Andy Jenkinson

See other Advice articles filed in ‘Caravans for sale – buying guides’ written by Andy Jenkinson
   
Do affordable fixed-bed tourers get better than these? We check out two used caravans for sale at less than £9000 to see what they'll offer you

Mainstream manufacturers have largely dropped the nearside-fixed-bed layout from their current portfolios, but this floorplan continues to be popular on the used market.

And although such models sleep four people, they are mainly favoured by couples looking for a caravan that doesn’t involve daily bedmaking.

Over the years there have been plenty of variations on this layout, but the two we spotted at Broad Lane Leisure’s Coventry branch, the group’s original dealership, were identical. The devil will be in the detail.

We set our budget at £9000, knowing that for that sort of money we could get a decent, well-specified caravan.

Our first choice was a rather nice Abbey GTS 418 from 2008 – among the last of the Abbeys to be produced; the brand was dropped in early 2009.

Our second choice was from 2009, a Bailey Pageant Burgundy Series 7. It was the final year of production for the Pageant range, which was replaced by the Olympus.

The Bailey was 12 months younger than the Abbey, but both were well specified. Which of these used caravans for sale will be victorious? Let battle commence!

First contender: 2008 Abbey GTS 418

Aside from the twin-axle Spectrum, the GTS range was at the top of Swift Group’s line-up of Abbey caravans.

The 418’s smart-looking white body comprised GRP front and rear panels and tough aluminium one-piece sidewalls on an Al-Ko chassis, with an AKS hitch stabiliser, riding on alloy wheels. In addition to the large gas locker at the front are two external lockers on the nearside.

All of the main service points are fitted on the offside, plus there is an external mains socket, but no barbecue point. A spare wheel and two-piece entrance door complete the external features.

The interior offers a front lounge, side kitchen and dresser and rear bedroom with corner washroom. There is little in the way of excessive wear: it’s a tidy tourer.

Second contender: 2009 Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7

The Series 7 was the last of the Pageants. Moulded ABS panels make up the front and rear of the Burgundy’s body, while sidewalls are of the two-piece aluminium variety.

The Pageant is also built onto an Al-Ko chassis and comes with an AKS hitch stabiliser, plus Al-Ko’s ATC stability control system – a good feature for those who are perhaps a little nervous when towing.

Exterior locker access to the space under the fixed bed, a three-piece front window, a large front gas locker, a two-piece entrance door, an external mains socket, a spare wheel and alloy wheels all feature, although the alloys are not as classy-looking as those on the Abbey caravan.

The Bailey’s exterior was in good order, but had needed attention to give it some gloss and revive its showroom appeal.

Pitch and set-up

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 3.5 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4 stars
      

Both these used caravans are built on Al-Ko chassis with easily accessed standard corner steadies. Each has a hitch stabiliser, but the Bailey also benefits from an ATC trailer control system.

All services are banished to the offside, aside from the Bailey’s battery box and mains inlet.

Gas-locker storage is easily accessed in both vans, while grabhandles are set at a good, manageable height. Although not especially heavy, neither tourer had been retrofitted with a mover.

Both caravans are fitted with a Status 530 TV aerial and each has a glazed stable-door entrance. The mains control panel in the Abbey is set above the door and is more complex than the simple rocker-switch unit in the Bailey.

The seamless one-piece sidewalls and better care gave the Abbey the edge, looks-wise. But the Bailey’s ATC system puts it ahead in this round.

Lounge

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4 stars
      

The internal décor will be very much down to taste. The Abbey has a light wood interior with solid wood-framed locker doors, while the Bailey’s teak-finish cabinetwork lends its interior a warm, slightly retro 1970s look.

The Abbey sticks with tradition in its parallel seating flanking a central chest of drawers. The deeply upholstered sofas feature moulded corner cushions, ideal for relaxing.

The Bailey does away with the chest of drawers in favour of full wraparound seating in a bold cream-and-gold design, making the lounge look and feel more spacious.

Each has curtains, blinds and flyscreens to all the windows, and all of the windows open. Both tourers have mains sockets and blown-air heating outlets in this area.

The Abbey has an alarm sensor placed beside the chest of drawers. There is no alarm fitted in the Bailey.

Access to under-seat storage is via front flaps as well as by lifting the seating in the Abbey, while front access only applies to the space under the central seat in the used Bailey caravan.

Each van has 12-volt integrated corner lights and four spotlights; in addition, the Abbey has a smart central ceiling console with a light and clock.

Both have speakers for the standard-fit radio/CD players, which are each housed in an overhead locker rather than on display. It’s even-stevens for this round.

Kitchen

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4.5 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4 stars
      

There is little wanting in the way of kit in either of these kitchens.

The Abbey cooker has a separate oven and grill with a dual-fuel hob, while the Bailey’s has four gas burners. The Abbey uses a Thetford fridge; the Bailey favours a Dometic.

Both have Omnivent extractor fans and a good sink unit with clip-on drainers, and each has a microwave over their nearside dressers. That in the Abbey is fitted into a purpose-built unit, while the Bailey’s fits into locker space.

With additional surface offered by the dressers there’s no shortage of worktop in either tourer, although it’s better laid out in the Abbey. The dressers also house the Truma heaters.

Both kitchens are good, but the Abbey takes this round for its dual-fuel hob, better microwave and extra worktop.

Beds

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4.5 stars
      

Both fixed doubles in these used caravans looked in good condition, and each has corner shelves, spotlights and plenty of storage below, which can be accessed externally.

Both sets of lounge sofas can be used as two single beds or can be made up into doubles, by pulling out the slats from the centre chest in the case of the Abbey and the central seat for the Bailey, and rearranging the cushions.

The Bailey’s is larger, enough to accommodate a couple or maybe three small grandchildren.

Although it’s not a drastic difference, the centre chest compromises the bed size at the front of the Abbey, and it’s enough to lose this round to the Bailey.

Washroom

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 3.5 stars
      

The arrangement for the washrooms is the same in these vans and each is accessed by a domestic-style door.

Both have a Thetford swivel cassette toilet at the back, in front of that is the shower tray and moulded shower compartment. The two areas are separated by a transparent shower door.

There’s no room in the washroom for the hand basins – these are positioned within a vanity unit with cupboard in the bedroom area on the side of the wardrobe.

Adjacent to each is a small window. The Abbey has two mirrors here, where the Bailey has one. The Bailey has one glass and holder, the Abbey goes for two. The Abbey takes the advantage.

Storage

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4.5 stars
      

Larger and deeper roof lockers in the lounge and kitchen give the used Bailey caravan the edge here.

The Abbey fights back with that central chest of drawers and a fold-out coffee table, plus better access to its under-seat storage, and while its lockers aren’t as deep, it does have small shelves, which are useful for keys, phones and specs.

The Bailey’s dresser is slightly larger and also has more storage. However, the Abbey boasts a full-height wardrobe offering excellent hanging space – it’s larger than the Bailey’s.

Roof lockers are fitted over the fixed beds in both vans, but again those in the Bailey are deeper.

The fixed beds offer a major storage space for bulky items such as picnic chairs and both can be accessed via an exterior locker. It’s close, but the deeper roof lockers gain points for the Bailey in this round.

VERDICT

  • Abbey GTS 418 – 4 stars
  • Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7 – 4 stars
      

There’s very little in it and, with these two used caravans for sale priced the same, we reckon it will come down to the décor in the end.

The Pageant was a mid-range van in the Bailey line-up and as such is slightly less well specified than the Abbey.

The ‘Bailey Teak’ finish makes the interior feel darker, although the lounge opens up with its wraparound seating.

For those who want plenty of storage – and the reassurance of having ATC fitted – the Bailey makes a good choice.

The older Abbey caravan, with its paler interior, somehow looks the more contemporary of the two.

Its comfortable lounge with bolster cushions and better specification give it the edge, and it wins this contest.

Vital statistics: 2008 Abbey GTS 418

  • Price: £8995
  • Internal length: 5.51m
  • Overall length: 7.19m
  • Overall width: 2.29m
  • MiRO: 1290kg
  • Payload: 210kg
  • MTPLM: 1500kg
      

Kit list:

  • Al-Ko galvanised chassis
  • Alloy wheels
  • AKS hitch stabiliser
  • Spare wheel
  • Fridge
  • Dual-fuel hob
  • Separate oven and grill
  • Dual-fuel blown-air heating
  • Awning light
  • Alarm
  • Status TV aerial
  • Radio/CD
  • Microwave
      

Vital statistics: 2009 Bailey Pageant Burgundy S7

  • Price: £8995
  • Internal length: 5.61m
  • Overall length: 7.19m
  • Overall width: 2.29m
  • MiRO: 1225kg
  • Payload: 220kg
  • MTPLM: 1445kg
      

Kit list:

  • Al-Ko galvanised chassis
  • Alloy wheels
  • AKS and ATC trailer control system
  • Four-burner gas hob
  • Separate oven and grill
  • Fridge
  • Awning light
  • Glazed stable door
  • TV aerial
  • Microwave
  • Radio/CD
      

Always check a used caravan and its papers yourself before buying.

Share with friends

Follow us on

Most recent caravan reviews

The Practical Caravan 2017 Swift Challenger 635 review – 1 - The four-berth, twin-axle Swift Challenger 635 is priced at £21,470 (£23,060 as tested) (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Bailey Pegasus Genoa review – 1 - This 6.32m-long two-berth has an MTPLM of 1265kg, but can the baby in this range of Bailey caravans justify its price? (© Peter Baber/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan 2017 Coachman VIP 565 review – 1 - The VIP’s looks have stayed fairly constant since 2012, yet it remains a desirable luxury tourer – plus, the front gas locker door boasts double locks (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Caravelair Antarès 476 review – 1 - The Caravelair Antarès 476's quirky, one 'eye' looks hint at the unusual layout inside – it has an MTPLM of 1200kg (© Phil Russell/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Buccaneer Galera review – 1 - The silver sides are new and give the 2017-season Buccaneer caravans a distinctive, upmarket look (© Andy Jenkinson/Practical Caravan)
The Practical Caravan Hymer Nova GL 470 review – 1 - Its external styling is a little boxy and retro, but there's no getting away from the Hymer Nova GL 470's £27,690 price and 1700kg MTPLM (© Practical Caravan)