Searching for Zagan, Hymer B544 Wanted, Preferably Alive

Yeah OK, you’re right, it was a mere 12 months ago we heartlessly flogged Dave, our trusty steed of a Hymer B544. As the new owners drove him slowly down the street (Dave had one mode: slow mode), we stood and stared after him. Ju cried. I thought how weird it felt to see him driving on his own, without me in the captain’s chair surrounded by the broad vista projected through his window.

Dave. It took me a year to work out he didn’t have a turbo. Doh.

So why on Earth are we suddenly after another van so soon? Errrmmmm. Weeeellll. We’re addicted dammit, that’s why. The feeling of roaming free, deciding which town, city or country to be in on a daily basis, is just too much to give up. So, we’ve sorted out the Cooler as our crash pad, are a few months from finishing contract work, and are gearing up for another fix. Another stretch, most likely several stretches interlinked with work or play back in the UK (it seems I was wrong, very wrong; we didn’t manage to just slot back into the old rat race):

Why the same make and model? Why not. The layout worked really well for us:

  • Less than 6m so easier to pop into standard car parking spots on sleepy harboursides around Europe
  • Drop down bed was comfortable, massively convenient and saved a stack of space; when it got too hot up there we made the main bed up from the table
  • Fixed dinette table easily accommodated 4 chilled out dossers, ah, enlightened travellers. 6 after a few glasses of wine
  • Long bench served well for chilling out/storing wetsuits and BBQs/dog sleeping area
  • Good-sized LPG, fresh and grey water tanks, and large black water cassette for extended off-grid action
  • A wet room which worked a treat for us
  • The basic kitchen suited us fine, no oven, no worries

Other aspects of his personality and looks also grew on us as we went:

  • He wasn’t exactly shiny on the outside, which we figured would make us look less like the enormously privileged travelling elite that we were… :-)
  • The electronicsless greasy bulk of an engine made us feel like we could get him fixed, if needs be, anywhere
  • Our initial searching back then had started off >£20,000. A growing sense of impending career-induced madness pushed this down to £10,500. Although 20 years old, with about a million km on the clock, he had a full service history and but for a bust clutch in Narbonnne, didn’t choose to abandon us in the desert. Phew
  • He was solidly built (he says forgetting the bathroom mirror falling off in Greece, and the amazing breaking door hinge part 1, and part 2)

So like sugar-fuelled nippers at bedtime, our fingers are dancing over the pooter keyboard hunting out a van, with the aim to be in the Alps for a couple of months in the late Autumn. Back for Xmas and a mate’s wedding in January, and then who knows, Turkey maybe, Norway for the summer? YEAH, BABY!!!

Hearts are set on a Hymer for sure. B544 worked a treat for us. I need the ‘FSH’ to give me hope the beast will last the coming years, and our detailed financially modelling (yep, for once I’m serious) gives us a max of £15k to spend. By letting the van out when we’re not using it, we **might** be able to go a bit higher. But why? The last van was a third less and we busted up Europe, mountains an all, in the lumbering animal of a thing. Why spend more on a shinier newer one?

An aside: I’ll put you out of your misery about the van name in the title. Zagan is a town in Poland. In the woods outside stood the wooden huts of Stalag Luft III, the camp where The Great Escape took place (worth going to see if you’re a fan like me). The new van will be our own form of modern escape, hence the name Zagan. Zagan, the van. Sweet. Although in Polish ‘Zagan’ is probably pronounced ‘Swindon’ or some such, impossible language.

Why spend more? This is why. Look at him. Ahhhhh, he’s so pretty. He smells of freedom! Only someone else has already bought him, dammit. The fact he’s not a B544 is besides the point.


The search is also including the Great German Motorhome sales yard that is Bargains over there, with the usual hassle associated with anything which is a great deal, nothing worth having comes easily. Getting over there and back is a problem at the moment due to work, but come September we’ll have a bunch of time to nip over. Patience. Must have patience…

Cheers, Jay


  1. hi you two. Welcome back to the fold. As its hymer you’re after you could have a look at ikonic kampers. They only deal in hymer and that’s where I got my lovely van. Lovely guy. Very straightforward and I am absolutely delighted with Tilley. Worth a look. Good luck

  2. Glad to hear you’ll be off on your travels again.Looking forward to the blogs. Might be in thd Alps ourselves in the autumn, after my total knee replacement next month. Look out for a bright yellow van conversion! Good luck to you both.

  3. Hope you find what you want. After twenty years of this grreeaaat way of life, we would think our legs had been cut off if we did nt have our van, the current one being van no. six. Our very best wishes.

  4. I started reading your blog in mid 2013 as I was counting down the days to retirement and I have always been inspired by your can-do approach. Very sad for you that the rat race pushed you into stepping off for a while but it seems to have done you a favour in the long term.

    I was interested in the advert you posted on this mailing of a Hymer E510. I bought the S510 in Jan 2014, 54000 miles for 20K. My experience since then tells me you are looking the right direction, taking into account your list of likes, dislikes, must haves, etc. My van is 5.88m and a bit more with the double bike rack. It seems to do about 27mpg which is not bad as it has a 2.7 TD Sprinter engine. It will really move on when you want it to as it’s under 3500kg. Road tax is a bit heavy at £240. The living space is very good and this one was built at a time when quality was foremost. I’ve had an oven fitted at a cost of a cupboard and about £450 all in. It has the large gaslow cylinders and this keeps us off hook up for ages in the cold weather.
    You may feel 3 berth would be an issue. The third bed is a wide pull out sofa but only good for one.

    Not selling it but if you want to know more do contact me. All the very best in your search and, who knows, our paths may cross one day in the future.

    • Thanks Hugh. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful retirement, good for you man. We never really got back into the old rat race really, never thought twice about wanting a big car/house/mortgage/overdraft. The office was a means to an end – just our own personal requirement for peace of mind – which we needed really to enjoy what’s to come to the max. My future self will thank me, in all of about 5 months time.

      Thanks for the info on the 510. We’re after the 544 again really, it felt pretty perfect for our needs so we’ll hold off for a bit until we find one. Just trying to calm down a bit, I’m excited. Seriously excited.

      Take it easy, would be fab to bump into you one day. Cheers, Jay

  5. Hi,
    Wow! Things are about to be moving again! Great News!
    Take your time to find the ideal home, prices are a bit higher this time of year as you are probably aware.

    Another point to consider is that most Hymers are deliberately down graded in weight to 2900 kilo, for several reasons.

    It is a fairly straight forward to have the vehicle upgraded to it’s proper weight of 3500, that is a lot of extra cargo to play with. Cost is about £250 or so, no effect on vehicle class and the road tax is the same, as I suspect Zagan will be a keeper it’s gonna be worth it?

    Mike n June

    • Good point guys, we need a bit of patience, no rush, no rush, arrrgggghhhh, buy one now! Quick! I need to sit in it, make a brew, cool a beer, cook and eat my tea again! :-)

      Dave was 3.1 tonnes, and we ran at about capacity the whole time. Another 400Kg would be rather handy to have for that Lidl kayak we forever wished we’d bought. :/)

  6. Great news! I’ve been reading your blog from the beginning and am up to May 2013 – I hope to have caught up before you take off again in September, so I can follow you real time! We’ve hopefully got just 5-6 years before we can retire and go full timing, and your blog full of great, really useful information.

  7. Hi there. We did wonder how long it would take before you went back on the road. As you so rightly said a long while ago ‘the road is like a drug’. Good luck on your search for a Dave replacement, but be patient x
    We are not ‘on the road’ at the moment, taking a gap year in the UK,checking up on growing families and just chilling. I am sure come next Jan we will be planning to head off again. Maybe meet up again. Take care both of you xx

    • Cheers guys, I’m sure we’ll get a chance to meet up somewhere in 2016, 17, 18… ;-) yep, we need to sit tight until we find our next mean machine. Whatever it is, we’re going to give it a seriously hard time out there! Take it easy, Jay

  8. Hahaha, should have had 20p on it!!!!

    Good on you though. Reading your blog inspired us to buy our 18 year old Hymer S 630 – only doing hols for now, but one day…..

    Tale a regular look at Ikonic campers – sources continental vands in good condition, will even do a bespoke search for you. Not super cheap, but correctly priced fir what they are – am sure he would get you a great van in your budget.

    Best of luck!

    • Yeah man! Driving off that ferry nigh-on a couple of years back was tough, but it galvanised us into taking action. Just counted and I’ve got 91 working days left to go!

      We’ve realised our timing is very poor when it comes to buying the van – it’s the start of the season and vans we were looking at for about £10k in November are now £12k. There’s no rush to get the machine – it can wait until the Autumn – so we’ll keep an eye on the market. If nothing’s forthcoming in the UK market we’ll go over to Germany/France ourselves and source something. Dave was from Ikonic Kampers – the previous owners had bought him from them a few months before – so we know they’re good. My feeling is I’d rather go to Europe myself and source something, rather than handing over the (guess) £2k profit to someone else.

      We nipped into the local motorhome dealers at the weekend too. Whoa! £35k and they couldn’t even be bothered to fix the broken step before putting one van on display. Another for a similar price had the trip handing off around the door. Amazing – I guess **someone’s** shelling out for ’em though or the standard would be higher. Either that or the faults are deliberately left as bargaining pieces – who knows.

      Good to hear from you Carl, glad you’ve got your Hymer and are enjoying it – lots of fun eh? Cheers, Jay

  9. We are out on the road and dip into your blog to get an idea on the next country we are heading for. We are in Greece and are addicted!
    We went to Holland to buy our left hand drive Hymer S660. We got it from Bosma Campers who were great. They filled it with fuel and drove us to the Ferry to cover the insurance. Sorting out the importing was a bit confusing at first but we managed. It took us at least 6 months to find the right one – good luck, it will happen.

    • Thanks guys, appreciate the info and encouragement. Greece! Ooooh, yeah, hard to beat eh? I get a warm feeling thinking about it. Cheers, Jay

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