Goldstream 1760 Bunk Pop Top Review
The robust little Goldstream 1760 Bunk pop- top achieves what not many other vans can.
At the 2016 NSW Caravan, Camping & Holiday Supershow, held in April, there was a surprising number of family caravans on display. I say surprising because family caravans can be a bit of a challenge for manufacturers. If they build them too big and, therefore, too expensive, they don’t sell. Build them too small and they don’t sell either, because families need a bit of space. So manufacturers need to find that elusive middle ground. When I saw the Goldstream 1760 Bunk on display at the Parravans Caravan World dealer stand at the show, it caught my eye as I thought it managed just that, and it ticked many of the boxes that family vanners have. For starters, it’s a pop-top caravan, which is an attractive proposition for anyone who prefers a lower towing height or has storage height restrictions at home. It weighs in with a Tare weight of 1890kg and an ATM of 2500kg, so it has a generous and family-friendly load capacity of 610kg, yet it fits under the so-called ‘Prado towing limit’ of many popular tow vehicles. Although, I think reaching the full 610kg loading capacity of the van would be a challenge, given the storage restrictions in a mid-sized pop-top van such as this. It behaved very well on the road and even off it. When I took it down some rough roads, it was certainly an easy tow due, in large part, to its size and towing profile.
READY FOR ADVENTURE
Our review van was fitted with the Goldstream ‘Adventure Pack’ which, in short, means the van is fitted out for rough road, but not full offroad, use. The first clue to the van’s rough- road intentions is the side skirt and front panel of polished alloy checkerplate. Its traditional checkerplate finish is something I prefer to the more trendy satin black, because it makes the dirt and dust less obvious. Aluminium is also the material of choice for the van’s composite body panels and the pop-top roof, and there’s a meranti timber frame underneath those panels. Given the size and shape of the van, it’s not surprising that there’s only a tunnel boot for external storage. But it’s a reasonable size for a family that doesn’t travel with too much baggage. The gas cylinders are on the drawbar, and the spare wheel is mounted on the rear bumper bar. A look under the 1760 Bunk reveals the 100x50mm (4x2in) DuraGal chassis, fitted with single-axle leaf spring suspension, shock absorbers and 15in alloy wheels. The chassis has been lifted about 50mm (2in) to give better ground clearance, and all the vulnerable pieces have been strapped up well out of the way. The 80L water tanks, which are protected with alloy checkerplate, are fitted either side of the axle to create balance, and there are quick-drop corner stabilisers to aid setting up.
THE ART OF COMPROMISE
So how do you get a family layout, including a shower and a toilet, into a van that is only 5.38m (17ft 8in) long? With a lot of ingenuity and a little bit of compromise, that’s how! The double bed sits across the front of the van, forward of the entry door, which creates space for the kitchen bench and the bunk beds on the offside wall, leaving room on the nearside for an L-shaped lounge and a rear corner combo bathroom. I’ve been in quite a few larger family vans where I’ve felt distinctly cramped, usually because of the cabinetry. But that feeling, real or otherwise, is negated here by the pop-top design, which creates plenty of air space and has no overhead lockers above the top of the solid wall. That does, of course, mean less storage space, but it also means you can leave more at home and travel lighter.
Setting up the pop-top is quite simple – you just release the four roof clips on the outside and then lift the roof from inside at either end. But don’t forget to set the awning to the ‘open’ position first – it makes lifting the roof so much easier. There is also a small foot stool supplied, so the vertically-challenged among us can reach the roof clips. One of the compromises you’ll find with this layout is the size of the front bed. At 1.8x1.3m (5ft 11in x 4ft 3in), it’s not particularly large. You could option a longer bed, but that would mean losing the front nearside corner cupboard, as you can’t have both. But the larger bed would create more under-bed storage space, which might help negate the impact of losing the corner cupboard. As it is, the under-bed space is fairly small and largely taken up by the Truma Saphir air-conditioner and the Truma water heater. The rear bunks are marginally longer at 1.83x0.63m (6x2ft), so there is always the option of letting the junior family members use the front bed and mum and dad getting a bunk each in the rear! Whoever scores the bunks also gets the huge cabinet with lots of hanging space and drawers underneath.
There’s no doubt that an L-shaped dinette works best with this layout, as it’s pretty easy to get in and out of, and also allows for an extra (folding) chair to be added on the other side of the table. There was a time when bathrooms in pop-top caravans weren’t even considered, but with a bit of ingenuity and some vinyl curtains, hey presto, we can now have an onboard bathroom. It’s certainly not big, in this case, but there’s enough room for a Thetford cassette toilet with a moulded wash basin behind, and a variable height, flexible hose shower. However, the maximum height of the shower is restricted by the solid wall height. But to fit the bathroom in, something had to give, and that something is the kitchen. It has all the necessary items – four-burner cooktop with grill, stainless steel sink, a large family- sized fridge and a microwave under the grill – but there’s not much overhead locker space. One of the two lockers houses the electrical panel, but there are four large drawers and a shelved cupboard. There also isn’t any benchtop working space, but using the table is a reasonable compromise. Given the proximity of the bed to the cooktop and the lack of any side splash panel, I think a protective plastic sheet or something similar wouldn’t go astray. Or, alternatively, you could use the external gas bayonet to hook up a barbecue and cook outside.
Writer: Malcolm Street
This Article was originally published on Caravan World Magazine