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A Brief History - In the beginning...
Leisuredrive began almost by accident, in the spring of 1968. Having recently left technical engineering collage, my father (knowing I was of practical nature) asked me to convert an old ambulance into a Motorcaravan for himself and my mother to go away in at weekends.
In September he decided to sell it. One advert saw people "fighting" to buy it! Thats when we thought, 'there is a future in this'!
Over the winter we built five Motorcaravans to sell next spring, we kept them in the back entry, but the police came to and made us move them, so we were forced to find temporary premises. In April 1969 we opened up, firstly calling ourselves carahome (Carry – a home) but soon bagen to trade as Manchester Motor caravan company.
(The rest they say is History)....
After a succession of temporary premises, including a pertol station in droylsden manchester where we successfully launched our new Commer Motorcaravan £1,195 on the road. And our new V/W Motorcaravan £1,295 on the road.
In 1974 we finally settled in some premises at Dulwich street Manchester.
Between 1974 and 1980 was a great period of expansion and the period when the design and manufacture of leisuredrive elevating roofs and Hi-Tops came into being. This was also the period that many of todays key members of staff (as school leavers then) joined the company.
Favourite base vans of the time were the V/W T2 (The clipper) Bedford CF and of course the Commer.
1980 saw the introduction of the V/W T3 (or T25) this vehicle was immediatly seen as a winner and soon a streamlined Hi-Top and full size side lift elevating roof were designed to complement the newly named Crusader Conversion.
Between 1980 & 1982 we had a little forry into coachbuilts on Ford Transit base, although the design and build was brilliant, we soon realised they weren't financially viable as one offs.
1982 saw the retirement of my father. Shortly after this, i had a new idea and introduced (the Split Conversion package). Unique and brilliant, but much copied, but never perfected aswell as by leisuredrive.
Then one of my loyal staff suggested a more modern name hence the leisuredrive name was born.
A van gaining great popularity in the late 80's was the Renault Traffic, a very compact, reasonably priced, yet modern vehicle.
leisuredrive soon took this vehicle to her bosom (as you might say) and produced one of the nicest looking motorcaravans of this era.
The Renault Renior, the layout was the forerunner of today’s Plan A.
Wow a revolution! V/W introduced the T4 in 1990, I'm invited to the launch at Birmingham and I am impressed!
At last a V/W without the engine hump in the rear.
A clear floor area means a new layout to me, whilst developing a new Hi-Top and Elevating roof we set to work designing a new sister conversion to the now famous Crusader.
Thetford had just brought out a new compact swivelling cassette toilet and this added the icing to the cake, the "Vivante" is born!
Exhibiting at the Stratford Upon Avon, it is chosen as, and wins Motorcaravan of the year 1995.
Another important milestone at this time, was the granting by V/W to leisuredrive of conversion reconigtion status.
During the late 90's both Plan A (Vivante style) with swivelling toilet and Plan B (crusader style) were introduced on the new (Euro van, (Peugeot / Fiat / Citroen base).
These conversions were also introduced to the new Ford Transit in 1999.
The arrival of the new millenium meant another move for leisuredrive, as our existing premises were demolised to make way for new city centre developments (what else).
We moved to what we thought were temporary premises and then spent four years seeking better.
In late 2004 we found a superb workshop building and display site at Kearlsey (near Bolton) xmas 2004 saw us all working during the break to open up in jan 2005 at our new premises we think it was worth all the hard work.... Come and visit us and see if you agree!
Whoops! in all that talk about our move i almost forgot 2004, our 35th anniversary V/W introduced the long awaited T5. A phone call in Feb 2004 from a customer of ours, called Maureen soon prompted our T5 development ( sorry maureen we've not finished developing our conversion of the T5) ('well i want one now', a new V/W T5 Vivante'.)
Boy! did we get to work.....
Maureen was about to have her 4th motorcaravan from leisuredrive, Maureen has a guest house in the Scottish islands and wanted to get away in her new leisuredrive before her season started in May.
Could we have a better tester for the new Vivante, Maureen, amongst many others later wrote to leisuredrive and expressed her delight in her new Motorcaravan.
2009 sees my 40th Anniversary, as company chairman i am in semi-retirement, although still fondly watching over my (baby) and actively involved in new design and improvement to existing models (constant improvement) as always been the leisuredrive policy. The company reins are firmly in the hands of Jennifer Seddon (Managaing Director).
And of our wonderful staff, several have been us over 25 years and 3 namely Paul Hewitt, barry Roberts and steve latchford over 30 years. I believe this continuity by between my staff and myself for all these years has lead to the brilliance and excellence oif the design and manufacture of the leisuredrive product, also assisted by the fact that from the chairman down we are all avid motorcaravan users and enthusiasts, which in my opinion assists greatly with the perfection and practicality of our Motorcaravans. This is confirmed by the number of returned customers we have and wall full of thank you letters from
Who could have seen this in that spring of 1968!
We are all very proud of the leisuredrive product and believe you will be too.
Thank you to all customers past and present who keep coming back to leisuredrive......
Leisuredrive in -prep for new 2012 regulations, leisuredrive became members of status in 2011. status is a division of manchester university which deals with all forms of vehicle adaptation and crash testing, they work closely with vosa and the government.
Through status Leisuredrive have had all their seating and seat belt mounting points approved to comply, they have also worked closely with Bebb beds in the design and uniquely (in-vehicle crash testing) (not sled tested) of a rock and roll pull out bed with integrated seat belts. Which was loosely designed on Leisuredrive seat/pull out bed principle.
Leisuredrive have also made sure that they comply with all the latest regulations concerning gas and electric's and every other relevant item of the 2012 regulations.
Their current Crusader and Vivante models have been IVA passed and tested and they are currently in progress with their small series application in conjunction with status and agreements by VAG uk.
As NCC members leisuredrive models are also under NCC inspection (the most prestigious badge that can be applied to any campervan today concerning safety).
2015 - THE STORY CONTINUES
This year we take the empty unit at the back of us, knock through and double our workspace. We move the fibreglass department into here this allowing us to double out build and production are in the front workshop. We also open and much needed PDI and Aftersales department in the rear workshop. Much better all round.
More progress this year as we develop and introduce campervans on the new Ford Transit custom range.
Never mind small series, we decide to go the "WHOLE HOG" and go for "EWVTA" (European Whole Vehicle Type Approval) a massive project requiring many processes including ISO 9001 and new Crash Testings.
Boy this keeps us busy!
A very busy year development and design of the the new V/W Crafter "Artesano" – a natural progression for our customers wanting a bigger campervan. We set out to make it the best available on the market and sincerely beleive it is! It's also the build up to our 50th Anniversary year 2019 when my father and I actually started making and selling campervans... to be continued.
P.S. Don't kmow what happened to (semi) retirement... working harder and more interested than ever.
Leisuredrive Campervans LTD
4 Fishbrook Estate
Company no. 03324218
VAT REG. NO. 704 0066 84
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