Decision made! We’re buying an Autosleeper Duetto

Decision made! We’re buying an Autosleeper Duetto

The photo above is from the Facebook Ad that eventually led to us buying a Duetto.

Our journey from camping to campervan is now at an end. A journey that we had never planned but sometimes these journeys are the best. During 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 we had gradually progressed from 3-person tent to large 6-person, then an even larger Airbeam and finally a perfectly sized and easy to erect 5-person Vango. We had fallen in love with camping were becoming more and more drawn to a campervan.

That’s when we did some campervan research and hired an Autosleep Duetto, just to see if it was really for us and the answer was a definite YES!

What we didn’t appreciate was the fact that finding a decent Autosleeper is hard work. Here is a summary of what we discovered along the way: –

This was our personal experience and others may come to a different observation.

We soon realised that there are 3 price categories of Autosleeper.

  • Under £10k gets you a van over 20 years old, thus creating a variety of issues. Regards its bodywork, Transits are infamous for rusting. Then there’s the mileage, tending to be at least over 80k miles on the clock. The interior condition can be good as Autosleeper has a great reputation for quality but clearly time and use will have an impact. The number of owners isn’t usually high but these vans can be a starter van and owners regularly move on to bigger vans / motorhomes. So, there is a clear risk and this price range and we can’t emphasise enough – check thoroughly for rust!
  • 10k – 20k will get you a broad spectrum of vans that will require just as much vigilance but as you get closer to the 20k budget, you will start to see improvements in the interior, lower millage and less previous owners but you’re not out of the woods when it comes to rust. The engines run forever, so high mileage is less of an issue compared to signs of rust. The wheel arches can be really bad, so take a magnet with you and check to see if it is attracted to the paintwork, if not then there might be a lot of filler hiding a big problem. The age range for this price bracket will be from 20 years to around 15 years, so as you can see, they keep their value pretty well.
  • Over 20k should get you a van that is less than 15 years and in reasonably good condition but remember, Autosleeper stopped making Duetto’s in 2010, so expect to pay up to £30k for newer vans. Also, from 2000 the transit base changed and you can clearly see the difference in the two models with different distinct external looks but the interior remained virtually the same. It’s difficult to improve on perfection!

The observations noted above were discovered over many hours of searching and going to see Duetto’s at dealerships and the odd private sale but it didn’t really help us find the one we wanted, it just stopped us buying the one we didn’t want! We had a budget that just took us into the over £20k range but only just and as a result, we felt that any van we seen was overpriced or left us unwilling to pay all that money for something that might have unknown issues.

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Then, out of the blue, Aileen discovered an Ad on Facebook marketplace that seemed too good to be true. The Ad was for an Autosleeper Duetto 2007 with low mileage and within our budget but we were wary, very wary, yet also very interested. So, after some messaging back and forth, we decided to give this van some serious consideration.

The Duetto was in Dumfries, about 85 miles from our home, so it was a long way to go just to kick some tyres. We wanted a proper inspection, so we contacted an online company, ClickMechanic, who arranged for a local mechanic to go and look at the Duetto and give it a full inspection. We booked the mechanic to arrive and start his inspection just before we planned to arrive. So by the time we would get there, he could give us the good or bad news.

On the day of our potential purchase of our dream campervan, we excitedly awoke at 5.30am and after a light breakfast, we were off to Dumfries. We had arranged to meet the mechanic at 9am, so it was also an early start for him as hopefully his inspection would be nearly finished by then.

The drive down to Dumfries couldn’t have been nicer. It was a reasonably hot and sunny February, which just added to our happy mood. Unfortunately, this unusually hot day triggered Aileen to have a flush whilst we were in the fast lane and she proceeded to urgently take off her jacket – she was driving! For the next couple of scary minutes, as Aileen did an impression of Harry Houdini escaping from a Straight Jacket, I genuinely thought that we were never going to see our dream campervan.

Thankfully we arrived safe and sound at our destination and there, in the driveway, was our Autosleeper Duetto. The next couple of hours were taken up by different elements of a vehicle buying procedure.

  • First impressions of the vehicle – loved the colour and bodywork, apart from the bull bar and extra headlights but they can be removed. She looked like new.
  • First impressions of the seller – They were clearly a genuine older couple who gave us an honest reason for why they were selling.
  • Mechanical vehicle check – The mechanic who represented ClickMechanic was very helpful and friendly. He clearly knew what he was doing and gave the Duetto full pass marks. He added that he had never seen a Transit that age with such a great bodywork and was mechanically sound.
  • The reality that you are actually going to make an offer, has arrived – this is when the anxiety levels begin to build as you realise that there is now no reason to walk away. The van is perfect, it now comes down to you actually handing over a large sum of money.
  • Then, once the deed is done, there’s the paperwork. In our case, the issue was the fact that our newly purchased Duetto had a private number plate but we worked through this and sorted out the insurance.

We were now all set to drive her back to our home and hope that our previous measurements of our driveway were accurate and she was going to fit in.  

It was decided that Aileen would follow me in the car and I would drive our Duetto, which still needed a name, back home. Just one last thing to do, fill her up with diesel and that’s when I had to try and remember where the fuel cap was. I was sure it was at the off side, so as we pulled into the garage I parked up beside a pump and made my way to the fuel cap. The cap seemed a bit flimsy but unscrewed in the usual way most caps come off and I started to fill her with diesel. Almost instantly I could smell a strong stench of diesel and could hear liquid pouring out onto the garage forecourt! I immediately stopped what I was doing and began to investigate. Don’t tell me the fuel tank is leaking or a pipe is detached. Then it became shockingly clear what I had done. I had filled the fresh water tank with diesel and the drainage tap for the tank was open. As it turned out, this was a significant piece of good luck because if the tap had been closed, I would have continued to fill the fresh water tank with diesel and whose to say how that would have ended!

This was a major rooky error and I was both gutted and raging with myself but there was nothing I could do except apologise to the garage attendant as he gainfully cleared up my mess with large amounts of sand. I then had to find the correct fuel cap and persuade Aileen to go into the garage and pay for it, sparing my blushes.  

Apart from that, our first day with our newly acquired Autosleeper Duetto went well and to our relief, she fitted in our driveway with space to spare.

Our journey from camping to campervan was now complete – roll on the adventures!

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