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					                                                                        CARAVAN DESIGN CLUB AWARDS

       UDGED during the opening days of
       February’s National Boat Caravan
       and Outdoor Show, the Club’s
annual Caravan Design Awards reaches its
climax when the winners and runners up
are announced on the Thursday of the
show – the day before Club Day.
   In order for the event to take place at all,
tourer manufacturers and importers are
invited to enter their chosen candidates
into four classes: the first two – split
between two-berth and family layouts –
are for caravans priced less then £14,250;
class three admits any caravan over that
price, while the fourth category is for
tourers with dedicated fixed beds – a
double or two singles.
   This year the judges were again
unanimous in extending a special class
award to the Fifth Wheel Company, on
this occasion for the innovation and design
of its Globestormer.
                                                  CLASS 1 WINNER
   Elsewhere in the competition’s main
                                                  Bailey Senator Vermont
classes, special commendation is deserved
for the entries that were placed just
outside the overall winners and runners           portable wheel lock, and a directional TV       comfortable front dinette with U-shaped
up. The Swift Group found itself in just          aerial. Arizona’s floorplan provides both       seating and a free-standing table. Kitchen
such a position with its Ace Award                front and offside dinettes, the latter          and wardrobe are midships, leaving the
Brightstar, a very well presented                 opposite a well-equipped kitchen, and a         rear to accommodate a fixed double bed
contender in the two-berth class. Clean           well-planned rear washroom.                     and a washroom, which is squeezed into
exterior lines are enhanced by flush-                Bailey’s Series 5 Senators also made it      the adjacent corner.
fitting, aluminium-framed windows and             into third place in the class for any caravan
front and rear moulded panels, the latter         over £14,250 with the twin-axle, six-
featuring a spoiler and high-level brake          berth Carolina. In addition to its versatile    CLASS 1 – two-berth caravans
light. Brightstar’s russet soft furnishings       family floorplan, Carolina shares an            £14,250 and under
create a welcoming interior, while                extensive equipment list with other
equipment includes a 93-litre fridge,             Series 5 Senators, including an infra-red       WINNER
Omnivent extractor and dual-fuel hob.             security alarm, on-board water tank, 104-       Bailey Senator Vermont
   A past winner of the ‘family caravan’          litre fridge, mains microwave, Omnivent         £13,600 ex-works
class, Bailey’s four-berth Senator Arizona        extractor and a fitted radio/CD.                Déjà vu for this Bailey two-berth clubman
was literally pipped into third place this           Third place in the class for caravans        model, which won the class two years ago
year by the narrowest of margins. Listed at       with fixed beds went to Germany’s four-         and was this year again the clear winner
£14,190, the Series 5 Arizona was second          berth Hymer Nova 465. Distinctively             among an entry of eight caravans. In
most expensive in the class, but with a           European and with the door on our               addition to the Vermont’s first place in this
specification that extended to 14in alloy         offside, Nova models are at the top end of      class, sister models Arizona and Carolina
wheels and steel spare, hitch stabiliser and      Hymer’s tourer range. The 465 features a        also made third spot in classes two and

                                                                                                                        APRIL 2006 THE CARAVAN CLUB MAGAZINE 31
                                                                                                                rear washroom that incorporates
                                                                                                                wardrobe storage.
                                                                                                                   Some of the 2006 Amara’s exterior
                                                                                                                features have been covered above in the
                                                                                                                notes on the 450/2, to which should be
                                                                                                                added that floor and insulation thickness
                                                                                                                have been increased, and a full-height door
                                                                                                                screen is now standard. Carried over from
                                                                                                                the previous year are the Al-Ko hitch
                                                                                                                stabiliser, exterior locker, gas point and
                                                                                                                mains socket.
                                                                                                                   Practicality and style are evident in the
                                                                                                                Amara 520/4’s kitchen unit which, in
                                                                                                                addition to providing worktop space, also
                                                                                                                includes a chopping board and attractive
                                                                                                                cream sink/drainer with a matching
                                                                                                                washing-up bowl and glass cover. Storage is
                                                                                                                available in the 81-litre Thetford fridge,
                                                                                                                plus a variety of cupboards, drawers, open
                                                                                                                shelves and lockers.
                    CLASS 2 WINNER
                    Coachman Amara 520/4                                                                        RUNNER UP
                                                                                                                Avondale Argente 550-4
                                                                  carrier. Inside, the clubman 450/2            £13,995 ex-works
                                                                  maintains a feel of luxury allied to          Avondale Coachcraft is no stranger to the
                                                                  practicality, both of which have become       Design Awards podium over the years, this
                                                                  hallmarks of the Coachman brand.              same model having taken the runner-up
                                                                                                                position in this class two years ago. The
                                                                                                                550-4 shares the same layout with the class
                                                                  CLASS 2 – family caravans                     winner, with the exception that the
                                                                  £14,250 and under                             Argente is also available with L-shaped
                                                                                                                front dinette seating.
                                                                  Coachman Amara 520/4
                                                                  £13,195 ex-works                              CLASS 3 – any caravan
                   three, perhaps justifying Bailey’s decision    The judging panel may have changed from       over £14,250
                   not to enter its more budget Rangers in        last year, but it’s the same caravan that
                   this year’s event.                             again takes the honours in this class for     WINNER
                      As a consequence, however, the              family caravans. Coachman is to be            Knaus Starclass 560
                   Senator Vermont was the most expensive         congratulated on its consistency.             £15,995 ex-works
                   model in the class and some £1300 dearer          It should come as no surprise that the     I can well imagine that a few eyebrows
                   than the second-placed Coachman Amara          winning formula in terms of layout derives    were raised at the announcement of the
                   450/2 – also the class runner up in 2004.      from the Amara 520/4’s popular ‘side-         winner in this ‘open’ class. Not among the
                   It’s a factor to which customers might well    dinette’ floorplan. This provides a main      judges, though, and certainly not among
                   wish to give due consideration.                dinette up front with parallel settees,       the two technical researchers. Both had
                      Longer and slightly wider than the          centre nearside kitchen opposite a second     been impressed by the thoroughness with
                   Amara, the Vermont offers that bit more        dinette with single seats, and a full-width   which both the manufacturer and
                   interior space, though both share the same
                   basic floorplan. The Series 5 Vermont also
                   scores on the ‘kit-count’, including among      CLASS 3 WINNER
                   other things a spare wheel, Al-Ko wheel         Knaus Starclass 560
                   lock and jack.
                      The latest Vermont also features a one-
                   piece door with a sliding window, while
                   the interior is protected by an infra-red
                   alarm. Kitchen equipment includes a
                   Dometic 104-litre fridge with a full-width
                   freezer, plus an Omnivent extractor in the
                   roof. Also standard is a radio/CD with a
                   removable facia.

                   RUNNER UP
                   Coachman Amara 450/2
                   £12,295 ex-works
                   New styling and graphics give a lift to this
                   year’s Amara exteriors, while other
                   advances to the spec include 14in alloy
                   wheels and a chassis-mounted spare wheel

32 THE CARAVAN CLUB MAGAZINE                                                                                           
importer had acquired NCC approval for
a range of caravans designed for the
British market.
   The four-berth Starclass 560’s styling
looks European and yet it has a three-bay
front and the door is on our nearside. The
interior also has strong Continental design
features and yet its layout is one of the most
popular on the British tourer market: the
side dinette, as featured in both the winner
and runner up in the family caravan class.
   Equipment apart – and the Starclass
560 lacks for very little – the features that
won approval from the judges were its
stylish design and build quality. Cupboard
and locker doors have a solid feel and
positive catches; furniture design manages
to include more stylish curves and
radiused lines to give a softer feel to the
   However, the Starclass may well be
heavier than the equivalent British caravan.
The 560’s vital statistics are
                                                                                                  CLASS 4 WINNER
1550kg/1800kg ex-works/MTPLM,
                                                                                                  Knaus Starclass 550
compared with the slightly shorter Bailey
Senator Arizona’s 1248kg/1500kg.
                                                 heating and water heating are by Truma
RUNNER UP                                        and pretty much the same as the British
Coachman VIP 520/4                               industry is fitting, so no difference there.
£15,995 ex-works                                    Exterior features include alloy wheels,
The proliferation of side dinette layouts        under-chassis spare (steel) wheel, easy-
among this year’s class leaders is further       action gas locker lid and an Al-Ko hitch
extended by the VIP 520/4, which came a          stabiliser, plus a gas barbecue point, two
close-ish second to the Knaus. A host of         Heki sunroofs, a dedicated battery box and
exterior and interior upgrades and               separate wet locker.
refinements, plus the company’s
reputation for quality and practicality, will    RUNNER UP
no doubt see models from the VIP range           Voyager Vector 650
included on many a shortlist.                    £25,000 ex-works                                                          Strong and certainly aerodynamic, the
                                                 Cheltenham Laminates, the company that                                  Vector also offers a spacious interior. From
                                                 makes the GRP monocoque bodies for                                      my perspective the seating and kitchen
CLASS 4 – any dedicated                          Auto-Sleepers, is responsible for the                                   unit looked on the low side of ideal, though
bed caravan                                      stylishly futuristic Voyager Vector, shown                              the manufacturer says amendments can be
                                                 on the Barrons’ stand.                                                  made to production models.
Knaus Starclass 550
£16,845 ex-works                                   SPECIAL CLASS AWARD
For ‘dedicated’ read fixed bed(s) –
whether two singles or a double is of no           WINNER
matter. The class attracted the biggest            Fifth Wheel Company Globestormer
entry of 14 caravans, of which four were           £32,000 ex works*
from Continental manufacturers and the             This latest fifth-wheel caravan is marginally smaller and lighter,
remainder the cream of our domestic                and a bit less expensive than the manufacturer’s original Celtic
industry.                                          Rambler. The quoted price of £32,000 ex-works was for models
   The four-berth Starclass 550 took the           similar to the prototype seen at the show, but the exact price
class basically on the same grounds that its       would depend on the customer’s choice of fixtures and fittings.
stablemate won the open class: build                  The Globestormer retains just about all the features of its
quality and stylish, practical design.             bigger brother: underfloor heating, electric slide-out dinette
Again, the 550 is built and equipped               extension, separate toilet and shower compartments, and a fixed
specifically to appeal to British                  double bed up front. Dinette seating converts to a second double
caravanners looking for Continental                                                         bed, while the transverse
styling, allied to fittings and appliances                                                  rear settee can be
with which they feel more at home.                                                          optionally designed to
   The kitchen unit, for example, comes                                                     provide a pair of bunk
with a 105-litre Dometic fridge, Spinflo                                                    beds or full-width
stainless steel sink and drainer, and a four-                                               storage with exterior
burner hob/grill from the same British                                                      access from either side.
manufacturer. Though German, interior

                                                                                                                        APRIL 2006 THE CARAVAN CLUB MAGAZINE 33

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