Andy Jenkinson

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Continental style sets this caravan apart from other UK brands, so Andy Jenkinson gives advice on how to find the best Sterling Europa caravans for sale

The Sterling Europa was Swift Group’s trendy portfolio of tourers. It slotted in below the Eccles line-up, but – despite its moderate prices – it appealed to aspirational caravanners. 

Breaking away from the traditional interiors of its sister line-up, the Swift Charisma, the Europa had more modern soft furnishings, wood finishes that verged on being Continental and curtains that hung from poles – not rails. Its layouts, though, mirrored the Swift Charisma’s, from an end-kitchen two-berth to a twin-axle six-berth. 

The Europa was equipped with blown-air heating for year-round caravanning. Other kit includes a shower, aerial, loose-fit carpets and quality upholstery. The kitchens got a stainless-steel sink with clip-on drainer, a separate oven and grill, and a dual-fuel hob. 

The 500/5 is a five-berth but instead of a rear dinette an L-shaped rear lounge area leaves more floor space for children.  

Model history

The precursor of the Europa range was Bluebird Caravans’ Europe, which was launched in 1964, the year after the Poole-based manufacturer merged with Sprite to create Caravans International, or CI. In 1971, the line-up’s production was moved to Sprite’s plant in Newmarket and its name was changed to Europa. 

Modern inside and out, the vans were produced until 1984. The name was reinstated nine years later as part of Sprite Leisure, only to join the Sterling catalogue in 1994, when Swift bought Sprite. The last Europas were produced in 2011.

For 2006, popular layouts in the range included a pair of two-berths: the corner kitchen, end-washroom Sterling Europa 390/2, and the larger Europa 460/2. Two four-berth models – the Europa 470/4 and 490/4 – boast offside-corner fixed beds with washrooms opposite. 

Large families were catered for with the five-berth Europa 500/5 and the six-berth, fixed-bunk Europa 540/6. The twin-axle, six-berth Europa 600/6 had offside fixed bunks and a large end washroom.

Sterling Europa buyer's checklist

When you go to view a Sterling Europa for sale, start by checking the exterior closely. Inspect the alloys for scuffing, scrapes and scratches. See whether the tyres have been replaced. If the front panel is faded, this is a sign that it has not been cleaned and polished regularly. The rear panel is not full height, so that makes it easier to inspect for small cracks. The good news is that the whole caravan is built on the Al-Ko chassis.

Now check the Europa's interior. Test the roof locker hinges, which may need adjusting. Ensure the mains charger isn’t malfunctioning. Look closely at the sealant in washroom for cracking. Check the hob for peeling enamel and rust. The TV shelf folds away and is easily broken. Check for damage.

What to pay

The five-berth 2006 Sterling Europa 500/5 pictured was on sale for £6995 at a dealership in Yorkshire, and we found more 2006 Europa 500/5s costing £6995 and £7495 at dealers. We saw another Europa for sale a private seller, who was asking just £6295. The cheapest model in the range is the 390/2, starting from around £5500, rising to nearly £8000 for the best 560/6s.

Verdict

The Sterling Europa stood out from the crowd, with its trendy interiors that especially suited younger owners. Generally well-built, these caravans are durable and have few problems. The Sterling Europa 500/5 pictured was in good order and only the hob had signs of rust, while the soft furnishings had worn well.

The Europa range is worth looking out for if you want to buy used caravan with Continental flair! 

What you need to know

The 2006 Sterling Europa 500/5 shown here has five berths. We viewed it at Wandahome, South Cave, East Yorkshire. Here are some quick at-a-glance figures for it. 

  • Price £6995
  • Berths 5
  • MiRO 1185kg
  • Payload 211kg
  • MTPLM 1396kg
  • Internal length 5.13m 
  • Width 2.24m

Alternatives

The Sprite Major 5 has the same layout and similar build quality. It is also lighter and cheaper.

The Elddis Avanté 505 has a traditional décor, which is accompanied by decent spec. It weighs 25kg less than the Europa but is roomier. 

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