Look inside: Our Hymer B544 2001 Motorhome: Zagan

Hymer B544 Motorhome A Class Zagan

Hi folks This post tells you a wee bit about our new adventure wagon/land yacht/home on wheels: Zagan (or strictly speaking, Żagań, after the town in Poland associated with The Great Escape), our Hymer B544 motorhome. Isn’t he one hell of a magnificent, luxury beasty!?

Hymer B544 Motorhome A Class Zagan
Zagan: Our 2001 Hymer B544

First off, a bit of background. My wife Julie and I (Jay) quit work in 2011, bought a 1993 Hymer B544 (named Dave after the previous owner’s cat) for £10500, lifted our dog Charlie inside and drove to Dover and turned right at Calais. A year later we came back to the UK, got an MOT, said hello to friends and family, and drove to Dover again, this time turning left at Calais. Another year later our funds finally ran out and we headed back, our heads packed full of memories and our hearts still on the road.

1993 Hymer B544 Motorhome
Dave, our previous 1993 Hymer B544
1993 Hymer B544 Motorhome
Dave, our previous 1993 Hymer B544
Dave, our previous 1993 Hymer B544
Dave, our previous 1993 Hymer B544

Fast forward to now (July 2015) and Dave has parted company with us, taken on by a wonderful family who continue to get joy and fun from the awesome vehicle he is. We on the other hand are the proud owners of a new luxury adventure wagon: Zagan. He’s another B544, as the previous one just suited us so well. This time he’s a 2001 model, and has a mere 49,000 miles on the clock (Dave had over 125,000 miles when we sold him).

Although Dave was still going strong (and we did attempt to buy him back), we have a hope to get some more significant travels under our belts so we may well have eventually managed to break him (probably not). So last week after two months of searching through autotrader.co.uk, ebay.co.uk, mobile.de and gumtree.co.uk, we finally bought Zagan for £16800. Our budget was £15000, but, ah, erm, we spent more… At the £15k mark we wanted the ‘new’ Hymer B544 look with the round headlights (since superseded, but we’re no way sinking £50,000 of capital when it could be earning its keep in a Vanguard ETF or some such, oh, right, best get back on subject…).

We also wanted a full service history (FSH) and less than 70,000 miles on the clock. Our free-camping habit also pushes us towards having a Solar PV set-up, and gas bottles we can refill ourselves with LPG (Dave had both of these). Zagan initially came on the market as an eBay auction, starting at £18k. He popped onto our radar immediately, despite being over-budget. Another couple of similar spec vans had appeared in the 2 month hunt, but were gone by the time we got to them.

The price put us off, everything else looked good – FSH, 49k miles, 3 owners from new, left hand drive, solar PV with 2 leisure batteries. We’d just need to install some bits and bobs, and we’d be good to go. The van went onto the mental ‘watch’ list. The auction completed without a single bid, and the van then re-appeared, again as an auction starting at £16800. Tipping point for us. These are the photos from the eBay ad:

Ju called the owners that night and confirmed they would take £16800, which they would, but no less. The next day I headed off in the wee hours on my weekly commute to Birmingham, while Ju arranged for insurance and checked with the bank how we could move that amount of money. As the van was a 3 hours drive away, we wanted to check it over and bring it back with us if all was good. The only option was to get £7000 in cash (that was one thick envelope folks) and transfer the rest on the phone that evening.

And the rest is history.

I came back to Notts to pick up Ju, headed down to Crowthorne in the Smart Car, the van looked perfect (with few intended mods – see below). We got it and drove back home, somehow arriving in one piece after 2 years driving a Smart, bushed and buzzing. I’ve taken a couple of videos of the van so you can get a feel for it (especially if you’re thinking of getting something similar). The specification’s then vaguely listed below along with the modifications we intend to make and why.

Zagan’s specification is:

  • Make and model: Hymer B544
  • Engine: Fiat Ducato 2.8 JTD (Dave had a 2 litre diesel non-turbo and made it over various mountain ranges, no problemo)
  • Chassis: Al-ko (double floor – as shown on the above video – means there are lots of external lockers, no under-seat storage is taken up by the fresh water tank and should be better insulated in the cold)
  • Current Mileage: 49,000 miles
  • History: Imported to UK from new, 3 previous owners, full service history
  • Driving position: Left hand drive (we’ll spend most of our time on the continent so although not essential by any means, this helps)
  • Food storage: 3 way fridge (12V when driving, 230v when on hook-up and gas otherwise), full width freezer within fridge unit
  • Heating: gas-powered air and water heating
  • Internal layout: two benches, passenger seat swivels all the way into the lounge area, rear kitchen and wet room
  • Sanitary facilities: wet room with internal hidden wall to separate shower and toilet. Shower heated from gas. Cassette chemical toilet emptied from outside
  • Cooking: 3 burner gas hob (no oven or grill – we learned to cook toast in a dry frying pan!)
  • Bed: double full–width drop down bed from above the cab, plus one of the benches slides out to make a further single bed
  • Length: 6.06m (or if you’re in Norway, 5.95m, ahem)
  • Additional: awning, reversing camera, two bike rack, roof-mounted Solar PV panel with two leisure batteries (Ah to be determined – I can’t see at the moment as the batteries need hauling out – guess around 150Ah to 200Ah), partial LED lighting, Snow and Mud marked tyres (all season tyres – legal requirement in winter in many countries), external gas/230v/12v points, cab air conditioning, power steering

So far,we installed these upgrades:

We’ll no doubt have some updates to tell as we get going with Zagan and using the wagon in anger – watch this space. Cheers, Jay No, hang on, what am I doing? I nearly missed the best bit – my favourite two things in Zagan:


  1. Hi,
    Nice to see the pics of the “new” van! Very nice too! We’ve just returned from a 5 week 6 Country tour, I say tour but we end up staying for several days at most sites! We were avid caravaners and can’t seem to shake the habit.

    Vagan is a nice looking van can’t say were too keen to head to far North.

    The European weather forecast seems to dictate our direction of travel!

    We’ll be watching with interest, your next adventure!

    Mike n June

    • Hi Mike and June. We’re wondering how things will pan out for us this time. Previously time felt very limited. This time maybe not so much, as we’re sorted some financial stuff out and have a good idea what our costs might be. We too could find ourselves spending longer to get more of a feel for each place and the people there. To some degree it felt like we were stones skipping across a deep surface before. We’ll see. Yup, weather’s the main thing driving our plans. Norway in winter? Nah, I’m way too soft for that. Croatia on the other hand, might just be passable, failing that Greece or Turkey would do nicely (we’ve a fre drachma knocking about somewhere I’m sure). Cheers! Jay

    • Hi Kiri and Steve, you might need to wait a while guys! Thanks, the van just looks more awesome every time we get up there and have a look. The storage is ridiculous, but I’m somehow sure it will get filled… Hmmm, spear gun, wetsuits, Kayak, fishing rods, remote control toy dinosaurs to harass Charlie with? Yeah, it’ll all get used! 57 working days to go folks… Cheers, Jay

  2. Brilliant job and I know you’ll go on from strength to strength with this new and luxurious van! I think the improvements you want to make are spot on and will add to the general comfort in which you’ll travel; and thats good cos you’ll be able to concentrate on the experiences and not the mechanicals. While we’re on that one, if you source a good supply of well-priced wing mirrors let em know as my 510 has been smashing them with gay abandon recently! Nothing to do with me……;)

    • Hi Hugh, cheers for the comment! Zagan will do us proud I’m sure, but having mangled a clutch in France we know we can get most problems sorted. The edge of the Sahara might be a different matter (planning on more Morocco action in 18 months). The previous Zagan owners included a sample flat mirror glass and one of the little curved mirrors; they must have heard about my reputation! Cheers, Jay

  3. Hey Guys, that looks superb! & good job on the videos too. We got settled down with a raspberry slush & some popcorn & enjoyed all 23mins of it. :-) Great layout, at 6m long, it’s got it all going on in there. We totally agree with you about the ‘mid afternoon crash-out sofas’, often missed in newer vans. We will also be looking forward to ‘The travels of Zegan’ aka ‘The great escape’ with interest. Not long now till you start pushing an eyeful of scenery past the windows. Good luck with the mods & thanks for the tour, Wayne & Angie. (ps, we are not sure if we need a dance pole now we’ve seen yours) :-)

    • Cheers guys, I did go on a bit! What can I say, despite the Captain Monotone dialogue I’m getting manically excited. The van is just beautiful, I never imagined owning something so fabulous, never mid having great hulking chunks of freedom to use it to the absolute maximum. Those sofas are going to work very well at think, just need a bit of table fettling but we’ll live in Zagan for a couple of months to work out exactly what will work first. Love that phrase ‘pushing an eyeful of scenery’, cracking stuff. I remember first driving Dave through France and feeling like an was sat still as some uber-realistic 3D wide screen movie was shown to me. Nah, I’m not sure you need the dance pole either. It’ll come in handy for something or other, maybe we can fit a tank inside and use it to sneak wine into Norway? :-) cheers, Jay

  4. Congrats on your new purchase. We too have made yet another change, our 6th van in 20 yrs of this fab way of life. After our usual winter in Spain we found our new van no. 5 too small so there you go. Hitting mid 70″s feel we must grab life by the throat while we can. This is a supa dupa e m, really enjoyed reading allabout and seeing your new 2nd home. With every gud wish. Ed

    • Thanks Ed! Sounds like you guys have done a good deal of ‘grabbing life by the throat’ already. Hats off to you! Cheers, Jay

      • Hi jason and jools

        I don’t know if you remember us, Trev and Sheila, from when we met you in San Sebastián a couple of years ago but we previously owned a brilliant 544 called Hymie which you rechristened Zagan.

        So glad you’re havindg such brilliant adventures in h

        You may remember we have a Murvi Morello which we also love but still have hankerings for the HYMER magic

        We’re currently in Peniscola at the beginning of a 2 month winter chill out. Not a lot of touring but enjoying the sun (or conversely not cold and rain)
        9 weeks in Croatia May and June so still enjoying the camper life
        Sorry for meandering after v nice vino tinto but just wanted to say hi and love what you’re doing
        Trev xxx

        • Hi Guys
          Of course we remember you! We were only talking about you the other day as a friend of ours was thinking of converting a panel van and we were telling him about how well laid out yours is.
          Great to hear that you are still truckin’ and enjoying the camper life. We’re enjoying being in one place for a while and spending time with friends and family.
          Keep in touch and hopefully our paths will cross again and we can share a vino tinto!
          Ju x

  5. hi there, excited for you especially as we have almost the exact same Hymer, ours is a B544 2002, same Alko chassis, awesome for SUP and kitesurfing water toys, ski storage. Also rated 4 ton which is good for returning home with plenty wine / olive oil etc. Only differences seem to be ours is RHD and we have one long bench seat ( passenger side) and then a 2 facing forward plus 2 facing rear with table between on the other side. One tip ( assuming you have a similar boiler heater) is get a spare valve unit which comes out of the top of the boiler. It has a small floating ball in it which allows air in if the solenoid actuates the water drain ( when temp gets near zero) . The problem we had (scarily on the first outing) was the small ball broke down and so with the tap pump running the water was simply pushed out of the vent ( which should have been sealed by the small floating ball when the level of the water reahes the top of the boiler etc ) . I managed to find the parts even though some forums ( and suppliers ) seem to suggest you can no longer get them . let me know if you struggle to find some £6.50 each I think is what we paid. I will have the receipt in the file . kind regards

  6. Hi, we are about to go to Germany on Saturday to pick up our own B544 2000 model.First time m/owners a true adventure! Been going over your blog carefully, any suggestions what we have to take with us(in 2 23kilo suitcases!) We live in Greece,so will be driving it back here all being sale goes okay! Manky thanks was great fun reading all your info Jx

    • Hi guys

      Wayhey! Happy days. The B544 is (IMHO) one hell of a motorhome – the best (I’d say that of course) but this make and model works really well for us. Bonne chance winging its way over to you for the sale.

      What to take? Hmmmm:

      • Critical stuff for the sale – not sure what that might be in Germany – ability to pay, to prove who you are, maybe proof of insurance?
      • Legal stuff – usual sorts of stuff – warning triangle, high vis vests etc – if not included in van purchase
      • Glasses if you need them to drive
      • Clothes and usual toiletries
      • Are they including bedding – if not a sleeping bag or two?
      • If not included with the van, you might want to pack some cooking stuff – pots/pans/plastic plates, cutlery, lighter
      • GPS and maps
      • Maybe some books – Lonely Planets plus a few novels?
      • Banging tunes to pootle down the autobahn to
      • The rest of it you can probably just pick up en route

      Ju put together a full list here which would be worth a quick check for anything I’ve missed. Could also be worth considering ADAC pan-European breakdown cover?

      Have a cracking time guys, Jay

  7. Your blog is a mine of information and a great way to get lost and explore a website. So many interesting articles. Will be following your new adventure with interest. Let us know how you get on with the WIFI aerial.

    We are off early Jan next year for one year in Spain. We have been fortunate in that we will be doing the trip in a loan Elldis Encore.

    Like you work in IT and have just given notice.

    ATB David

    • Cheers David, much appreciated! You might want to check out the Our Bumble PDFs too – they spent a fair bit of time in Spain.

      The directional wifi aerial we got from Adam at motorhomewifi.com worked well -got signals from some distance (over 1km line of site). As we were forever moving around though, I found it frustrating always trying to find a network to hook up to. Much of the time we used the cellular network, using a 3G USB dongle with a EuropaSIM (can’t get them any more) or a local SIM. The dongle often ended on the end of a cable stuck out the window to try and get a signal. Adam and Sophie are sending over a roof-mounted 4G antenna, 3 SIM and MiFi, which should give us one sweet experience compared to those previous couple of years. We’ll do a post on the kit when it arrives and video the install for the fun of it!

      Cheers, have a cracking time in Spain guys. Jay

  8. Hello guys
    How jealous are we?! What an amazing van Zagan is. Especially the automatic door step and those wipers. Mind blown. My partner Chris and I have a 1999 Peugeot Boxer motorhome with a similar layout but we always wanted a Hymer. Sadly when it came time to buy, it was summer and they were out of our price range. We’ve been on the road in Stan (named after my late father) now since May this year. Absolutely loving it. We enjoy keeping up with your travels and have taken a load of useful info from your site, so cheers for that! Will be keeping watch, Gem & Chris :)

  9. Brilliantly blogged adventures guys!! We came over to the Old Dart last year and bought Hugo, our 2000 B584 Hymer. This vintage Hymer are the goods. We did 4 months all over the UK (not the most MH friendly place!) and he’s parked up in Folkestone waiting for us to return to take on France this time. Following your adventures closely…being a tragic skier I have had a light-bulb moment reading the last few weeks in the French Alps. It’s now on the list!

    Keep safe :-) Brendon & Lorna, Sunny Palm Beach, Queensland, Australia

    PS..Typo above describing Dave “bought a 2003 Hymer B544 (named Dave”..1993?

  10. Hi, Do you always return to UK to get your MoT done once a year. Hubby asked me and I remember reading somewhere on your blog that you had returned home for this. Was this a one off or is this your usual plan? How does that aspect work? Meg P.S. reckon your next book could be on World Beers!🍻 keep up the taste tests. 😉

    • Hi Megan

      Yeah, For our insurance to be legal the van has to be legal in the country it is registered in, which means having a valid MOT. Unless you buy a new van, you need to return a UK registered vehicle to the UK once a year to MOT it. As far as we know there is no way to get a UK standard MOT done anywhere but in the UK.

      Hmmm, beers of the world! There’s a thought!

      Cheers, Jay

  11. Hi Jay, Ju and Charlie

    I have started reading from the beginning, now halfway through 2012 and loving your writing style. We are researching now for a purchase later this year, started off looking at nearly new Autotrail, now seriously considering the B544 to get us started.

    Noticed a typo above on the link to the Dave video, you have written 2003 and I think you meant 1993.

    Keep on keeping on. Looking forward to reading the rest of your adventures. Maybe see you on MH Fun or Wild camping forums.


  12. your blogs is amine of information indeed guys and it is wondarfully written with love and good care, thank for the info guyes and always have a sweet breeze on your travels.

    I am interested to buy a humer of 1992 like your Dave, so may I ask your opinion about it. It will be my first one, considering his age can I fix the motor if is need it. Is a 10000 euros a good price,
    I would love to hearing from you,

    • Hi Nikos, hard to say without seeing the vehicle but that’s roughly the ballpark price you’d pay in the UK so sounds about right. Our clutch died when we were in France and we had to get a Fiat garage to fix it. That was expensive, over a thousand euros, but it is part of owning an older vehicle. They can always be fixed, but it’s not always cheap. Cheers, good luck, Jay

  13. Hi guys. After months of research we are now on the hunt for our first Hymer. Woohoo!!! We’re definitely going for a B544 and I’m edging towards a 2001 like Zagan because I think the double floor would work well for us. Wondering what your payload is with full water, fuel and gas? We’ll be fulltiming with a similar set up (I hope). Solar, gasflow, awning. No desire for ovens and such.
    Still working my way through your blog and return to pages time and again for info. Best resource I’ve come across and such a great read as well.
    Cheers! x

    • Cheers guys. The double floor has given us FAR more storage space than we have the weight capacity for. We have two leisure batteries, awning, a Sat TV system, two bikes and rack and a solar panel and we’re easily bouncing off the 3.5 tonne limit. I’ve never weighed the van before loading it, so I don’t know the carry weight capacity, sorry! Cheers, Jay

  14. Hi Julie and Jason,

    I’ve just come across your website. This is exactly what myself and my husband want to do eventually. We talk about it all the time. At the minute we can’t go for it as we have two school age children. Our eldest is almost 16 and in her GCSE year. Our other one is almost 12 and in his first year at secondary school.
    In the meantime we are travelling as much as we can. We also have a Hymer, which we love; yours looks fab! This year we are off skiing in two weeks time, we plan to visit France during the Easter holidays, probably Il de Re and La Rochelle area. In the summer we have three weeks planned to tour Spain and Portugal. So although we can’t just up and go at the minute we get away as often as we can. Are you still in Morocco?
    I love the way you name your motohomes, I think that we need to come up with a name for ours.
    I look forward to following your travels.


  15. Hi Jay, what time of year is best to look for second hand M Home? You got a real bargain there as those model Hymers are very expensive. Just checked Ebay and saucy prices being asked for. May look at mobile.de as want a LHD. That size M Home seems about the best blend for touring for 2 people. What kind of economy do you get from the 2.8 Jtd? R, Ken

    • Hi Ken, erm, I dunno! We only bought 3 and one was from a dealer. The general advice is to buy at the end of the season, so maybe October to November in the UK, but we’ve never managed that, we bought when we wanted the van. That said, we did wait and look around at a few vehicles, then when the right one came up we moved quickly, buying it the next day. Economy I stopped measuring so I really don’t know. If we want to go somewhere, we go, the MPG wouldn’t affect the decision. Good luck with it all, stressful and exciting as it is! Cheers, Jay

  16. Hi Guys,
    I have to say that before I saw these videos I was thinking what a ferkin nerdy thing it was to do.
    However, I found them extremely interesting; in particular because I’m 69 years old, live in the Sth of France, and I’m going to buy a motor home within the next few weeks to tour Italy for a couple of months in May/June with my dog.
    Not being a very practical person, it was interesting to be taken on a tour of the facilities.
    Many thanks and well done.

  17. Hi, Thanks so much for your blog, we are newbies ex caravan tuggers, looking to explore Europe in a big way. We have just bought our first moho it a Carthago and we love it.
    We have been following “Our Bumble” for some months and just discovered yours which is a bonus.
    We do have some payload probs to get over however (long story). You did mention that your new van is rated at 3500KGs and that it more or less weighed in close to that without you being in it!!!, How did you overcome this, before even fitting the extras that you have listed. It would seem that its an almost impossible task to keep below the 3500KGs weight limit these days, we are having to get ours uprated to accomplish anything near a realistic payload for long term travelling including Air suspension!!

    • Cheers Les.

      Ours weighed in at 3500Kg with the both of us in, but with tanks only partly full. We would (I guess) have been over the limit at least a little at points where we heavily stocked up with food going into Norway and Morocco. The payload on the van is the limiting factor for us carrying stuff – we have tons of storage we can’t use for anything but helium balloons and feathers…

      Most of the people we’ve chatted about van weight with have never been to a weighbridge, so don’t know what the van weighs, even within a few 100Kg. My guess (and it’s only a very rough guess) is that motorhomes out touring are generally over the limit, but enough contingency has been built into the underlying chassis to enable us to continue physically driving about with causing mass mayhem. Otherwise we’d be being pulled over left, right and centre by the police across Europe and being weighed/fined. The law’s the law though, and perhaps more importantly no-one wants to cause an accident not being able to stop, or having brakes fail on a long descent, so keeping within the limit makes a lot of sense.

      Not an easy job packing up a motorhome for a long multi-season tour, good luck with it all! Cheers, Jay

  18. Thanks Jay
    Taking advice from other members on MH Fun, we took our new MH to the weigh bridge, with full tanks (diesel& Fresh water) with me in it, not much else other than levelling ramps and got a nasty surprise as the net weight MIRO quoted for the van was well out, which seems to be the case with many vans thesedays. This result has left us with no other option than to pay a company like SV tech to get us a new weight plate uprated to 3850KGs, having fitted rear Air Suspension, then get a new V5 from DVLA to reflect this. No Brake upgrades needed mind you, which is interesting as without mods it reflects as you say that these chassis can take more weight than the vehicle is normally plated at.
    Love your comments on loads of cupboards that can only be filled with Helium Balloons & Feathers….thats so true Lol.
    Thanks again for your Blog its the best reference site we have found for detail and advice, we have a bit more stuff to fit to the van to make it “self Sufficient” but thats part of the fun. Happy travels

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