Andy JenkinsonSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Caravans for sale – buying guides’ written by Andy Jenkinson
Looking for a lightweight caravan?
Chances are you’ll be drawn towards a new or used Lunar, but there is another option.
Avondale produced some flyweight yet well-equipped models, and the leader of the pack was the Dart.
This range offered a quality interior finish yet remained light in weight.
Fab for first-timers
The Dart had a choice of some good layouts, too, such as the neat end-kitchen 380/2 we have here, but it did lag behind other makers’ entry-level ranges.
Two-piece aluminium sides were used, with ABS front and rear moulded panels.
The gas locker was also placed over the axle on the side, plus a spare wheel was fitted in the floor.
No alloy wheels were specified, but the Al-Ko chassis did have a hitch stabiliser.
There’s a locker in the moulded front panel, but it’s not much use due to its size.
The spec included a fridge, a TV aerial, an oven, a shower, blown-air heating and a cassette loo.
At less than £5000 today, they make a great first-time buy for couples.
Launched for 1998, the much-improved Dart replaced the long-running Perle range.
The first end-kitchen two-berth was the 370, replaced in 2000 by the slightly larger 380/2.
In 2006 a new profile was added, with a one-piece front window that was made to look like a more upmarket triple design.
The new-look Dart was considered a very stylish caravan, with full-height ABS panels front and rear, and it rode on an Al-Ko chassis with the gas locker on the offside over the wheelarch.
The interior featured smart-looking overhead lockers with solid wood edging, giving an upmarket finish.
The 2007 range also featured the end-washroom 470, the five-berth 510, the four-berth 525 and 545, plus the 556, a six-berth that proved particularly popular with families.
The light weight and modest spec made Avondale Darts ripe for upgrading as dealer specials, and these are well worth seeking out today because they don’t cost much more than a standard model.
However, the Dart range was no more by late 2008, when Avondale ceased trading.
- Check inside the rear panel for damp
- Ensure the Thetford fridge is in working order
- Check both the rear and front panel for cracks and past repairs
- Look out for upholstery coming unstitched
- Check that the cupboard doors aren’t coming loose
- Check that the canvas slats in the seat bases are not damaged
- Look for floor delamination near the kitchen
- Check the seat bases for loss of support
What to pay?
If you have spotted one of these in the used caravans for sale pages, what should you expect to pay?
At £4995, this featured 2007 Avondale Dart 380/2 looked well priced: searching dealer forecourts, we found examples priced right up to £5995 – expect to pay a little more for dealer specials, offering more spec for the cash.
The 470 and 510 range from £6-7000, while the 525 and 545 can be up to £500 more.
The larger 556 starts from £6995 and rises to £7895.
How about a 2008 Lunar Ariva? It has the same layout and would set you back around £6195.
Gone but not forgotten, Avondale was a quality make and its Darts were lightweight and popular among those on a limited budget.
The range had a layout for most buyers and, though not over-specified, Darts gave great service.
The 380/2, as featured, offers a small-car owner a caravan that’s easy to tow and light enough to handle on site.
Keep an eye out for faults and you should land a great-value tourer.
2007 Avondale Dart 380/2:
- Price: £4995
- Berths: 2
- MiRO: 826kg
- Payload: 174kg
- MTPLM: 1000kg
- Internal length: 3.86m
- Width: 2.08m
- Seen at: Sherwood Oaks Leisure, 296 Southwell Road West, Mansfield, NG18 4LP (call 01623 653 145 or go online)