Wheel estate: Unique Caravans

By: Peta Stavelli, Photography by: Peta Stavelli

Unique Caravans Designer Bryan Rusbatch Unique Caravans
Unique Caravans Customer feedback influenced the design Unique Caravans
Unique Caravans Moulded surfaces make an easy-clean bathroom Unique Caravans
Unique Caravans The generous rear bedroom Unique Caravans
Unique Caravans Dunedin Motorhomes’ office and showroom Unique Caravans
Unique Caravans Unique Caravans

After years of professionally repairing and refurbishing other people’s caravans, Bryan Rusbatch decided to pour his accumulated knowledge into the design and build of a unique caravan. So unique, in fact, Unique Caravans was the name he chose for the design.

The Unique Caravan is a testament to Bryan's philosophy of providing quality at a competitive price, and it's the attention to detail that sets it apart. But one example is the amount of thought put into each aspect of the design process, which can be found in the upholstered seating.

Bryan explains, "The rolled edge of the seating gives a superior level of comfort, but we also spent a great deal of time getting the angles for the backrests. Most of the knowledge we gained from listening to our clients and responding to their needs."

Windows are all double-glazed with fly screens and blinds. The generous bedroom has a privacy curtain, and the kitchen has been designed with plenty of storage, including a pull-out pantry.

Another feature of the kitchen is a 12-volt fridge with solar panel. "Our customers have told us that's what they like and it's also difficult to adequately vent a three-way fridge."

Two 90-watt solar panels make the caravan self-sufficient and Bryan also likes the simplicity of not having to select a power source — not that he is any way a technophobe, quite the reverse.

Bryan is also the inventor of another Unique product: the Unique Trailer Light Tester, which takes the pain out of testing trailer lights. It's a product he developed out of frustration during his 18 years running a mechanical workshop, when it took two men and a huge battery on a mobile stand to test trailer lights for a $40 warrant.

Deciding there had to be a better way, Bryan developed the compact, remote-controlled, and easy-to-use product that he believes is the quickest way to test trailer lights. Sales of the product back up his belief. He's now on about his third refinement and is also developing a similar product for use on caravans and motor vehicles.

Unique -Caravans -1

Bryan's ability to look outside the square has not only won him repeat custom over the years, it's also attracted new customers. Quality workmanship and a can-do attitude, with sufficient flexibility to incorporate the customer's unique requirements recently led to the development of an unusual product: a mobile food kitchen for the new Chicken Box franchise.

Bryan had previously fitted a number of other food and beverage trailers. "And we're looking at a number more. But at the end of the day, we're a small outfit, not an assembly line, so it just comes down to meeting the customer's needs."

While he initially became involved with caravans and motorhomes as a hobby, Bryan had long nurtured a desire to build one from scratch. And true to form, when he finally got around to realising the dream, he built it on a solid foundation. The trailer is electro-galvanised, rather than hot-dipped, so Bryan is able to offer a 25-year guarantee.

Everything from the trailer up combines strength and durability within an exceptionally lightweight caravan, weighing around 1490kg and easily towed by a three-litre family car.

"We'll stand by it 100 percent," Bryan says, with confidence.

The caravan is built with a composite panel core of urethane with a high-gloss finish. "It's the ultimate in good insulation with great sound deadening properties. That's one of the reasons it's so peaceful when you're sitting in here."

Bryan is right. While conducting the interview we were sitting in the 'van surrounded by all the usual noise-creating business you would expect to find in an industrial estate, and it was serenely quiet.

Another consideration for clients was a feeling of spaciousness without compromising the need for plenty of storage.

"When we've worked on people's own 'vans, having plenty of room with plenty of storage is always a big concern, so that's what we've tried to do."

As a result, there's storage in abundance — a good-sized wardrobe in the bedroom, underbed and overhead, together with a variety of kitchen storage options, including a generous pull-out pantry. The fridge is 85 litres with a good-sized freezer.

The kitchen is also equipped with a Thetford three-burner oven with grill, microwave, and rangehood. The bathroom and toilet are combined in one well-considered space. There's a separate handbasin. The large double bed has a comfortable inner-sprung mattress.

Extras include a gas detector, awning track on both sides, satellite TV with roof-mount dishes, an LED sensor light outside, plus well thought out LED lighting within.

"In terms of extras, we can include whatever is required by the client and complete the build to their specifications," Bryan advises.

Judging by the opinions expressed by a recent client, there will be more happy customers yet to come.

I spoke with Brent Ardern, one of the two partners who commissioned the build of the Chicken Box.

"We took delivery of the Chicken Box in October 2013 and we've since attended some really big events. Yesterday we were at Laneway, and we've previously been at Rhythm and Vines and Big Day Out.

The 'van has performed really well for us as a large capacity food vending vehicle. It's exceeded our expectations. Bryan's very, very good. He went above and beyond and his knowledge of what works and what doesn't really helped us out.

"We were really impressed with the level of care, his attitude, and his workmanship. Very soon we'll be ordering more vehicles from him as we start to build the franchise."

For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook