The Austin Maestro Tandy Campervan

Tandy camper

This campervan is based on a 1275cc petrol Austin Maestro 500L van, first used in March 1987. It was converted by Tandy, a firm that was based in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

It came into our lives on 8th October 2003. We had seen it for sale by the busy A64 in Rillington, North Yorkshire, but did not realise it was for us until we had reached home 50 miles away. It has proved a reliable, cheap to run second car with the added advantage of it becoming our home from home. There's no problem in multi-storey or supermarket car parks, yet there's an incredible amount of room for all the shopping. It was bought in a good original condition except for the sills and wheel arches which were replaced in May 2005.

Originally the Maestro Tandy van was introduced in 1986 . The basic Maestro van shape was retained but a higher roof was added. It did not allow standing inside but increased the headroom considerably and allowed a view out of the long top windows. Also the roof made it look a little less van-like although it was still only 6ft 4 in height including the roof vent. The windows were double glazed in tinted acrylic with curtains to match the brown and cream tartan upholstery.

Interior of Tandy Camper

The layout is ingenious in such a confined space. There is a transverse rear bench seat that can face forward to accommodate two passengers, or backwards to corner with the longitudinal seat. Both benches have a lot of storage room beneath . On the other side of the gangway is a cooker with two rings and a grill, a sink with piped water, a wardrobe (!) and ample storage for food, pans and dishes. The sink in the work surface next to the cooker simply drains to the ground and has a useful wire basket. Forward of the work surface is a cupboard containing the gas cylinder and the water tank. The gas supplies both the cooker and a flameless heater by the back door.

There are plenty of cubby holes over the bench seat and along the sides of the roof for books, games, clock, radio, pocket TV etc. There is a bag for the additional curtains which fit across the top and cab windows with Velcro. The flaps from the seat bases let down to form a very comfortable double bed, simple and very easy to organise.

Interior of Tandy Camper

There was a table which stands on a screw-in leg in the gangway, but we decided very early on that it was in the way and not at the right height to use comfortably, so we leave it at home and use lap trays instead. The chef finds it easier to stand up at the back door to cook and has latterly been saved from the elements by the acquisition of an awning. The awning, the size of a largish tent, was a very useful buy as it provides much more privacy and space. The back doors of the van can be left open at night for ventilation and we can decant any bags into the awning to make more space inside. At a campsite we can drive out for an evening meal, leaving behind the awning containing bicycles and luggage, and still keep our pitch.

We have now sadly sold this campervan and now run a yellow Renault 4 called Ermintrude - you can out more about her history at Ermintrude the Renault 4 - Restoration