Germany and Unicat.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany.In Germany we followed part of the "Romantic Road" visiting Oberammergau, Schloss Neuschwanstein, Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and the splendid old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

All very pretty and, with the exception of Neuschwanstein, relatively tourist-free at this time of year.

I was particularly pleased to see a notice in a fine old building in Rothenburg regretting the very recent closure of the establishment (a McDonald's restaurant). Alas the neighboring shop selling genuine Scottish souvenirs and even those selling cuddly toys and $250, two metre long broadswords seemed to be thriving. As far as I could judge the majority of tourists were Japanese. Luckily none of them seemed to have an immediate need of a sword.

Unicat's new building at Dettenheim.After Rothenburg we visited the campervan builder Unicat at Dettenheim.

Like Action Mobil in Austria, Unicat build splendid "expedition vehicles" that range from the merely impressive to the stupendous. There are many similarities and some interesting differences between Unicat and Action Mobil.

If you confine your interest to new, "sensible," round-the-world "campervans" then both companies have effectively abandoned Mercedes Unimogs (and Duros) as base vehicles and now exclusively use the 10 and 14 tonne MAN 4x4 truck, often de-rated to 7.5 tonnes.

Both companies hand build their bodies from 60mm foam/GRP panels. Both companies mount their bodies on the MAN chassis with a "three point" mounting similar to the one provided by Mercedes for the Unimog. Both companies take 12 to 24 months to deliver a bespoke vehicle. Both companies are managed by enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced men who inspire confidence.

Where Unicat and Action Mobil differ is in size, standardization and style. Unicat are a significantly larger company than Action Mobil. Whereas everything Action Mobile do is totally bespoke some of Unicat's products are now modular and "semi-standard". These products, sold under the brand name Terra Cross, offer most of the advantages of a bespoke Unicat vehicle but with significantly lower cost and shorter delivery time. As for style (and this is a very personal matter) I find Action Mobil's vehicles score slightly higher on the "lust after" scale.

A "picnic" spot sign from Luxemburg for your ever expanding collection!

Stephen Stewart.

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