Following the Channel 5 television programme "Fifth Gear" there may be some interest in an alternative to the normal MPV. Here is some more information about the vehicle featured in the programme. I have subsequently been given the full history of our vehicle by the Ride the Royal Mail Post Bus society.
We have 3 children and needed a bigger car. Holidays and major outings meant pulling a trailer and / or fitting a roof box and if the children invited a friend it meant two cars. We wanted one vehicle which we could all fit into AND have room for friends AND a heap of stuff; for example on a trip to the beach (beach = lots of extras: picnic, change of clothes, chairs, wind break, toys, buckets & spades, pushchair, baby changing bag, etc, etc. We were in the market for an MPV but when you look there is a problem ... with the 7 seats occupied there is NO ROOM for any luggage.
Bought at auction an ex post office "Post Bus" (Postman Pat type as my son will tell you). Actually it's an LDV Pilot (R plate), built from new as an 11 seater minibus. I have taken one of the rear most seats out (4 bolts) for extra luggage capacity, making it a 10 seater. We don't actually need that many sets but it does mean the children can have all of their "stuff" beside them and they have room not to get in each others way. Even with the two rear seats in place we can still fits bikes in the back without resorting to removing wheels.
So in the end it costs no more than a standard family car.
The 1.9l diesel means, in car terms, the vehicle is underpowered. This is true if you really must be the first away at the lights, but wait, remember those children in the back, we are going to the beach not the race track so does it matter?
Handling is adequate. The suspension on our bus is very basic and it will not match a modern car (but I have been in worse). The usual rear-wheel-drive technique of applying a little extra throttle keeps it level and precise. Power steering makes the whole thing easily manageable and my wife has no problems.
Don't try to get vehicle insurance from a telesales operator, the vehicle is probably not on their computer which means trouble. The AA, Churchill, Direct Line, Swinton, Norwich Union, and Tesco all failed miserably with either "we don't insure that type of vehicle" or "try our other office" (who either don't exist, don't answer or pass you back to the first). If you push hard they will come up with a policy but it will be grossly overpriced, they don't want our business, so...
Try a specialist. We used "The Insurance Line" who offered insurance at a tad more than an average family car and we have AA recovery (for all the people we can carry!) as part of the deal.
The vehicle is not pretty
Some people will not be able to live with the van origins, but that is a state of mind and I can't help you.
This is a very cost effective solution and really is the ultimate multi-purpose vehicle.
I giggle at the MPVs on the road with alloy wheels and metallic paint because the compromises made to them mean they are neither "flash" cars nor genuine "multi-purpose vehicles". Go on, accept that an MPV has no street cred (if that is important to you), then buy a minibus and get the job done properly. The money you saved could go towards that "flash" car for the times you can really enjoy it.
I am indebted to Robin Farmer of the Ride the Royal Mail Post Bus society who has provided a detailed history of our vehicle.
|17 September, 1997||LDV Pilot 6750002 allocated to Royal Mail Anglia from new.|
|20 October, 1997||Commenced at Dereham on services to Hingham and Welbourne.|
|About January, 1998||Moved to Saffron Walden for the Littlebury service.
As this a very short route it was also used to carry bulk mail and for parcels delivery in the town.
|February, 2000||The two services at Saffron Walden were merged, 6750002 remained in use as a van and reserve.|
|June, 2000||Boston for use as driver training vehicle.|
|14 August, 2000||Took up the Boston - Kirton Marsh service. The tenure here was short as it was replaced by larger vehicle.|
|June, 2001||Held at Peterborough workshop before being withdrawn.|
|27 September, 2001||Purchased at East Anglian Motor Auctions (Norwich) Ltd -
Coincidentally returned to Dereham, where it commenced service as a post bus and we now use the vehicle for family transport.