Yes, when did it really start? Hardly anyone can answer this question in retrospect ... Already ten years ago, we briefly played with the idea and since then at least our first motorhome, a van, symbolically stood as a model at Conny's shelf. This seemed to finish the topic.
The idea of a van matures ...
Almost thirty trips to Norway and some life experiences later, the idea was back. It was probably the ad of the RV provider "Hobby" in a Scandinavia magazine, which triggered our thoughts:
PRO: Freedom and independence - especially in Scandinavia and also take longer road trips .... Maybe finally explore Scotland, Iceland and other countries on this way? Maybe tour Europe for a long time?
CONTRA: German mobile home tourists are not consistently popular in Norway (we knew of our Norwegian friends). Driving the narrow streets there with such a big camper? What's to happen in winter when we're up north?
No matter - let's take a look at the whole thing. So in September 2016 we started the first research and visited a local dealer of the brand "Hobby". We were immediately impressed by a van on Fiat Ducato basis. He offered an attractive appearance, good solutions in the interior and from our point of view also a good price / performance ratio.
After looking at other vehicles we were at least already clear - it will probably be "a kind of van". However, we had rather more questions than before our visit (which was not only the seller): What is the right vehicle length for us? How are the many providers different in the segment? What is the right base vehicle? How do we handle this in winter?
The agony of choice
Unfortunately, the annual large caravan fair in Dusseldorf (always in late August / early September) is already over. This is a good way to get a complete overview. We compensate that by countless dealer visits and countless hours on the Internet. There we read in forums, Facebook groups, on caravan sites, reviews, blogs and of course on the manufacturer's pages. Then it went again to the next dealer to test the learned dangerous half-knowledge.
In any case, we have learned a lot and knew week by week increasingly what we at least do not want. We also realized what will be important to us and what we need:
- In any case, a van, so as not to be restricted and restricted by the size of the vehicle. Ideally, the base vehicle should not be so long (tolls and ferry fees are extremely expensive for lengths over 6 meters) and have a small turning radius.
- With our plans and visions, partly also Offroad (Iceland), in the winter as well as in the far north to be on the way, we will need an all-wheel drive.
- We will have to look for a provider who is also willing to meet individual needs.
Due to the all-wheel issue, we also land quickly with a Mercedes Sprinter as the base vehicle. Although there are many other basic vehicles, such as the Fiat Ducato, the possibility to retrofit this 4 x 4 option. However, we attach importance in this regard to an uncompromising equipment directly from the factory.
But who builds the Mercedes-Sprinter as motorhome offers which options? In addition to many small, not mentioned factories, we are fast with two major providers: La Strada with the Regent S and Hymer with the Grand Canyon S. On to the Hymer dealer near Berlin ....
There we have to recognize that there is a manageable offer in the segment of all-wheel-drive vans. Freely available vehicles are scarce in Germany due to the boom in this segment and waiting periods of one year are not uncommon.
The seller is very nice and goes out of his way after work. We discuss possible equipment variants and inspect the interior of an existing Hymer Mercedes Sprinter very precisely. Basically, he would already agree with us and why should we search even longer?
There are only a few details that we do not quite like, such as the open solution of the rear garage in the interior, the lack of covering the rear doors to the bed, the missing wardrobe and some solutions in the interior, which in our view the place is not always optimal and clever use. We want to think about it and still see if there is an alternative for us.
The search continues
At the same time, we are constantly tracking mobile.de for what offers are available and how the market is also developing at a price. There we see with our search filter (Mercedes, vans, all-wheel) again and again offers from CS motorhomes. The products and the quality are very positively discussed in professional circles and many tests.
However, there are hardly any dealers and on the homepage , the vehicles are presented rather sober and less appealing. A trip to Dusseldorf can then be combined with a short visit to the CS motorhome dealer SYRO motorhomes in Dortmund / Unna. This fits perfectly, because he is not only a contract partner of CS Reisemobilen, but also of La Strada. So we will have the overall view after the visit there.
The owner takes a lot of time for us and answers well all questions from us. We immediately feel well, look at different vehicles and then it is obvious: We fell in love, even in direct comparison to a La Strada "Regent S", straight away in the "Independent" of CS motorhomes. Everything is just right for us: processing, clever room solutions, many pragmatic approaches to using the space and much more. However, we do not want to decide this enormous investment immediately and under this emotional impression. So we take catalogs, price lists and a lot of good advice as well as the note that here too the waiting time extends to at least the fall.
The "Independent" of CS Reisemobile - that should be it
This is followed by the latest research, a registration in the Internet forum Camper Board (where many owners of CS vehicles are) and the constant check at mobile.de , whether there is an offer in any form as a fair offer, demonstration vehicle or the like. We are only more confirmed in our reflections. Soon it is clear: We buy the Independent of CS motorhomes !!
On the homepage of the manufacturer, who also actively sells at the production site, we find a demonstration vehicle. Well then ... We drive to Henstedt-Ulzburg to CS and come one day too late: The demonstration model is just allowed ... Only a look inside the vehicle is still possible.
During our visit to the company headquarters we get to know the junior boss, Philipp Oltmanns personally. He takes a lot of time for our outstanding questions and we feel really well cared for. However, he can not help us with a vehicle available at short notice and confirms the long waiting times that we already know from Dortmund / Unna. We have another coffee together and think about what to do when Mr. Oltmanns suddenly has an idea. He agrees briefly with the senior manager and then explains to us that we can get a vehicle planned for the caravan fair in the summer if we decide at short notice. Bingo !!
After a week, everything is fixed and we make short-term and with a little time pressure to the configuration of the base vehicle. The Sprinter is already in the order books at Mercedes and must be produced according to our specifications soon to keep the schedule.
In the next blog post we report on the configuration, why we have decided on which equipment and how our "Independent" was finally produced (with pictures from the expansion process).