OK – so decision made, no turning back, pockets a bit lighter, all we had to do now was get her back to blighty. Once back in blighty then we would let Bundesvan do all the import paperwork for the DVLA registration in order to get UK plates. This was going to be an adventure, our ‘first’ adventure in Hilma. All the books had been read, information absorbed – gas, water, tyres, bedding, heating, cooking and all the other gazillion and one things that none motorhomers think they need to know.
We had it all worked out:-
- Days 1 & 2
- Transfer money to broker
- Fly to Nuremburg – stay overnight
- a.m. to dealership, view Hilma, confirm everything in order
- Phone approval to broker to release money
- Await funds transfer confirmation
- Leave Hilma at dealership overnight
- Days 3
- a.m. Pay for and collect trade plates from local Motor Vehicle Registration Authority
- p.m. set off for blighty
- Days 4 & 5
- Travel through Germany into France
- Return via ferry
In all that list what could possibly go wrong? Well surprisingly not much on the list. Bundesvan do a great job of getting it to the point where one could theoretically just go and collect, providing you are willing to put up with waiting a few hours for monies to clear, deal with a non-English speaking Turkish German national (in our case) and wait a few hours to get your trade plates (cash only for those). As mentioned, if you are willing to do all that and have a sense of adventure (and a sense of humour), be stoic about everything then I would say ‘go for it’. If you are not the type of person to deal with on the spot changes or minor crisis’, then don’t – just let Bundesvan do all the work for you (chargeable).
All things looking good so far, flights booked, hotel booked and a spring in our step (albeit with some trepidation which is only natural). Right, what next – oh yes, insurance. Ha. This is where it all got a bit sticky, a word of caution to those thinking of a do-it-yourself scenario such as we were planning.The German trade plates cover you for Third Party only, if you are happy to drive something that you have paid for without fire, theft or accident damage then by all means go ahead, weigh up the risks. For us it was a no brainer – it was like taking all that money we had just spent and burning it – the thought of losing it all was just too much. If you are planning to drive back on trade plates, remember – you are only covered for third party.
So we had to arrange some fully comp insurance and pretty quick. Janette spent the next 48 hrs with her ear to the phone trying to sort it out. Think of it from a UK insurers perspective – no UK registration number, only a chassis number, vehicle based in Germany being driven on trade plates…..mmmmm. Well, needless to say we followed all the leads we were given and ended up being quoted £1,000 for 1 week!! Forget it, there was no way we were going to pay that just for the pleasure of driving her home. Talking to Bundesvan highlighted the situation to them and made them aware of an issue with some of the advice being given, basically that insurance for this type of driving is very difficult to obtain, unless like Bundesvan, you are recognised dealers and have specialist cover. So now we had to abandon all that work and leave it in the hands of the professionals (Bundesvan) to bring Hilma to the UK. Needless to say we were pretty down about it. Also remember that any company offering a collection service will have their costs to cover but it still worked out cheaper than the insurers were quoting.
And so finally it happened, we were due to collect her on February 23rd, 2016. Bob and Sue from Bundesvan pulled all the stops out for us and were able to go out the following week and here she is below in all her glory waiting at the ferry terminal at Calais (Spanish bull and all).
Back at Bundesvan base Janette and I are only an hour or so away so we arranged our first visit to see Hilma. Exciting times! Well we were like children at Christmas, despite the setback of not being able to drive her back ourselves we were happy with the decisions we had made, she was a little beauty. Only 46,000 miles on the clock and waiting for more to be put on her – if only we could drive her away now! But of course we couldn’t, well, technically we could have on those German trade plates, but we won’t go over old ground again. We now needed to have her serviced and MOT’d and all the relevent documents sent to DVLA for their stamp of approval and a UK registration number. Over to Sue at Bundesvan who did a great job of keeping us informed and updated as to where everything was. Bob did a fantastic job of showing us all that Hilma had to offer – which of course as newbies we immediately forgot and then had to read the manual about 5 times and learn as we went along (but all that fun was yet to come).