Summer is now approaching quick. Maybe you haven’t yet planned this year’s summer holiday? But you know you want to do something different this time. Obviously something with your family. But maybe something a bit more back-to-basics. And preferably including a classic car experience too. Well, here’s the answer to all that you seek…
How better to promote a bit of undiluted quality family time than by embarking on travelling both to and from this year’s summer holiday destination by classic car? Then take it up a notch by giving the mandatory all-inclusive hotel with built in separate kid’s activities a miss this time. There are of course a variety of ways of executing that, all of which admittedly include an element of compromise. But with that compromise comes adventure and new experiences. However, for me and many others, the one where you strap a tent to the boot rack of your Mustang convertible is taking it just one compromise too far. When I was younger and expected less of life – sure! But at my age, I find there a few things more soul-destroying than a rain-drenched sleeping bag. So much rather bring on the caravans and campervans of yesteryear.
Just because I personally find that towing a trailer somewhat ruins the driver satisfaction which I normally bath myself in while behind the wheel of any car of a certain vintage, let’s focus on the campers – or motorised caravans as they were first dubbed. Even having narrowed down our options that far, there’s still plenty of choice. Both in terms of the vans upon which they are based and not least in terms of which company built the camper conversion. But any van – big or small – will do, and there were plenty of companies building professional conversions, such as Westfalia in Germany and Dormobile in the UK.
While Westfalia put themselves on the map in the early fifties by converting VW buses, Dormobile weren’t far behind with converting the British Bedford CA built by Vauxhall. This led to them introducing the patented Dormobile roof in 1957, comprising an elevating roof hinged on one side and the signature striped canopy. Soon enough, Dormobile were converting all sorts of vans right from small saloon car based vans like the Bedford HA and Morris Marina to proper full-sized vans such as the Austin J4 and Ford Transit. You could even have your Land Rover kitted out with a Dormobile conversion for those gruelling off-road expeditions.
It’s precisely such a period Dormobile conversion which has charmed us into choosing it as this week’s Prime Find. UK Essex-based car dealer St. Andrews Autos has a 1970 Ford Escort Mk1 Dormobile for sale among its stock. Based on the Ford 8 cwt de luxe van, Dormobile called it their Elba model. Besides having the fabulous Dormobile roof, it came equipped with a seating area in the back which could be converted into a double bed. With the roof fully erected, there was either a second sleeping area within the roof structure or sufficient headroom to move about in the camper while working at the small kitchen which had both a sink and a gas stove. With the basic 1.1-litre Kent engine out front, the little Ford won’t get you anywhere in a rush, but instead you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenic view while de-stressing with your family. Here are a few pictures of the Dormobile Elba which we’ve borrowed from the advert:
The Ford seems to present highly original and unmolested – both on the outside but equally on the inside with all the factory Dormobile features intact. The dealer explains that having received a bare-metal respray some years ago, the Escort still presents well and is in good condition throughout with a claimed genuine mileage of only 41,000 miles. With a recent MOT without any advisories, the Dormobile Elba is up for sale at £ 9,995 currently equating to Euro 11,650. Here’s a link to the advert which the dealer has placed on eBay: 1970 Ford Escort Dormobile Elba
How’s that for sorting your summer holiday plans with one simple swoop? Bring on those adventures. And should any of our readers decide to purchase this classic little camper, please do make sure that you keep us all updated with regular reports from your summer travels…
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org