Introducing….Zagan the van!!

If you were on the M1 after midnight last night you may have spotted something very rare – Jay driving a motorhome in the dark. It only happens on very special occasions and last night was one of them – we were bringing home our new travel companion, Zagan.

We’re hitting the road again for a couple of months in October, so have been keeping our eyes on the market. After links to many, many vans being emailed to each other (yes even if we were sat in the same room!) I was becoming a bit like Goldilocks; this one has too many miles, this one is the wrong layout, this one has horrible upholstery, this one is too far away – I was beginning to doubt if we would ever find one that was ‘just right’. Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of fantastic vans out there, but to get the one that was right for us, at the right price, we realised we’d have to act fast. We agreed that if we both looked at a van and both liked it, we’d go and view it asap.

We first spotted the van soon to be known as Zagan a week or so ago on ebay, it was listed at £18,000. We liked it but as the layout wasn’t the B544 dinette style we were used to and the price tag was quite a bit over what we were thinking of paying we added it to our watch list and kept looking.

The Van

On Monday the van appeared on ebay again, this time at a reduced price. After combing through the photos for clues (did the seats look worn, had it been looked after, was it photographed at a nice home) we agreed we’d go to view it. The only snag being that it was near Farnborough, Hampshire – a three hour drive in our little smart car. We sent a message to the owner he replied with his phone number. A short conversation on the phone with David, the owner, telling us of his adventures abroad in the van and we agreed to take the plunge and go after work the following day.

Zagan Interior
Not quite the layout we were thinking off, but two long benches will be good for napping on!

Realising that we wouldn’t want to do the drive twice, I spent the day getting everything in place so we could bring it home – money was lined up in the account to transfer and insurance was purchased (quotes ranged from £275 – £700 you can guess which we went for!).

Jay left work early, but the road traffic gods weren’t smiling on us as we set off on the hottest day of the year so far. Our junction of the M1 which is a couple of miles from our house was shut due to an accident, so traffic was snarled up everywhere. Unsuitably sweaty and bedraggled we arrived just after 7pm. David and his lovely wife Hazel showed us around their pride and joy – men looking at the man stuff on the outside, girls the important stuff on the inside. We were then joined by Rusty, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. All it took was Rusty’s demonstrated how Charlie would look in the passenger seat and the deal was done.

OK, so it wasn’t quite like that, but within a couple of hours, we we’re setting off for home, only this time in convoy.

Looks like we gotta convoy!
Zagan in Lidl
A quick stop to check we’re all good in Lidl car park – where else!
This was the beautiful sunset as we headed towards the M25. Hang on though the M25 is east – Satnav??!!

It’s all a bit of a whirl at the moment. Zagan is waiting for us on Jay’s parents drive as our storage place closes its gates at 9pm. It doesn’t seem real yet and we’re both very tired. But we did get to experience last nights ‘leap second’ at 1am just before our heads hit the pillows to dream about the beaches we’ll be visiting in Zagan.

Ju x


  1. Looks like great times ahead for the three of you, looking forward to reading about your new adventures and maybe a video or two. Hope you have safe journeys wherever you venture to

  2. Well Done !! Can’t beat the Hymer!! But we are biased. We are very pleased with Bruce. I’m sure Zagan will look after you well too!

    Mark, Bev and Aussie Bruce!!

  3. WAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHH!!! I’m one hell of an excited 43 year old boy. Thanks for the comments guys, all much appreciated, Jay

    • Hi guys. Charlie has just travelled the 2 miles from my Dad’s drive to the forage place and, to be fair, hated it. Less the new layout, more the fact it was 40 degrees in there! Got all the vents and windows open as soon as we stopped and watered the wee beauty so he finally calmed down. I strongly suspect he’ll select one of the long benches as his prime snoozing spot, and he will enjoy the floor-level fridge for snout shoving as he did in Dave. Can’t wait to get going now, 3 month countdown. Cheers, Jay

  4. Well done.we had a 544 for a while but went to a 554 for better storage.looking forward to a winter of reading your adventures.good luck.

    • Hey Deryck! This puppy has one of them al-ko double floor wotsits which seems to mean we have about double the storage we had in our old B544. One bench used to be taken up by the fresh water tank, but that’s now in between the floors, and there are seemingly innumerable side lockers for storing our newly procured Lidl blow-up kayak (yet to be tested, job for the weekend maybe). All these vans are wonderful IMHO. Been reading vandogtraveller’s blog and he’s rather enjoying himself in a very basic, if also very clever, self build conversion. Bring on the open road (this statement doesn’t include the M1 or M25. Or M42, M6 or M5, all of which have managed to steal large portions of my life recently! Cheers, Jay

  5. Great bus, have a similar, a 640 of the same year. I know you’ve had a hymer before but check the shower for cracks around the shower plug hole & check it’s charging ok. Welcome back #hymerlife

    • Good advice, thanks Pete. Need a shakedown to find out how stuff works, what needs tweaking and the like. Thinking about a cheeky #Britstop for the weekend. Would help if we had the book. Might just a google a pub and phone ’em up. Cheers, Jay

  6. In the words of Willie Nelson’s song…..
    ‘On the road again
    Goin’ places that I’ve never been
    Seein’ things that I may never see again
    And I can’t wait to get on the road again’…
    Have a great time exploring in your new home

  7. Hey Ju&J, been following from a distance for a while, love the blog (still reading it, it’s huge!!) Love your new van, can’t fault your choice. Looking forward to the list of specifications, solar, LPG etc.I bet that TV’s going on flea-bay :-) . Very much looking forward to your forthcoming posts, good luck guys. Wayne Angie & Charlie in Norwich.

    • Cheers guys! We looked at the telly, then at the Sky+ box and DVD player in the cupboard and then back at the TV. Are we going to use that stuff? Last time we watched the TV once, then dropped it off in the UK. This time things are different – the mere 2 years on the road last time might be a shakedown trip compared to what’s to come. Neither of us know, but if we do go into it seriously long term we may want to hook back up to the ‘real world’ from time to time (although it’s all 240V and we don’t plan to take a genny so would be limited to hook-up anyway). We’ll leave it in for now I think, and see how we end up living. Cheers, and yep – we did stick a load of stuff on the blog – some of it written less than sober (my posts of course)! Cheers, Jay

    • Gathering dust Vaughan, waiting it’s time to be ham-fistedly hammered at by my enthusiastic but talentless man paws! Watch this space man. :-)

      • Right, you asked for it, this is (as far as we can tell) Zagan’s spec:

        2001 B544 Fiat Alko Ducato 14 Common Rail
        Alko means double floor for more storage (oodles of it) plus no leaf springs for suspension
        2800 cc TD, 172PS
        48,000 miles, FSH, cam belt changed in 2011
        3500 kg max weight
        Cab air con
        Gas is presently two lightweight bottles with auto cut-over
        Satellite TV with Sky+ HD and DVD player
        Awning with safari room (sides), weaved ground sheet, table, chairs and camping kitchen
        External 12V, 230V and gas points
        Reversing camera
        Single PV panel with LCD display and two leisure batteries
        Strike back alarm and immobiliser
        2 bike rack
        Came with everything to get started: cables, power connectors, cutlery, plates, microwave, toaster, electric oven, spare bulbs, fuses, spare wheel trims, warning triangle, first aid kit, ramps and chocks, aluminium bike back board (for Italy) and last, but not least, a handbrake extender

        Basically, it is the bee’s knees, half the stuff in there will likely come out over time as we just don’t need it. We hardly know what to do with ourselves with the funky window blinds and two-sink hole shower tray (no more swooshing water uphill when we’re on a wonk). Happy days!

        Cheers, Jay

  8. Yo – way to go you 2 :-) :-) :-)
    Soooo jealous – is Zagan a B544L??
    If so we looked at one recently (not in position to buy yet) and liked the layout.
    And welcome Zagan to your new owners. Funny I’m all excited and it’s not even mine!!!!

  9. Well phew! That’s a prety tidy spec.Luxury for you two. Are you not having a Kyak each, you could have races :-) loser cooks supper with ‘an electric oven! I see you got the version with a dance pole, don’t fall off the table top Ju (like i did once). Seriously, great spec.,time to reward yourselves for all the sweat & toil & if I ever see a microwave oven the central reservation of a German Autobahn…I’ll know I’m just behind you. Happy, Happy days indeed.

  10. Nice looking van. It’s a lot younger than Dave, in fact Zagan is still a teenager so I hope he/she behaves and doesn’t throw any teenage strops while your touring.

    • 8 years younger Andy, a spring chicken! Clutch went on Dave in France, got it sorted. Tyre blew out in Spain, sorted it. Whatever happens on t’ continent, as long as none of us are hurt, we’ll get it sorted. Go Zagan, go! :-)

  11. Gee, haven’t looked at your site for a while, since your return last year. Love the newish Hymer and its name ! You cannot beat the rear kitchen versions in our opinion. We have been so happy with our B584, it home away from home. Only a couple of weeks and where off as well. Good Luck.

    • Hey Linda

      No chance are we making a bed up each night. :-) Our auto sleeper harmony had a made up bed, and harmonious it was not! We managed a few holidays away without divorce (uncomfortable, pain to make up and put away, fair bit of storage taken up by bedding), but months of it? Nah.

      Nah, Zagan has a drop-down bed which while driving lifts up against the cab roof. It is easily big enough for us two (both 5 foot 10) and has all the bedding made up all the time. Takes seconds to drop in place, works really well for us.

      Zagan also has a single bed (one of the benches pulls out maybe another 30cm). This is handy when it’s roasting hot so one of you can kip on it and the other up top, depending on who can out up with the heat best/who has had the most vino.

      Cheers! Jay

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