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Matching Advice For First Timer


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Hello all


I’d like your opinions on a match for my first caravan please.


Am new to all this and have never towed before, so do you think the following is a silly idea/match?


Thinking of getting a caravan, but am kind of stuck with the cars we have, can’t afford a new car AND a caravan. Wife’s 1. 6l Zafira has a 1000kg tow limit, so next to useless, so we’d be stuck using my car.


It’s is 2003 Saab 9-3 Convertible, last of the old 98-03 shape (listed as 98-02 most places as that’s when the tin top finished, but the vert carried on til 03). 2. 0t, so 2 litre petrol with low pressure turbo, 150bhp, 5 spd manual.


From vin plate

Max laden mass is 1840kg

Max train mass is 3440kg

therefore towing limit of 1600kg, confirmed by the manual, no problems there.

From V5

Mass in service is 1480kg, that’s the kerb weight right?

We’re looking at 4 berth caravans approx 14-15 yrs old, as we don’t want to spend much on our 1st. All the ones we’ve looked at had similar weights. A 1999 Bailey Pageant Champagne that we liked the look of for example, had unladen weight of 1034kg and MTPLM of 1324kg.


So on paper we have a ratio of 89%, not ideal, especially for a first timer like myself. Problem is, we’re not likely to find a 4 berth much lighter are we?


We are a family of 4 (3. 5&2yr old kids), and I’m a big chap at 17st, so the car will have a fair bit of ballast, plus, knowing we are not ideally matched I’d look to pack the van as lightly as possible, as first timers we won’t have that much stuff anyway.


So, what do you think, silly idea/match, especially considering as well as local holidays in NE England, slightly further to the lakes etc, we would also look to take it on the 250mile trip down the the SE to visit family a couple of times a year.


Any input greatly appreciated.





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The match is fine, the difference between 85%and89% is insignificant. The only problem I see is in how much luggage you could carry. The car has a load margin of only 360kg and with yourself a wife and three kids that will take up a substantial part of the load for the car. The 1999 van's margin will have to accomodate things like the spare wheel and awning and battery plus all the other parephenalia that you need before you think of holiday luggage. I would think that with care this outfit is doable and would probably give you a very good idea as to whether caravanning is for you.



Growing old is compulsory, growing up is not.

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Match seems reasonable. As for whether you like caravanning or not. I would be surprised if you did not.



2005 Nissan X-trail 4WD diesel and Swift Charisma 540 2012 Lunar Clubman ES  2018 Lunar Clubman ES

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Thanks guys


That's reassuring to know.


We'll keep the luggage to minimum for now, haven't got the biggest or best shaped boot in the world, but we'll manage I'm sure. May only get a porch awning for now too.


Will be looking to reassess the car situation next year anyway, as now kids don't use a double buggy, the wife wants to downsize from a zafira to a small hatch like a Suzuki Swift more suitable for the daily school/nursery run, which means i'll have to get something big again, maybe a Volvo V70 T5, I liked my old one.


I know i'll get on with caravanning having grown up with parents taking us away 5-6 times a year in one, a tiny thing with double seat/bed at the front, singe seat/bed at the back with a hammock above for me, toilet at the side, no shower. Kids will love it, they had a great time looking round them at the weekend, it's the wife that may take convincing, though she was surprised how roomy they are nowadays.


I'd love to know what make our old caravan was, will have to dig out the photos, sure it had a logo of a prancing horse/stallion on the front. It was white & sky blue, aluminium I guess with glass windows. There's photos of me learning to walk outside it in mid 70's and we still had it when I was 17 as me and a friend stayed in it for a week in Dorset and I was driving, though my parents towed it for us.


Just need to get a towbar sorted and then go caravan shopping I guess.


Thanks for your input



Edited by Brighty
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Power is fine for a van that weight, my Passat has 20hp less and pulled our old van (5 berth Discovery 400, about 1200kg loaded) perfectly. Weight match is fine too but, from my recent experience with our new van, I wouldn't go over 90%.

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When replacing the Saab in the future do consider a diesel tug - loads more low down grunt (torque) which makes towing easier.


A diesel V70 estate would make an excellent towcar, with lots of room for all that bulky, but not particularly heavy stuff that we take with us when caravanning.

Land Rover is now back towing.

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Try and get a caravan with a kit of extras as it will save a large amount . If you buy off a dealer try and get any kit you want like a porch awning included or heavy discount .


I would not read to much in to towing ratios as the car when loaded with passengers and equipment will weigh a lot more .


Your 17 st ? Kerbweight is based on a 68 kg driver so your already ahead + the towbar weight . :lol:


You might need to consider what caravan you buy if you want to get a larger car and what licence you hold .



Edited by CommanderDave

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