Gator X – JB Caravan

Roger’s Perspective

Karin and I knew, from having rented a few caravans in the previous year, what items we wanted, and in which layout. For me, however, whilst the layout was still very important, the choice was driven more by the technical specification than where each item would be located within the structure. Karin was keen on choosing the interior design, colours and storage space and so, with the happy wife happy life philosophy in play and knowing that she would get it right, I left that level of expertise to her. She will no doubt discuss all of that in her part of this post.

Without labouring the point, the prior purchase of the car in many ways was now going to dictate the physical size of the van and of course, in turn, how much equipment we could fit inside and out. As mentioned in my scribblings about the car, I will do a specific article about weights and towing restrictions, but for now, just a few numbers to set the scene.

The Ford Ranger can allegedly tow 3.5T. This is a common claim for just about all of the Utes currently on the market and although technically speaking it is true , stating it in a brochure and applying it, in reality
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, are very different things. With the accessories installed and a full tank of fuel (140litres), the Ranger tops the scales at 2580 Kg.  Add to that two passengers of approximately 180 Kg and we have a weight of 2760Kg. Now we hitch on a 3.5T caravan and job done!…..  Unfortunately not.  And herein lies that big difference between the advertising and the actual real-world application. The Ranger, facial games and whatever is attached to the back end, cannot exceed 6000 Kg under current design specification and regulation. The simple addition of the above numbers reveals that a kitted up and fuelled Ranger with only two passengers cannot legally tow 3.5T. (2760 + 3500 = 6260 KG!).

So back on topic. The restrictions and specifically the 6000Kg combined mass of vehicle and trailer had now become the constraints within which I was going to have to work.  With a fully accessorised, fuelled and loaded Ranger どうじんあんてな, plus Karin and I, we needed to work on a limit of around 2800Kg for the van.  Add to this the desire to be fully off-road and we were immediately constrained to a single axle caravan with a max weight in the region of 2.8T.

And so, the hunt began with visits to both the Perth shows and the main Camping and Caravanning show in Brisbane. We looked at several of the high-end vans including Bushtracker, Spinifex and Zone RV. I particularly liked the RV’s use of modern materials and building techniques borrowed from the racing yacht world but sadly RV was not able to do a layout that suited our needs and so we moved on. We took a step down in cost and looked at other makes such as Kedron, Lotus, and the new Jayco Adventurer, phin sxe but we only ever managed about 90% of the wish list. We were then lucky enough to visit the JB Caravans stand in Brisbane and purely by chance we ended up talking to their head designer.  Nothing appeared impossible for them and once I had seen the ATX Cruisemaster air suspension in operation I was hooked
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Needless to say, we eventually ordered a “Gator X” at the Perth show on October 18 for a May delivery the following year complete with a suitable list of accessories. As with all things, and probably something I have mentioned before, our choice is no better or worse than any other. So in this sense, many will question our decision and others may well move in a similar direction. What I can say is that after two rigorous trips including so genuine off-road time, the van has performed impeccably and met all of our expectations. I guess only time will provide us with the final answers around the robustness of build and the longevity of all installed components. Visit magic loan for details.

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