As PetrolBlog’s vehicle purchases go, the Tabbert FFB Classic 570 is probably one of the most bizarre. It’s certainly the biggest. Not to mention the beigist. But it’s the newest member of the fleet, so it needs an introduction.
Where to start? Well, beneath that sleek and aerodynamic body lies the chassis and the beating heart of a 2.5-litre turbodiesel Fiat Ducato. I always dreamed of driving something Italian, but I never expected it to look quite this beige.
It’s not all Italian. In 1991, the running gear was shipped to Germany, where, in a transformation good enough for Stars in Their Eyes, it was turned into the beautiful and majestic FFB Classic 570. Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Herr Beige.
It’s a pretty rubbish name. While other motorhomes and campers have evocative names like Chateau, Four Winds, Siesta, Thor, Palazzo and Daenerys Targaryen (probably), we’re left with something that sounds like a tumble dryer.
Six weeks ago, the idea of owning a motorhome hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was more likely to take up fell running or appear on Love Island than I was becoming a motorhomist. So why is there a huge slice of beige towering over the rest of the PetrolBlog fleet?
You can blame a Bedford Rascal Bambi for the spark of inspiration. Having seen one for sale, our thoughts turned to touring the post-Brexit wastelands in our own fun-size RV, occasionally stopping off for some Walter White-style cooking.
But having realised that it’s quite hard to sleep when only your left leg will fit in the vehicle, we considered the larger Talbot Express. When you’re at the PetrolBlog end of the market, these things seem to represent the best value for money, and many have been snapped up by youthful trendsetters under the age of 80.
I’ve always wanted a Talbot, although a Tagora V6 SX would have been preferable to an Express campervan.
Cutting a worryingly short story short – not to mention an almost complete lack of research – we chanced upon an FFB Classic 570 for sale on eBay. “The Rolls-Royce of motorhomes”, proclaimed the ad, a statement backed up by at least one other source.
Quite which model of Rolls-Royce they are referring to is anyone’s guess, although the FFB Classic 570 is certainly prettier than a Cullinan. Maybe they were thinking about the Mr Snax mobile catering van that turns up at the Goodwood factory once a day.
I believe the comparison is a reference to the quality of the workmanship because the living accommodation is a class above an MFI kitchen from the early 90s. Proper solid wood furniture that is well screwed together and superbly finished. Sadly, I’m yet to find any cardboard TVs or HiFi units.
Tabbert reportedly lost money on every FFB Classic 570 or the longer 660 it sold – the company wanted to prove that it was more than a match for rival Hymer.
As for the price, I believe it would have cost around 55,000 Deutschmarks in 1991, but I’m still researching the history of the company and the FFB Classics. If you have some info, do get in touch.
What else can I tell you in this brief introduction? It sits on air suspension, so the ride quality is surprisingly good, bordering on brilliant. It also has lights at the top of the front and rear ends, so I feel like a proper HGV driver.
There are three speeds: slow, goddamn slow, and are… we… going… to… reach… the… top… of… this… hill slow.
There are also three noise levels: noisy, goddamn noisy and why-are-my-ears-bleeding noisy.
But it’s a joy to drive. Because every narrow section of road and slight incline requires you to make minor adjustments, you have to concentrate all of the time. It also has a column gearchange, which is incredibly satisfying to use. I actually look forward to driving this thing.
There also cool things on board, like four beds, a shower, a toilet, a fridge, a hob, a heater, a sink, an outside awning and a… ooh, ooh, am I starting to sound like an excitable child?
Sure, the soft furnishings look like they have been taken from a Soviet-era bus station waiting room, but it’s nothing that can’t be modernised.
Look, I won’t bore you with the details, as you can watch the video instead. “Hey guys, don’t forget to like and subscribe, etc, etc.”
But please say a big welcome to ‘Erika’ (don’t ask – just watch the video), and stay tuned for future adventures as this novice motorhomist gets to grips with life on the open road and sleeping beneath the stars.
Actually, sleeping beneath the stars would be a bad thing, because it would mean that the fibreglass roof has blown away, but you get the idea.
I always thought the Box of Frogs was the craziest thing I have ever bought, but the very beige FFB Classic 570 might have taken the hobnob.