Coronet Caravans was founded in Ballarat by Ian Farren in back 1959. Even then Victoria was leading the way in meeting the Australia’s growing demand for homes on wheels.
By MICHAEL GREALY
Coronet has been owned since 1991 by the Phillips family, industry veterans with extensive experience in repairing, reconstruction, renovation and maintenance, as well as accessories and parts. It’s on busy Canterbury Road in Bayswater North, a magnet for caravan lovers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, where I caught up with owner Andrew Phillips.
At the front of the large block, prospective buyers were wandering through a wide range of Carrington caravan designs – I was struck by one of the brand’s classic vans on display, a restored 1978
Coronet Prince that was nestling alongside a Bondwood van from the 1950s. In 1966 Coronet had the distinction of manufacturing the state’s largest ever caravan at 36 feet long.
The company’s latest fully-featured touring van, the Carrington comes in 15 layouts with queen sized beds and two to four bunks in longer versions.
Every van has a toilet and shower, hot water service, two big gas bottles, quality innerspring mattress, air conditioning, 12-volt LCD TV with DVD and Winegard antenna, on-board battery and charger as standard features.
Coronet’s manufacturing plants in Melbourne and Ballarat have established a solid reputation for building to exacting specifications while meeting customer expectations for all the latest fittings. As Andrew Phillips explained: “We’ve increasingly fitted a lot more accessories in the past 20 years. Things like a microwave oven or wind-out windows, for example, are now standard.”
Coronet has been renowned for annual model changes and in the past the company has tweaked the features of its caravans upon a customer’s request. Recently, Andrew Phillips has taken the plunge into customised manufacturing and finishing with Coronet’s Glenora range.
“The industry’s heading that way,” he said. “A lot of people have been doing it for years. A customised van is drawn up on the CAD system and can go through ten or 15 changes in its design. If the Carrington van is like a Falcon or Commodore, the Glenora is a BMW.”
The Carrington is a comfortable van suitable for extensive travel. It sits well on a Supergal chassis with tandem-axle suspension offering sound handling under tow.
A Dometic awning gives plenty of shelter and there are protector shades on front and rear windows. The rig is clad with aluminium and the walls and roof are insulated.
The 4 inch A-frame carries two 9kg gas cylinders and it comes with two 80 litre water tanks.
It has 15 inch chrome allow rims, wheel spats and a pebble guard to the top of the boot . The spare wheel can be in the boot or located on the rear bumper bar.
Step inside a Carrington and you get a feeling of space and a place to relax. These are impressive full ensuite vans with the lot. One thing you can be sure of with a Coronet is an understanding of customer needs. Andrew Phillips’ own family trips in Coronet caravans and his more than 30 years in the industry gives him that perspective.
Coronet is flexible and if a customer wants to move things around. Deposit down, your van is made to order – options that meet your needs and your budget and today’s demand for personalisation. Inside, it’s full meranti timber framing with polyply and craftsman built furniture and trimming.
The pop-top has an easy lift roof system with struts and four detachable flyscreen openings.
Air conditioning, polyester wall finish, coloured timber pelmets, 12 volt fluorescent lighting in the roof and a choice of interior colours are standard features.
So are the entertainment options of CD radio unit and LCD 12 volt/240 volt flat screen TV with DVD.
Most of the Carrington models I saw had the queen sized bed up the front but they can be replaced by single. In the larger models, bunks or a club lounge come as additions to the queen sized bed. Mirror-doored robes, drawers beside each side of the bed and cabinets above the bed add up to plenty of storage space.
The kitchen has loads of room for meal preparation, with a full sized sink, griller, hot plates, range hood and microwave oven. A pull out pantry and pot drawer are among other features. The timber edge
bench tops are an example of the Carrington’s smart finish.The dining area opposite comes in a variety of seating combinations. I preferred the face-to-face seating with drop down/extendable table to the e-shaped, slide-around-the fixed-table option.
The ensuite is neat and compact with shower cubicle, cassette toilet, basin and washing machine.
Prices start at $52,000
• Regency Caravans, 120 Canterbury Road, Bayswater North 03
• Swan Hill RV Centre, 41 Nyah Road, Swan Hill 03 50322987
• Tow World, 18-20 Lockheed Street, Tamworth 02 6762 1033
Reliability and comfort
Flexible to buyers’ customised needs
Choice of layouts
Well equipped for distance touring
Great under bed storage
Access to dealers
Slide-around dining table versions