridgeshire Fens? Peter Sharpe takes a look at the Global Campers Début, exclusive to Wellsbridge Motorhomes.
Global Campers is a small motorhome conversion business based in Wigan, right at the hub of the North West's heaviest concentration of leisure industry manufacturers and dealers. It is owned by Daniel Prescott, whose father, Trevor, was one of the original partners in Nu Venture. His uncle, Kevin, was the founder of the now-defunct Nu Venture Campers, an entirely separate company from Nu Venture Motorhomes, which is now based less than four miles away.
With such fierce local competition, it takes initiative and invention for a small company to get its products noticed. An initial approach was made to a well-known motorhome retailer, but here again, the Début found itself overshadowed by the highly promoted vehicles from the major manufacturers. Another local dealer suggested Wellsbridge as a possible outlet, recommending them both for their professionalism and their unusually wide catchment area.
Meet the makers
Global Campers has been operating for nearly seven years, although owner Daniel Prescott has been in the industry for nearly seventeen. They had been producing mainly bespoke designs, but as an experiment, they developed and manufacturing the Début exclusively for Wellsbridge Motorhomes.
Daniel knows that Harry and Lance at Wellsbridge would love to shorten the gap between deliveries, but Dan readily admits that their success in selling so many came as a bit of a surprise. Being a small team means that every motorhome produced has that hand-built quality that is only arrived at when the workforce being personally involved at every stage. Since then they have moved up a gear and have now added a new iGon campervan, based on the Hyundai iLoad.
The Début is based on a Citroen Berlingo chassis cab, which is now a firm favourite of anyone building a motorhome in this class. With any conversion of this size, there are only a limited number of layout permutations possible, especially as the Berlingo chassis cab virtually rules out direct access from cab to lounge. Dan designed both the body shell shape and the interior layout himself and it is entirely manufactured in Global's small factory.
Dan prefers to work with aluminium, as it is better suited to small scale production and enables the designer to retain complete control. When using fibreglass, the sketches have to be sent off to fibreglass moulding specialists, who then put their own interpretation on a design, which can then be difficult to change. There is another advantage, in that the resulting payload is greater than when vehicles are constructed using fibreglass - something very important in a vehicle of this size.
High rise living
The heading is actually a misnomer, as the feeling of being perched on a mezzanine floor is almost entirely due to the lowly position of the cab. Nevertheless, there is something strangely satisfying about being able to sit in the lounge, looking down at the front seats. There is no electric step provided, but a lightweight portable one gets you in with a minimum of fuss.
There are only two layouts that could be used in a living area of this size, the alternative one with a side kitchen requiring the use of a rear door. The Début has its entrance on the rear of the nearside, my preferred solution, as it allows the use of a drive-away awning.
Small it may be, but this coachbuilt habitation area gives you an immediate advantage over any of the the traditional campervan designs - namely, effective bulk storage. That prominent over-cab bulge comes into its own here, providing a home for all that bulky bedding that has to be literally crammed under the seats in other designs. There is also room for two suitcases here, which makes them easier to access than having to drag them out from behind a rock and roll bed.
The wardrobe provides a convenient home for the folding table, but really offers only a token amount of storage - probably best used for dressing gowns, or similar.
The small lounge is actually a very cosy and pleasant place in which to relax. I'd buy a couple of extra large cushions to place against the cab seats, providing a great position in which to lean back with headphones on, or snuggle up with a book. All lighting is provided by LEDs, so power consumption is minimal. I would have liked to have seen a power socket and an aerial connection on the cupboard beside the door, as this would be an ideal TV point, also giving you the option of plugging in a standard bedside lamp, whenever a hook-up is available.
Tea for two
At mealtimes, you will need to erect the folding table, which will always be a bit of a pain in a lounge of this size. It's a problem that affects all of the similar motorhomes and there's not really a lot you can do about it. I don't think a pedestal table would be appropriate here and at least you can take this one outside. Perhaps you could resort to lap trays if you were feeling lazy.
The kitchen area has been very well planned to make the most efficient use of its limited area. This type of all-in-one hob and sink unit has been favoured by continental manufacturers for years, the idea being the hob section also becomes your drainer (with a bit of imagination). What is achieves, is to leave you with a very useful section of worktop, on which you could place a removable drainer if you preferred. You also get a domestic-style microwave oven and a small absorption refrigerator.
This type isn't anywhere near as space-efficient as an equivalent-sized compressor fridge, so I wonder why they always seem to include an ice box. Do people really use these, especially ones of this size? Personally, I would much rather have room for standard food items. It is worth mentioning that the microwave is of the type that contains a grill. This is not to be recommended in a DIY installation, but the housing in the Début contains all the clearances and extra ventilation to make this entirely safe.
At the nearside corner, you will find 230v and 12v mains outlets and even a USB charging point. Whilst welcoming these as being present, I couldn't help feeling that it might have been more flexible to situate these at the storage unit beside the door - or even have mains sockets in both places.
The little room in the corner
Sensibly, I thought, there has been no attempt made to put in one of the "pretend" shower rooms that are often built in but never used. Instead, you get a far more feet-friendly floor on which you could even put a nice fluffy mat if you wished. There will be no complaints from me about the tip-up basin over the Thetford electric-flush toilet, as nobody has really come up with anything better for these situations. There's a towel rail, and a toilet roll holder, but I thought the storage could have been improved upon.
It's not often that you would complain a deep lip on a locker, to prevent items falling out, but this one is quite high up and the lip do deep, that you might have to find smaller items by feeling around inside. You can temporarily perch a toothbrush, soap and razor on the little holders built into the sink unit, but it was crying out for something such as a simple little wall rack, where you might place a damp flannel, or even temporarily park your watch or spectacles.
At the end of the day ...
The standard sleeping arrangement in the Début is a lateral double bed, but if you require the possibility of single beds, you can order extensions that allow them to protrude into the cab, with the front seats folded forwards.
To create the bed could hardly be easier, as you simply slide out the sprung-slatted extension from under the seat of the off-side settee and engage the leading lip within the slot on the off-side. My only reservation is that it might be wise to retrieve your bedding before you do this, as although the slats make a comfortable base for the cushions, they might not take too kindly to you walking over them.
The bed is exactly six feet long, from side of the van to the other. So not ideal if you're above average height, but par for the course in a campervan or panel van conversion of a similar size - you can't really expect more from a coachbuilt body that has to sit on a Berlingo.
The fact that Wellsbridge is selling these almost as soon as they arrive, makes it plainly obvious that Global has a successful formula. There is scope for minor improvements, but this is where you have to be careful to decide where to draw the line. The country is awash with small motorhomes competing at the top end of the market, so part of the attraction is the ability to keep the Début into its all-important, sub-£30,000 niche. In fact Global Campers has itself produced some very high-end van conversions in the past, but to find such a steady demand is obviously reassuring for any small converter in this economic climate.
Wellsbridge would love
to receive more frequent deliveries, but with one of the country's largest
stocks of used motorhomes for visitors to view, the Début is just
another welcome string to their bow.
Global Campers UK
Wellsbridge Motorhome Sales
Originally published in Motorhome & Campervan