Sunbeam-Powered: 1967 Commer 2500 Camper

This 1967 Commer Camper brings back some vivid childhood memories for me. At one point, the “Clan Clarke” was using an 8-seat version as our family car. As children, we soon learned that you could get away with all sorts of high jinx if you sat near the back of that van. This one is a more traditional camper, and the owner has decided to part with it after 30-years due to declining health. It could be used and enjoyed as it is, or the buyer might choose to give the camper section a bit of a refresh. Located in Portland, Oregon, the Commer has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN has been set at $15,000, but the option is available to make an offer. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Kyle K for spotting this beauty for us.

The Commer is an honest old vehicle that would benefit from a cosmetic refresh. It appears that it is rust-free, with no signs of any significant problems. The owner provides no information on the vehicle’s underside, so prospective buyers might want to perform an inspection to check that all is well. The paint looks tired, and I think it is probably beyond polishing if it is to present perfectly. The rear of the vehicle has been fitted with boxes, and I believe that these are to house a water tank, along with bottles and a heater for the gas hot-water system. The fitting of a pop-top has improved the versatility of the interior. The external trim looks to be in good condition, and I can’t spot any glass issues.

When it was shiny and new in 1967, the Commer would have been powered by a 1,500cc 4-cylinder engine sourced from the Hillman Minx. This would have been hooked to a 4-speed manual transmission. However, the camper has been treated to a heart transplant. The owner describes the drivetrain as being a Sunbeam engine and transmission. I have been trying to ascertain which engine this is, and I haven’t had a lot of luck on that front. Hopefully, one of our knowledgeable readers might be able to shed some light on this. Regardless of which Sunbeam engine is fitted, it is a fair bet that it produces more than the 52hp from the Hillman engine. The owner doesn’t specify how well the vehicle runs or drives, but he emphasizes that it has been carefully maintained.

Life behind the wheel of a Commer was motoring at its most basic. Luxury items were not a consideration, and while it shared a lot of its character traits with other forward-control vans of the era, the Commer did have an advantage in one key area. Steering wheels tended to be very flat, requiring a hunched driving style. This could prove to be uncomfortable on long journeys. These vans had a greater angle on the wheel, making them more comfortable for the driver than most of their competitors. The driver’s compartment of the Commer is quite tidy, with no obvious issues or problems. As you will see in the gallery at the bottom of this article, the rear area is all fitted out for camping, but it could use a refresh. The buyer might choose to strip it out and start afresh. However, some new covers on the cushions and some careful detailing would make a world of difference. This home-away-from-home comes equipped with a decent amount of storage, a gas cooker, and hot and cold water.

If you want to hit the road and experience the great outdoors, then a camper must be a strong candidate for that sort of activity. If you’re going to reach your destination quickly, then a Commer is not an obvious choice. In standard form, they are capable of hitting 70mph. However, that would be stretching the vehicle close to its limits. I believe that the story would be different with this one because the engine upgrade should offer more power to the driver. It still won’t be fast, but it would grab plenty of attention on those journeys. Maybe one of our readers needs to buy it and treat it to a refresh over Winter. Then when the warm weather returns, they can head out for a life of adventure.

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Comments

  1. misterlou Member

    So glad to see Kyle K finding safe harbor here at Barn Finds.

    Like 6
    • Pat L Member

      This is probably his personal RV.

      Like 2
  2. Vegaman Dan

    This looks like it should be from France. The colors, the shapes, the design, all look like it should be under the Citroen name.

    Like 5
  3. greg v

    cool little camper! Just can’t imagine how anemic it must be with a little 4-banger in there though… imagine two adults and two kids plus gear all on top of the weight of the vehicle? Great for small back-roads camping for sure, just wonder how it does on the highway! Maybe a Sunbeam transplant was a good idea… from a Tiger….

    GLWTS

    greg v.

    Like 4
  4. ClassicCarFan

    Just looking on “AROnline” ( which is a great resource for any British postwar models) and they have an article on the Commer (later “Dodge” after Chrysler bought Rootes) “Space Van” which was the commercial vehicle the camper RV was built on. Looks like the engines were originally 1500 and later upgraded to 1725.

    https://www.aronline.co.uk/other-cars/unsung-heros-the-commer-spacevan/

  5. Dwight

    Pretty puzzling engine picture. As a 1967 I would have assumed the then available Series V 1725 cc twin Zenith-Stromberg 93 hp engine. However, the single carb (probably a Solex) might indicate the earlier (1964-1965) Series IV 1492 cc 82 hp Sunbeam engine. Or, it could have been a 1725 cc with a single Weber conversion kit.

  6. Martin Horrocks

    2500 suggests a diesel to me. If Sunbeam it would be a 1725 twin zenith and 80 bhp at best.chassis can handle labout 40bhp safely…..stay away from this and spend the 15000$ in Vegas.

    • Ken

      Oh how I wish this was a diesel!

  7. Patrick Gill

    It probably has a 1725cc engine fitted, same family as the 1500 so straight swop, the Sunbeam overdrive gearbox also fits easily, did a conversion 40 years ago! the front track is very narrow, just looks wrong!

  8. Ron Jordan

    A 1725 would have had a squarish aluminum valve cover. This looks to be an older Sunbeam motor.

  9. K. R. V. Member

    Not very sure how this European style Camper/RV, would be like lumbering around the wide open spaces and bigger roads and highways we have here in America! Even a VW Camper Bus would leave this in its dust!

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