A great van for newcomers or seasoned motorhomers alike…
by Malcolm Street
The manufacturer Getaway was a small business based on the Central Coast of NSW. They built a reasonably good motorhome, but were probably another casualty of the Global Financial Crisis. That said, there are a number of their motorhomes on the road, including this Avoca van conversion, which caught my eye while cruising the used motorhomes at Australian Motor Homes in late January.
The Iveco Daily 35S14 is the base vehicle for the Avoca. Iveco, one of the largest truck manufacturers in Europe, is from Italy and related by marriage to Fiat (think Ducato). The main difference being that whilst Ducatos are front-wheel drive Ivecos are rear-wheel drive. Powered by a 2.3-litre turbo-diesel the Daily 35S14 came with a 6 speed automated manual transmission (AMT). Given that the Daily has a GVM of 3510 kg and this Avoca weighed in with a tare weight of 3200kg, care would be needed when loading.
Two driver's cab modifications are the centre-dash mounted rear-view camera and a non-standard and better radio/CD player, which includes a 3.5 mm auxiliary input socket. Getaway's external conversion bits include the Seitz hopper windows, Fiamma awning, Winegard roof top aerial and gas cylinder bin. Interestingly, there isn’t that other usual feature, a Thetford toilet cassette door – it’s inside the motorhome!
Generally speaking the external bodywork of this Avoca is in good condition, with just a few scratches and bumps. The external plastic mouldings showed a bit of sun damage but I suspect a coat of Armor All or similar would fix that. The Fiamma awning needed a bit of persuasion when starting the roll out, but other than that it opened and closed quite easily. A look at the tyres revealed them all to have a good tread life, which given the low kilometres wasn't a surprise.
On the Road
If there is one thing about a van conversion, compared to a wider motorhome, it’s that driving it is no drama. On the highway it cruises very nicely, but the asset around town is it fits into quite a few parking spaces without too much trouble. Controls are convenient, including the dash mounted gear shift, but the hand brake is on the driver’s left, making the driver swivel seat a slight problem. The Daily’s safety features include good external mirrors, ABS disc brakes, electronic stability programme (ESP) and a driver’s air bag. Like many commercial vehicles a passenger air bag was an option.
Getaway retained the sliding door for its conversion. Some we know do not like “whirr clunkers,” especially in the middle of the night, but I don’t mind them, especially in hot weather. A switch by the door operates the slide-out electric step.
I don't know if this was an owner or a dealer addition, but both van doors have been fitted with insect screens – definitely a bonus. Both used magnetic strips to hold the screen "doors" closed and the side door screen used a sail track so the door could be left open if needed. It was a bit fiddly and I have seen better designs, but be in no doubt that it worked and was considerably better than nothing at all.
This Avoca came with a single-bed floor plan, i.e. two sideways facing lounges in the rear that could be converted to a double bed if required. However, the maximum length in both cases is 1.83 m (6 ft).
The rest of the Avoca is filled with a kitchen bench along the nearside (partly into the doorway) and a bathroom behind the driver’s seat on the other side. The space between the bathroom and rear lounge is occupied by cupboard and fridge. All the cabinet work is Beech laminated joinery.In the driver's cab, the passenger seat swivels around, to add a bit more living area space.
Although one of the advantages of a van conversion is its external size, inside is the opposite effect, with it naturally being narrower than a coachbuilt motorhome. In some motorhomes I have seen there is a distinct feeling of being closed in, but not so with this Avoca. Whilst the bathroom area does dominate the front section, the rest feels quite open. A slight minus in the cab area is that instead of having curtains around the inside of the driver's cab, there's one across the back, making it a bit awkward to use the swivelled passenger seat at night.
Still in the cab, some manufacturers leave the top of the cab area empty for easy access to and from the front seats. To make the most of general storage, however, Getaway opted to put a small locker in, which just means stooping a bit when getting in and out of the cab.
As a general comment on the condition of the interior, I'd have to say it's very good. There were a few scratches and marks from general wear, but not many. One issue that would need attention was the plastic struts used on the overhead locker doors. I've always wondered about the longevity of these items, compared to metal ones and I'd have to say that if this example is any guide, it's not good. Don't be put off though by something like this. Upgrading the struts would be an easy job for anyone with only basic handyman skills – just like retro fitting LED globes which has also been done in part in this motorhome.
In the rear, the two side lounges measure 1.83 m x 0.64 m (6 ft x 2 ft 1 in) and are designed, of course, to be quickly converted into single beds. Fitted to the offside lounge is a Lagun single-arm swivelling table, which can be swivelled every which-way or removed when not needed.
Mounted on the side of the fridge cabinet is a flat screen TV, 240 V power point and TV antenna connection.
Lighting in the lounge/bed area is from ceiling downlights and two reading lights; one on either side under the overhead lockers. Although the original installation was for halogen lamps most in the rear have been converted to LEDs. One of the downlight fittings showed a little bit of heat damage, presumably from the halogen globes.
Above both seats is a row of lockers, although one section along the offside is occupied by the electrical control panel. It’s nice to see everything in the one area – 240 V circuit breakers, water tank gauges, 12 V switches, hot water switches and battery voltmeter.
Under-seat storage is also available, but much of the offside is taken by the water heater, batteries, battery charger and, surprisingly for this size motorhome, a 1000 W inverter. On the opposite side the gas cylinder bin takes up much of the under-seat space. There are access doors at the ends of the seat storage, but there isn’t a great deal of space for external items like power cords, hose reels or wheel chocks.
Time to Eat
Compact might be a good word to use for the galley, but it is equipped with most of the standard items – a Spinflo four-burner cooktop and grill; Dometic rangehood and a stainless steel sink with detachable drainer. Drawer space is quite generous, with five of variable sizes, along with a cupboard and two overhead lockers.
In the original layout the sink butted up against the bed, which was an issue. However, either the original design changed or an owner added a hinged bench extension. On the opposite side are those other two kitchen essentials: a 150-litre compressor fridge and LG microwave. Given the setup, the latter item is set quite high for shorter people.Next to the fridge is a large full-height cupboard, with shelves, wire baskets and clothing hangers, which could have a variety of uses.
Although not everyone likes them, one of the advantages of single beds with a design like this is that the can be left made up. if a double bed is needed, it can be set up with a bit of a fiddle with the table and seat cushions. It measures 1.83 m x 1.73 m (6 ft x 5 ft 8 in) when everything is in position.
Bathrooms are tricky little items in van sized conversions and I sometimes marvel at the way manufacturers get them in. This Avoca has all the standard features, like a variable height shower, wash basin with separate tap and the ubiquitous Thetford cassette toilet. I noted earlier that the toilet cassette is accessed from the inside, not outside. It might be an awkward arrangement in some motorhome designs, but given this one is opposite the sliding door it isn’t too bad.
What I Think
Although the Getaway Avoca is not your typical B/C class motorhome, what drew my attention to it is its suitability for first time motorhomers who perhaps are not comfortable with, or just don’t want, a larger vehicle. Both its general condition and low distance travelled (41,286 km) suggests a rig not greatly used, given it was built around 2008.
I have to confess I am a bit of a fan of large van conversions. Unlike many of our readers, who are wafting around the country, I still have to earn an income based in a big city. Therefore something the size of the Avoca is good for me – a comfortable size to live in and with all the essential features, yet not difficult to navigate around city streets. It’s also quite a well appointed motorhome in generally good condition and offers a couple of options in the sleeping department, which should keep most people happy.
Although the original manufacturer is out of business, most of the items fitted are commonly used and still readily available, including parts for the Iveco Daily van itself. An advantage of the van conversion is that no specially made motorhome body panel mouldings are used. Price wise, this particularly motorhome was more expensive than some of its contemporaries, but the low usage and very good condition are the reasons for that.
- Excellent condition for a used motorhome
- Getaway’s general cabinetry work
- Generous supply of kitchen drawers
- Electrical controls located in one area
- Good solar panel and battery capacities
- Both side and rear doors insect screened
- Bed length for taller people
- Door struts need replacing
- No fans or air conditioner fitted
- No provision for second gas cylinder
31 Bennetts Green (Newcastle)
Ph: (02) 4948 0433
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