Herald grew out of the demise of the Poole based manufacturer Autohomes. Herald itself was taken over by Compass in 1996, who then transferred production to County Durham. The Valencia was based on Ford’s special motorhome chassis, powered by a 2.5 litre diesel engine. The low framed chassis offered a low floor level and a wide rear track. The body was uniquely mounted on neoprene buffers, which effectively eliminated creaks and groans and offered a smooth ride. The motorhome was quality built with cabinetry built to a high standard and boasting a fabric covered ceiling and concealed lighting above the cabinets. The Valencia featured a large U-shaped end lounge, which converted into a huge double bed, a well designed kitchen area and a fully lined bathroom.
We have had caravans in the past but I was never comfortable with towing. Being hypersensitive to movement, every twitch of the caravan was amplified and I would be a nervous wreck by the time we’d got o our destination. I had always dreamed of owning a motorhome so in late 2010 we started looking seriously for our dream vehicle. Our previous caravan had an end lounge, which was ideal for us.
We set about looking for something with a layout as close as possible to that. By mid 2011 and after what seemed like endless visits to dealers I spotted a Herald Valencia for sale on e-bay. It seemed to be just what we were looking for. Even better it just less than 5 miles away. The motorhome had several previous owners but was in excellent condition and relatively low mileage for the year. The deal was done and within a week we were the proud owners of Valerie, a 1999 Herald Valencia. The motorhome was designed as a two-berth but with the optional over-cab bed, described as an alternative sleeping area. It soon became apparent that the over-cab was only suitable for small children to sleep in (I only managed to get up there the once) and it tended to get used as extra storage. The motorhome was in excellent condition, although we did a couple of minor repairs and alterations. Some of the concealed lighting didn’t work.
This proved to be loose wiring. A broken flyscreen on a roof vent was replaced and we added a new flat-screen TV. A microwave was installed (which meant a cupboard needed to be altered) and we replaced the factory fitted radio with a flip-up DVD player and Sat Nav unit. There was a little rust spot on the cab door, just below the quarter light, which was also repaired. Cosmetically, I changed the amber indicator lenses with clear lenses, which updated the look of the cab.
Valerie served us well for a year, serving as accommodation at several car shows as well as short holidays, but it became apparent that the layout wasn’t ideal for us after all. The over cab was unusable and the bed, although large, was a pain to get ready each night. Also I’d become confident driving the motorhome and felt that a larger model would suit us better. The search was on.