offers 0

1972 Commer PB Autohome by Caravans International


  • Rare motor-caravan conversion
  • Substantial mechanical work completed during 2017
  • Sleeps a family of four
  • Fully equipped to function as a true home from home

The Appeal

Britain is an island of many proud and ancient traditions, not least of which is the noble caravan holiday. Indeed, the earliest historical record of a holiday by caravan was that undertaken in 1883 by the two sons of the Earl of Essex, who travelled North Wales as ‘gentleman gypsies’. The first purpose-built pleasure caravan was built the following year for Berkshire-domiciled adventure writer Dr. William Stables, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Those early caravans were horse-drawn, but it was inevitable that caravanning would soon embrace the other kind of horsepower. As motor travel became more affordable and the invention of fibreglass brought new possibilities, by the 1950s and ’60s the caravan industry was booming; it offered freedom of a kind few people had previously been able to experience and, though the simple fibreglass structures were a world apart from the ornate wooden waggons used by the Victorians, the romance of the nomadic life was as powerful as ever.

In the 1960s, perhaps Britain’s golden age of motor-caravanning, any small van was fair game for a conversion, and without doubt one of the most popular subjects for the caravan treatment was the Commer PB. Praised by Motor for its ‘long-lasting engine’, ‘well-insulated compartment’ and ‘reasonably light’ controls, its appeal requires no further explanation.

There were at least a dozen major firms making the caravan bodies, one of the most prolific being Caravans International of Poole, which offered two popular bodies for the PB, the Bluebird Wanderer and Bluebird Highwayman, in the 1960s, before introducing an all-new design in the early ’70s: the Autohome.

A number of Commer Autohomes are still enjoyed by their owners, on camping holidays as well as at transport rallies, and because of their close relationship with the Rootes Group’s passenger cars, parts availability and club support is excellent. A more affordable and, we think, more interesting alternative to Volkswagens, there’s surely no better way of enjoying summer than with a Commer like this and the open road stretching out before you.

4UAgaQdQOviii5IGzzgm6oTCadwir3a3CmTmN7mK.jpg 775.93 KB

The History and Paperwork

  • Originally registered in Leicestershire on 13th November 1972
  • Earliest recorded owner is John David Beck of Leicester, who owned it from August 1989 to May 1990
  • Some renovation work completed during 2017
  • Bought by the present owner in 2021 with a view to further renovating it to her own tastes, a new job meant that she has not had the time
  • Sold with the current V5, intermittent ownership history back to 1989 including correspondence from past owners, photographs of the Commer in an earlier colour scheme, some past MoT certificates and a large collection of invoices mostly dating from 2014 to 2017

The Interior

  • Benches will seat eight people or convert into a double bed
  • Additional sleeping space over the cab
  • Very well-stocked with camping necessities such as an oven and shower
  • Some modern luxuries including a television and microwave

The Commer is, in essence, a converted van, so the driver’s cabin is naturally rather basic. Even so, it is not without certain little luxuries which will be appreciated on long-distance tours, such as cup holders, a modern Aoveise AV252B radio and MP3 player, and Shuchao interior fans.

Those little upgrades aside, the cabin seems nicely original, and nothing pleases us more than to see the oh-so ’70s brown vinyl seats. Still in their original vinyl, they sport a lovely patina and remain in generally very good condition. Unfortunately, there are tears in both side panels of the driver’s seat, but provided one treats them with care the seats should still last a long time.

The plastic dash and steering wheel are suitably minimalist and also in very nice condition, again with an attractive patina. The headlining appears in good order – we did not observe any tears or sagging – and some modern rubber mats ensure the floor remains clean. A look at the roof panel reveals a hole where a courtesy light out to be, but we also find a beautifully aged RAC road signs chart from the 1970s, which lends the interior the sort of charm no modern vehicle could replicate.

The living space transports us back to a time when David Cassidy topped the charts and corduroy flares were the height of fashion. Although it has been subtly altered and modernised over time to reflect the tastes of different owners, it still has an unmistakeably retro feel. What could be more ’70s than the brown check moquette benches and the parquet linoleum flooring? The radiused rungs of the bunk-bed ladder are very late Space Age – it could have been lifted out of the starship Enterprise.

Appearances aside, those campers who don’t like to feel too far removed from the modern world will appreciate the fact that the Commer now boasts a microwave and television, in addition to expected features like the oven and shower.

Everything appears in good order, although we obviously have not been able to test the shower or any of the electrical equipment to confirm if it works. Cosmetically, bidders may bear in mind that the seller had bought it to refurbish, so some areas may benefit from a bit of a spruce-up or finishing off. The vendor advises that some stains in the ceiling were caused by a leak which has now been repaired.

ACuLMpz3RCMAmT9mV5i2cqKdCTlcoAKDxksnXmY8.jpg 742.38 KB

The Exterior

  • Charmingly presented in a jaunty bespoke colour scheme
  • Caravan body appears in good all-round condition
  • Sold with an awning extension for extra living space

As we’ve seen, the Commer’s appearance has changed gradually over time as new owners have put their own personal mark on it. The present colour scheme of sky blue and white has been applied at some point in the last 20 years, though it’s very much the sort of scheme which was in vogue when it was new. A close look at the surface suggests that it may have been hand-painted, lending it a certain jauntiness and a charmingly personal quality.

The whole vehicle is characterised by a very attractive patina throughout – the paintwork, chrome and all the other fixtures and fittings all look far more characterful than if they were restored and obsessively polished. Such as it is, it has the appearance of an old family friend who has been around, seen some sights, and has some tales to tell.

We noticed that some corrosion is in evidence around the sills and door bottoms, and bidders would be advised to keep an eye on that, but the overall condition is very pleasing. As far as we could see, the chassis rails seem sound and the floors look very good, with no obvious repair sections. In short, we can’t see any reason for not hitting the road and heading on an adventure as soon as the sun comes out.

dLl1Qi4Sx5JuNJXEfqYAuqnzpzYlSbHIdHaILkX7.jpg 667.5 KB

 The Mechanics

  • Runs and drives very nicely
  • Electric fan for improved cooling
  • Last MoTed in 2017
  • Brakes overhauled in 2017
  • New battery in 2021

Prior to our inspecting the car, the vendor advised that it had not been run for about a year, but with some fresh fuel in the tank and a ‘pretty please’, it fired up most obligingly and proceeded to run faultlessly. Idling happily and pulling away smoothly, we were most impressed with it.

The 1725cc Rootes engine is famously solid and robust, and is widely praised by enthusiasts as ‘bombproof’. It’s not surprising, then, that it seems in such good health. We believe it to be completely standard save for the helpful addition of an electric fan, which appears to do its job well as the Commer was able to idle for extended periods without getting hot.

Rootes gearboxes were also very solidly built, requiring firm and decisive operation. This, combined with the Commer’s ‘magic wand’ gearstick, can result in a slightly agricultural feel, but it is essentially a commercial vehicle. What’s important is that the gearbox is hardy and long-lasting, and so far as those qualities are concerned we have absolutely no doubts. Simply put, the gearbox feels exactly as it should do, there is no whining from any gear, and it ought to be good for many, many miles to come.

The brakes proved most satisfactory, with the Commer pulling up sharply on command. This isn’t surprising, considering work completed in 2017 included a brake overhaul with new master cylinder, wheel cylinders and shoes. Additional work included welding the offside rear spring mounting and the offside front chassis outrigger. The vendor fitted a new battery shortly after purchase.

T3sJl0YvDifihOO1IPs4cTueXyJ3eLaWI6iMoX9v.jpg 907.19 KB

The Summary

Summer is coming and so is the sunshine, and this Commer is the perfect vehicle with which to enjoy it. Who needs to be herded round on a package holiday or burning to a crisp on some exotic beach when there’s so much to discover just a few miles from home? With the Commer, the adventure begins the second you get off your driveway.

It’s a lovely vehicle in so many ways, and to step into it is to travel back to a simpler, more innocent time. Like the ubiquitous Volkswagen, it stands for freedom, spontaneity and good old-fashioned family fun, but the Commer is so much rarer and more budget-friendly. As we’ve seen, there are areas where it might benefit from being spruced up, but you can start to put your own personal touches on it when autumn descends – for now, the winding road beckons.

I have read, understood and agree to the Car & Classic Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy
Vehicle specification
  • Year 1972
  • Make Commer
  • Model PB Autohome
  • Colour White/Blue
  • Odometer 62,142 Miles
  • Engine size 1725
Listing Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Bromley
  • Location Kent
  • Country United Kingdom

The Gallery

The safest way to buy a classic car online

Car & Classic's secure payment system protects buyers and sellers. At the end of the auction, the winning bidder transfers payment into a third-party escrow account. Once the transfer of the vehicle is complete, both parties confirm they are happy with the sale and the money is released to the seller.
Safe, secure payment process

Make an offer

This seller is open to offers. Enter the amount you’d like to pay and if your offer is accepted, a member of the team will be in touch.

Under offer

This seller has accepted an offer.

Click the star to watch the listing and keep an eye on it in the favourites section of your account, or search for something similar.