Andy JenkinsonSee other caravan reviews written by Andy Jenkinson
Does heavyweight luxury caravanning get any better? Read our Vanmaster V640s review and see what you get for your money with this hand-crafted tourer
Vanmaster is celebrating 21 years of manufacturing luxury tourers – caravans that aren’t just made, they are built, and not by robots on a production line, but by a small and dedicated workforce.
In fact (and sit down before you read this next bit), it takes five weeks to build a Vanmaster from scratch, which equates to many man-hours. So, as you might expect, a pretty hefty bank balance is needed, should you want to buy one.
We tested the first Vanmaster, back in September 1995. It was an end-washroom, two-berth layout named Ovation
It was a cracking caravan with real wood veneers plus a high spec. It cost £15k then, which was a lot of dosh over 20 years ago.
Vanmaster is basically out on its own in a very niche market sector, with competition down to mass-produced luxury models such as Buccaneer, the new-for-2017 Alarias from Lunar Caravans and Coachman’s Laser. So, to be honest, the competitors are more than limited.
The Vanmaster V640s is a four-berth tourer that was launched at the NEC Motorhome and Caravan Show in October, and is a super twin-axle model with end fixed twin beds.
It also comes highly specified, with an E&P self-levelling system and a bespoke chassis with a mighty weight rating of 2500kg.
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Pitching and setting up
The big benefit, of course, is the E&P levelling system, which does all the work for you. It’s been in use on Buccaneers for a few years now, so it’s well proven, and a Vanmaster owner should be set up in minutes.
You also have motor movers fitted, again making life easier for caravanners with the big Vanmaster, and there are heavy-duty corner steadies, along with a wet locker, a gas barbecue point and an exterior mains socket.
Alloy wheels and stainless-steel grabhandles are standard, together with superb-quality GRP front and rear mouldings, not to mention the roof. In fact, all of the GRP work is carried out under strict quality control by Vanmaster itself, ensuring that everything is perfect in fit and finish.
The front locker has two door openings (a Vanmaster trait from day one) which provide space for gas bottles and other caravanning items. There’s also a small compartment for the road-light leads and a moulded housing for the jockey wheel.
Two awning lights are fitted, and all service points are on the offside. The V640s also comes with paint-seal protection as part of the upgrade spec over the 640.
So, laden with kit, this distinctive, hand-built caravan certainly has presence.
There’s a central chest of drawers with proper dovetailed wood joints, and LED spots with mains front corner lights. There is plenty of overhead locker storage, too, and you get a CD/DAB radio with speakers placed underneath the front overhead lockers.
The Vanmaster oozes charm and old-fashioned comfort, and that’s exactly what the target audience expects. The V640s won’t disappoint its fanbase.
A full oven from Thetford is fitted, plus a Thetford dual-fuel hob, which sits level with the Corian/Tristone special kitchen worktop. A microwave is fitted just above the kitchen to the right, in the overhead locker.
A large square sink comes with a drainer/worktop cover. This gives ample worksurface, which is also increased by the slide-out front extension. The 115-litre fridge/freezer is by Dometic and sits opposite the kitchen.
Dedicated lighting under the overhead lockers gives the kitchen user plenty of night-time illumination. There are also twin mains sockets here, and an Omnivent to disperse cooking smells. We would have expected a dedicated extractor over the cooker area itself, however.
It’s very unfussy and practical, and its design has changed little over the years.
As you might expect, the washroom in the Vanmaster V640s offers plenty of luxury with excellent storage and, again, the wood furniture is very much in evidence.
A Thetford cassette toilet is fitted along with a chromed, domestic-style radiator, while a large mirror and the same top-notch worktop finish from the kitchen are also used here.
As with the rest of the V640s, night-time illumination is excellent thanks to plenty of LED lighting.
There’s access in the wardrobe to the Alde heating system, which also includes underfloor heating. Vanmaster supplies two hand towels, complete with the Vanmaster logo.
The shower cubicle is opposite: it’s a moulded unit and has a Thermostatic shower valve. Its size should suit most users, and it comes with folding doors.
The beds have access lockers beneath, and both have adjustable headrests – a nice touch. They are also easy to climb into, and they are a good size for a decent night’s sleep.
As mentioned, the Vanmaster can sleep four. Yes, touring couples are the main users, but the front double dinette can be easily transformed into a sizeable double bed (2.08m x 1.62m) using pull-out seat extensions for the bed base, the cushions then slipping into place.
So this palatial stately home on wheels offers true night-time comfort.
The kitchen also has good storage, with a large cupboard plus overhead lockers. A dresser opposite offers extra storage plus a rather nice drinks cabinet above. It comes with Vanmaster engraved glasses.
The TV is placed on the side dresser by the door, while the wardrobe in the washroom offers good hanging space and has three drawers in its base.
The hand basin’s position – occupying a whole corner – results in storage beneath that is among the best we’ve seen.
Super-sized overhead roof lockers are the order of the day, and these continue into the rear bedroom. More storage is also available under the sofas, and the two beds have a chest of drawers between them which has a neat, upholstered stool – lift the lid and you’ll find a sturdy box beneath.
Considering that this tourer will be used by well-heeled couples, storage for a long trip is well catered for, and little will have to be left at home.
With the super-sized chassis, Vanmaster knows how its tourers are used – in other words, all year round, and abroad as well as at home.
Before you decide that nearly £68k is simply too much cash for a caravan, consider how Vanmaster operates.
The firm’s customers are looking for perfection: they don’t want an off-the-shelf product that’s been built on a production line, and they are willing to pay extra for the personal touch.
The Vanmaster V640s has extra kit over the standard 640, bumping up the price by just over £9000. If you want top quality, however, you have to pay for it.
- It is sturdily hand-built and looks distinctive
- You get a good level of kit
- Owners get great personal service
- It is heavy and expensive
- It doesn't have flat, one-piece side panels