Andy Jenkinson

See other Advice articles filed in ‘Caravans for sale – buying guides’ written by Andy Jenkinson
   
Want top class touring for £5000? Wander through the used caravans for sale pages with Andy Jenkinson, as he throws the spotlight on the 2005 Lunar Chateau

Yes, you can get true touring luxury on a budget. When browsing the used caravans for sale pages, keep an eye out for the Lunar Chateau, a tourer that, even when new, brought something different and rather special to the marketplace.

Launched back in 2001, the Lunar Chateau was aimed at those who wanted a new caravan with a pre-owned price-tag. Although the Lunar badge was proudly displayed, these entry-level tourers were not Preston-built.

These caravans were fabricated in Belgium and based on an Al-Ko chassis. They were made to be lightweight with limited standard kit, but overall build quality was good and the furniture felt well screwed together.

Even though Lunar Chateaus were budget caravans, they came with triple front windows and an extra-length drawbar designed to aid towing stability and give space for storing bicycles.

The 2005 line-up consisted of five layouts, all family models including a fixed-bed design.

The Continental influence stretched to ‘fishscale’ side panels and no TV aerial or battery locker. But the spec included an awning light, a Dometic fridge, a gas-only Truma space heater, an oven/grill and a three-burner hob.

The stainless-steel sink didn’t have a drainer, but these vans punched above their weight when it came to washrooms with a quality moulded ABS sink, cupboard and vanity unit.

The 400 featured here came with a corner washroom, rear side double dinette, centre kitchen and front lounge. Being one of the popular choices, this model is more common on the forecourts today.

Model history

Lunar Caravans was sold to the Tirus Group at the start of the millennium, which then introduced its Chateau range to the UK with a Lunar badge to give it credibility among British buyers.

The 400 was a compact tourer for a family on a budget, and one of the first models launched for 2001, with a new price-tag of £7345. The 2005 range was improved over 2004’s with the introduction of the then-new Truma water inlet, mains lead, entrance step, new awning light, redesigned reading lights, a new design of wheeltrims, a new shower and upgraded upholstery. Roof-locker storage wasn’t over-generous, but there were plenty of shelves.

Used Lunar Chateaus still attract buyers who want a first tourer, but getting some body panels can now be hard – although most used parts are generally easy to track down. So how do these Continental, rebadged Lunar caravans last?

Buyer's checklist

  • Check for faded/peeling decals
  • Watch out for cracks in the rear light panel
  • Check the sealant around any retrofitted roof aerial
  • Look for missing wheeltrims
  • Check the upholstery for lack of support
  • Is the service history up to date?
  • Check the floor for delamination
  • Look out for failed cupboard catches
      

What to pay

There are big price differences for used Lunar Chateaus, so do your homework.

We found the entry-level 400 ranging from £4495 for a private sale with an awning and a spare wheel, up to one at £5295.

Prices for the most desirable five-berth 500 model can reach up to £5995.

Alternatives

  • A dealer special such as a 2003 Elddis Firestorm 475 has a better spec and is a popular first caravan – we found one at £5495.
  • A Continental van may be more costly, but we found a 2005 Bürstner 530TL which looks like a good buy at £5995.
        

Verdict

These affordable tourers were popular, but by 2007 the range was up against the Bailey Ranger, Sprite and Adria Altea. And when Tirus went bust the Chateau range was no longer available.

Nonetheless, these caravans are well made and generally withstand hard use, but body panels can be very hard to replace if you damage them. They tow well and make for an excellent first-time tourer.

Factfile

Some details on the featured 2005 Lunar Chateau 400:

  • Price: £4995
  • Berths: 4
  • MIRO: 937kg
  • Payload: 213kg
  • MTPLM: 1150kg
  • Internal length: 4.06m
  • Width: 2.20m
  • Seen at: Wandahome, Brough Road, South Cave, East Yorkshire, HU15 2DB (call 01430 424 342 or go online)
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