Peter BaberSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Caravans and dealers’ written by Peter Baber
A major British tourer manufacturer’s new line in awnings and three new UK-friendly models from a Continental manufacturer are just two reasons why it’s worth heading to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show at the NEC Birmingham this week.
The show, which has taken over five halls, runs until Sunday 26 February 2017 and even has its own on-site campsite! But make sure you click to book in advance.
There's also plenty for the whole family to get stuck into, including expert advice, dog agility, a 'bounce zone' and cooking demonstrations, plus acrèche at the weekend for the little ones.
But what about the caravans? Practical Caravan has put in the legwork to tell you what you can expect.
The new Prima range of awnings on the Bailey caravans stand has been manufactured in China to a design by the Bristol manufacturer. The air awnings, which are designed to fit any caravan, not just those by Bailey, are available in three different widths with between one and three front panels.
They also come in two different ranges. There's a ripstop awning with just a single front door and an angular shape, and a more rounded deluxe awning with a door for each front panel. They've been designed not to have trip hazards across the door entrance, while guy ropes are fluorescent.
Both types of awning feature a specially designed inflation system which means you can either inflate the whole awning from one valve, or inflate each ‘pole’ separately. The deluxe models also feature pods that double up as verandah poles.
They come in their own bag, with net weights between 15.8kg and 27.5kg. Prices range from £399.99 to £699.99 – an electric pump is also available for an extra £50.
The launch of the new awnings line has partly come about through the Bailey’s parts division moving to a larger site just 150 yards from the junction of the M4 and M5. The company is currently rolling out shop-front type displays for its dealers to use, which three dealers have so far taken on and a further seven plan to.
Knaus keeps the family in mind
The first is the £25,999 Knaus StarClass 550, a 7.32m-long four-berth tourer with a second dinette by the central kitchen.
The second is the StarClass 695, which costs £29,999. It is a 8.1m-long model with a large end washroom and two fixed single beds at the back, that have the option of being converted into two bunks. It has a massive payload of 360kg, although with a 2000kg MTPLM, you'll need an equally large tow car.
The Knaus stand is also displaying some caravans from the entry-level Weinsberg range. This includes the Weinsberg CaraOne 400 LK, which for an OTR price of £12,999 you can get with a triple bunk across the back – just right for larger families.
Look out, too, for the special Lunar Quasar model which has been redesigned inside and out by Joules, the clothing and homeware brand. It's not hard to miss, due to the striking floral and bird pattern down the side panels.
In fact, you can win this distinctive, one-off caravan in a prize draw the company is currently running both at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show and online.
Or head to the Swift stand, where the company is displaying the mighty Sprite Quattro DD for the first time. This 7.92m-long twin-axle has a six-berth twin-lounge layout, with an enormous central kitchen next to an equally enormous central washroom.
This model currently costs £17,995 OTR, but from Monday that will go up to £18,445, as part of Swift’s announced mid-season price rise.
On a smaller scale
If you are after something at the other end of the size scale, head to Carapod, which as we said in our NEC show preview, is the new name for Pod Caravans.
It is displaying its two models that can have an MTLPLM of just 325kg, but still manage to include a double bed, a dining area (with legroom provided by a canvas well in the floor) and a kitchen that you open up at the back.
Since being acquired by new owners just before last October’s NEC show, these all-UK-made caravans now come with painted interior walls and larger wheels that provide greater ground clearance. The hitching system has also been improved. They range from £8995 to £9995 OTR.
Barefoot Caravans is also displaying its Naked Barefoot, a stripped-down version of the monocoque Barefoot design, which costs £14,995 OTR and which customers can adapt as they see fit. But you’ll have to look hard to find the Barefoot stand as it is in Hall 4, well away from the rest of the tourers.
And last but by no means least, there was a lot of buzz surrounding a certain announcement... The Caravan Club has chosen this February’s show at the NEC Birmingham to change its name to the Caravan and Motorhome Club. The new name, logo and fresh branding are to reflect the fact that over 40% of the club's members are now motorcaravanners.