On this page you can read about our vans.
We aren't normally into naming our vehicles, but it does seem to be a bit of a Vanlife thing. Anyway, 'Frank' was a Frankia motorhome, and as is the way with motorhome manufacturers, the brand name was emblazoned prominently front, rear and sides of the van. Frank therefore seemed appropriate.
When we ordered our new van thoughts turned to a name for it. Continuing the alliterative theme, I said to Jo 'It needs to be another boy's name beginning with M.' She replied immediately, 'What about Marcel, after Grandpa?' Marcel was the name of my maternal Grandfather with a bit French heritage and a French name, and it then struck me that Frank was the name of my paternal Grandfather. Two of the nicest, most gentle men you could imagine, and so, with our undeniable affinity for Vanlife in France, it all fell into place.
'Marcel the Murvi' it is!!
Neither of this pair are Frank or Marcel !!
Frank is a Frankia i650SD A Class motorhome.
First registered in 2004, he became ours in April 2014.
We had recently moved house to Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, and during our frequent browsing on the internet at motorhomes, we stumbled across this one. We didn't really intend to buy at this point, but decided to go and have a look at it, as it was only in Alcester, not too far from our new home.
The layout was exactly what we had decided that we wanted (very similar to a Hymer B544) with a drop down bed over the front seat, two long settees either side of a large table, a good kitchen and a large bathroom with a separate shower cubicle, alongside a large wardrobe. It had a double skin floor so there was an enormous amount of storage space, and with a GVW of 4000 kg, no problems with payload. The base vehicle was the trusty Fiat Ducato 2.8JTD, with a manual gearbox.
We had looked inside a few vans - mostly Hymers - all about the same age as this one, or a bit older, and when stepping inside Frank we were immediately struck by how clean it was inside, very solidly built, and definitely didn't have the feel (or smell!) of a ten year old van. With only 46.000 miles on the clock it seemed like a good buy. A test drive later we were smitten, and so we went home to have a think (it was still an enormous amount of money for us to part with!). We decided that it was too good to pass on, and so the next day we called the sellers, made an acceptable offer to them, and agreed a deal.
Never having owned a van before, this was a terrifying prospect, but the sellers included absolutely everything we would need to get going on a first trip apart from food and clothes, and so this was the start of what would be a five year partnership with Frank. A partnership that really did change our lives!
Read our Blog to discover all about our travels and adventures in Frank.
Marcel is the evolution of our Vanlife!
Whilst we were on the road in New Zealand and Australia in rental vans (Mercedes Sprinter Panel Van Conversions), one of the things we talked about was the convenience of a smaller van, enabling us to get to places we couldn't even think about in Frank. So we went to look at a few and thought about what might suit us for the future and possible long term travelling.
The following factors were all taken into consideration :-
We made the decisions, sold Frank in August 2019 and placed an order for a new Murvi Morocco XL panel van conversion. So are we moving from 'motorhome' to 'campervan'? Opinion is divided as to what constitutes either one or the other - but as Marcel (for that's his name!) will be built within the confines and shape of the base van it does feel more 'campervan'!
We ordered an extra long wheelbase Fiat Ducato base van, with a manual gearbox and a Euro 6D Temp 140HP engine on which Murvi of Ivybridge, Devon, will build the conversion, We also decided on a white van - for a number of reasons. Most Murvis we have seen have been a pale metallic blue, silver or gold, so ours - in white - will be a little different. We think that with the black trim it looks pretty smart, and the lead time for a metallic painted van was ridiculous. We could have had it painted any colour we liked, but at a cost, and so white it is. We think it perhaps looks a bit more discreet than some campervans, which will suit our style of camping on small sites, Aires, Pub Stops and a bit of wild/freedom camping.
The GVW is uprated to 4250KG so that we have no payload issues and despite the already fantastic specification we have selected a number of options that we want in our van including a 175W solar panel, an inverter and additional 230v sockets, a roof mounted MiFi aerial and built in mobile Wifi router, reversing camera and SatNav, awning, fly-screen on the sliding door, an additional fresh water tank and an enlarged fuel tank. For security systems we have decided to go to a company called Vanbitz and have their Strikeback Growler alarm fitted . For the bike carrier we have plumped for a Memo Vanstar swing away rack fitted by a company called LNB Leisure in Bristol. This isn't the cheapest option, but we didn't want anything fitted to the rear doors (this is specifically not recommended by Fiat, and potentially would invalidate any warranty in respect of the doors) and the Vanstar, being fitted directly to the chassis, can carry 60kg and so is suitable for electric bikes if necessary in the future, whilst allowing both rear doors to be opened completely without unloading the bikes. (see below for a full detailed specification)
Read our Blog to discover all about our travels and adventures in Marcel.
MURVI Morocco XL Campervan - based on the 2020 MY Fiat Ducato Maxi XL 35 LWB High Roof van with 2.3L 140 Multijet II Euro 6D TD, 6-speed gearbox.
ABS, ESC, ASR, EBA, Hill hold, PAS, sliding side door, and full height hinged rear doors. Drivers and passengers airbags, Remote central locking and electric windows, Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, Electronic engine immobiliser, Adjustable steering column, Adjustable lumbar support for both front seats, Height adjustment for both front seats, Fiat wheel trims and side protection strips, Tinted windows and high level brake light, Deadlocks, Full size spare wheel, Radio with SWC/BT/USB/Aux input. Day running lights, EcoPack (Start/Stop).
Fiat steel high roof with 1.91m of headroom.
Exterior dimensions : Overall length 6.363m, Overall height 2.565m,Overall width 2.050m
Payload 400Kgs (on GVW of 3500kg)
Large settee quickly and easily converts into two large single beds one 1.93m x 0.84m and the other 1.85m x 0.68m with room to move between the beds to allow access to the front swivel seats or to the kitchen and bathroom. Alternatively the same beds will also form a generous size double bed 1.93m x 1.52m (max.)
Large capacity storage under the settee.
Two LED downlighters for cab seats and two LED downlighters over the sliding side door. Two adjustable LED bedhead reading lights and one at rear of lounge. Three LED Strip lights with dual level output for background lighting.
Additional rear speakers.
Wide electric step at the side loading door with buzzer.
All seating is covered with a high quality fabric of choice with two matching pillow size cushions and two scatter cushions.
Vinyl flooring, work tops and door finishes of choice.
Large locking strongbox beneath passenger seat.
Three Seitz S4 top hinged windows and one sliding window.. All windows are double glazed with cassette blinds and flyscreens. Interior insulated covers for cab area.
Heki 3 roof light with cassette roller blind and flyscreen.
High level angled storage lockers with lights on the right hand side. Over- cab storage. Large hanging wardrobe with light.
Two tables are provided; one free standing table and a smaller cantilever leg for use in the cab when the seats are swivelled.
Dometic RM8401 - 3-way, 90L fridge, with freezer compartment.
Three burner hob and integrated flush lid with storage drawer.
Combined sink and drainer fed with hot & cold water pumped from a 16 gallon inboard tank. High and and low level cupboards housing a four place crockery set, four glasses, slide-out tray with cutlery and chopping board. Waste bag holder.
One LED Strip light and two spotlights over the worktop. Further LED Strip light over the hob and cooker. 12V ventilator fan with flyscreen.
Three double glazed windows with cassette blind and flyscreens.
Generous size fixed GRP washbasin with combined mixer tap with pull out shower head. Storage cupboard under the washbasin and eye level lockers.
Dometic CT 4050 Ceramic bowl cassette toilet with electric flushing. The cassette has an extending handle & wheels.
Hot air outlet.
Roof vent with integral blind and flyscreen.
Large mirror, shower curtain, toilet roll holder & soap dispenser, towel ring, toothbrush and mug holder and two coat hooks.
LED Strip light with dual level output for background lighting.
Robust GRP shower tray.
10 Kg (25 litre) LPG underfloor gas tank with level indicator.
Diesel and mains powered Webasto Thermo Top Evo heater, 7Kw combined space and water heating system. The heating can be used whilst driving. Variable burner technology allows stepless power output for stable temperature management with low noise and 12v power consumption. Rapid heat up of hot water with high capacity thermostatically controlled hot water. Two heater outlets in the lounge area and one in the kitchen.
Fully winterised for all the year round camping. Walls and ceiling are insulated with a 50mm thick layer of Knauf multi-layered insulation. Insulated floor. Semi rigid & insulated plumbing. Mains hook-up with a 25 metre cable with UK & Continental adaptors, heavy duty waterproof storage bag for cables etc.
Four 230v sockets, two 12v sockets & one double USB point. 12 volt control system: • Victron BMV700 energy manager. Allows charging of vehicle battery when auxiliary batteries are being charged from mains or solar panel (if fitted). Victron Blue Power 30A switch-mode battery charger. Two Haze 105AH Gel leisure auxiliary batteries.
Accurate fresh and waste water level indicators, 10 gallon waste tank. 16 gallon inboard fresh water tank.
A comprehensive Safety Pack comprising carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, fire extinguisher, fire blanket, first aid kit, warning triangle & vehicle spare bulb kit.
Externally accessed "floor to ceiling" storage area, accessed through the drivers side rear door with adjustable shelving and two lights. Storage area dimensions: 900mm (W) x 440mm (D) x 1720mm (H)
Fiat Base Vehicle Options
Wheel arch mouldings.
GVW increase to 4,250Kgs
Traction+ with Hill Descent Control (inc Mud and Snow tyres)
Dashboard air conditioning
Speed limiter + Cruise control
90L Fuel tank
Front & rear mudflaps
Avtex Tourer One 7" Sat-Nav
Avtex BC30 Wireless reversing camera for Avtex Sat-Nav
170W solar panel, roof mounted
MiFi 4G Roof Antenna with WiFi mobile Router
Fiamma 4.0 M retractable side awning
External LED light over sliding side door
350 watt inverter built in - with two 230v sockets
Maxxfan Deluxe with T/stat & auto open
Additional underfloor 10 gallon fresh water tank
Remis cab blinds
Flyscreen for the sliding side door
Continental adaptors for LPG filler
Other aftermarket additions
Vanbitz security installation
Memo Vanstar swing away bike rack
Roof bars and roof mounted luggage box