Alastair ClementsSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Alastair Clements
We all like a bargain, don’t we? Whatever you’re buying, be it a new car or a 2-for-1 deal on a couple of tins of soup, it’s reassuring to know that you’ve got the best deal you could find.
In the car world, there are clear rules: for example, if you want a drop-top sports car, don’t try to buy when there are clear blue skies and the sun is warming your bare neck – the vendor knows he can hold out for the best price possible. Much better to wait until the winter, when he’s likely to be desperate to get rid of a leaky, chilly soft-top.
So when's the best time to peruse caravans for sale, to get a great deal? Well, many of us can’t help ourselves: we have to get the latest and greatest model, which is why the big caravan shows are so important for manufacturers and dealers as they shift the shiny new layouts.
But if you can hold your horses, accept that your trim might not be quite the same as the most recent model – plus, of course, find a layout that works for you – then you may just bag that all-important bargain, or perhaps bag yourself a higher-spec model than you thought.
This fact was brought into sharp focus last week, when I paid a visit to the Nottingham HQ of Lowdhams for a spot of filming for our TV show on The Caravan Channel. Taking a break between reviews, I wandered the lines of tourers in the firm’s ‘Spring into Summer’ campaign. It’s a final push to shift the remaining 2014 model year vans on the pitch, which means some huge savings, yet these are still brand-new vans.
We spotted £2000 off a Swift Challenger Sport 554 and 514, and the same amount taken off a Challenger SE 570 with a French bed and full-width end washroom, down to just £18,780. Even better was a van with the current layout of the moment, fixed twin beds and an end washroom: a new 2014 Challenger SE 565, slashed by £2500 to £18,930.
Good, but not good enough for me, so I carried on looking and found that there are used vans in the sale as well, with deals such as £500 off a 2008 Sterling Eccles Jewel, £1000 off a 2008 Europa 495 and, best of all, £1500 off a 2010 Swift Safari 535. At £9490, this looked like great value for a well-specified van, with a fixed double bed and a corner washroom.
Oddly, however, I found my eye caught by a van tucked away in a corner, one that wasn’t even in the sale. And at £5990, it was rather more within my journalist’s budget! The 2007 Adria Altea 502 DK seemed ideal for a family starting out in caravanning, with a hatchback-friendly 1200kg MTPLM and a five-berth layout featuring fixed bunks at the rear, a side dinette and a spacious front lounge.
Lowdhams’ sale runs until early May, but you don’t need to trek all the way to Nottingham to find affordable new and used caravans for sale: a quick internet search revealed that most of the major dealers are running similar spring promotions. So why not head down to your local lot to see if you can bag a bargain in time for the new season?