1990 Citroen C15 Autostar Is a Tiny Home on Wheels and the Last of Its Kind

When talking about classic RVs, we usually think about Winnebagos, the GMC Motorhome, and aluminum-bodied Airstreams. But the market is much bigger than that and it includes an impressive number of compact campers.
1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome 16 photos
Photo: Mathieu Horren/YouTube
1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome
Why am I talking about compact RVs? Well, they might not be as roomy and comfortable as the big ones, but not everyone has the means to buy a full-size RV. Not to mention that storing and maintaining one can also be a hassle.

But can you actually spend several days in an old and tiny camper? Can a car-based RV provide appropriate sleeping accommodations and does it have enough room for everything you need for off-the-grid living? Well, the Citroen C15 Autostar you see here is surprisingly welcoming given that it's built on the platform of a European supermini.

If you're not familiar with the C15, it's the predecessor to the more iconic Citroen Berlingo, now in its third generation. It shares underpinnings with the Peugeot Partner and Opel Combo. In 2022, Stellantis rolled out a brand-new Fiat Doblo on the same platform. In short, the C15 is a small panel van.

Introduced in 1984 as a replacement for the extremely dated Acadiane, the C15 remained in production for a whopping 21 years, spawning almost 1.2 million units. The tiny van was based on the Citroen Visa, a supermini launched in 1978 and discontinued 10 years later.

1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome
Photo: Mathieu Horren/YouTube
Slotted under the C25 full-size van in the lineup, the C15 had a lengthened wheelbase and a sturdier rear axle that enabled it to brag about a gross vehicle weight rating of 1,500 kg (3,310 pounds). Citroen never considered a camper version of the tiny panel van, but at least two RV companies provided conversions. One was Romahome and the other one was Autostar.

The camper you see here was built by Autostar, which introduced its C15 RV in the early 1990s. There are no specific records as to how many were built, but they're pretty scarce nowadays. And this Autostar isn't a run-of-the-mill C15 camper either. It's a Dangel 4x4 variant, one of only three ever built. It's also the only one known to exist, so it's pretty much a unique vehicle. And amazingly enough, it looks and runs like new and its owner is still enjoying its four-wheel-drive system and camper features on the unbeaten path.

Essentially a single-cab Visa with a big box behind the front seats, the C15 looks too tiny for off-the-grid living on the outside. But it all changes once you get inside thanks to Autostar's smart packaging. Fitted with a split, camper-style door at the rear, the cabin is fully equipped and includes everything from a cooker stove and sink to cupboards and seats that turn into a large bed.

The sink and the stove flank the rear exit of the camper and sit atop a custom-made cupboard and a compact fridge, respectively. The sink, which comes with a 30-liter tank, also hides a small clothes hanger area behind it. The roof is also high enough to provide enough room to stand while washing dishes or cooking, which is something you don't get in many vintage compact campers.

1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome
Photo: Mathieu Horren/YouTube
While many RVs of this configuration come with a sleeping area above the cabin, this C15 has a couple of cupboards instead. The owner uses them for blankets and sheets. So how do you sleep in this French motorhome? Well, the couch-like twin seats mounted on each side of the camper extend to cover the center section and form a wall-to-wall bed. And it looks like two people could sleep comfortably in there.

The couches hide more storage room underneath, while the foldable blinds provide privacy when needed. The camper was also fitted with mosquito nets should the owner want to enjoy the summer breeze at night.

Where's the kitchen area, you ask? Well, there's a foldable table right between the mini couches. Yes, it becomes unusable when the full-size bed is in place, but there's also a foldable shelf integrated into the sink cupboard. Yup, breakfast in bed is definitely doable.

On the flip side, there's one important thing this camper is missing: the bathroom. But let's face it, there's absolutely no way you can cram a toilet and a shower into a vehicle that's barely four meters (157 inches) long. There are ways around that though, and besides, you get cool rainbows on the seats and the walls. Yup, that's a factory feature right there.

1990 Citroen C15 Autostar motorhome
Photo: Mathieu Horren/YouTube
The roof, which includes a ventilation system and carries a spare tire, also incorporates a roller awning. It's rather small, but it provides cover (from sunlight or rain) for a small table and a couple of folding chairs.

But what about power? Is the C15 potent enough to drag its heavy camper shell up the hill? Well, Citroen sourced two of the most powerful engines available in the Visa at the time. The lineup included a 1.1-liter gasoline inline-four rated at 47 horsepower and a 1.8-liter four-cylinder diesel good for 60 horses. This Autostar is fitted with the latter.

Granted, it's far from impressive by modern standards and the owner jokes about the camper needing about four minutes to hit 62 mph (100 kph) from a standing start, but it has just enough oomph to travel at decent speeds. And thanks to its 4x4 layout, it can also tackle moderately rough terrain.

But the really cool thing about this C15 is that it still travels the country, despite being more than 30 years old as of 2023. Find out more about this tiny and unique motorhome in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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