Meeting Steve and Deborah & their 2018 Bailey Unicorn Cabrera series IV

In this monthly column, Jill Malcolm interviews the owners of RVs to learn how they made their decisions

Steve and Deborah Murray live in Auckland. Steve owns Synergy Films, a video-production company specialising in business communications. Deborah is an ESOL lecturer at AUT, teaching English to adult students. They say they are fortunate their jobs give them the flexibility to escape Auckland in their newest caravan. 

Steve and Deborah Murray enjoy a summer break in their newly acquired caravan

Had you owned other caravans or were you 'canvas campers'?

We’ve been camping for more than 20 years now. We started with a familysized canvas tent, progressed to a Jayco camper trailer, then to a second-hand English caravan and recently to our new Bailey Unicorn caravan. 

Why did you decide to buy the caravan you have now?

There were two main reasons: we sold our house, which meant the old caravan had nowhere to live, and our old van was more than 12 years old and starting to wear out.

How did you research and work out what you wanted?

The couple decided an east-west bed was non-negotiable

Our previous caravan gave us a good grounding in knowing what to look for in a new one. Firstly, we worked out that we wanted a new or near-new van with an island bed. The next thing was to decide on the bed’s orientation.

After much internet research and visiting a lot of dealers, we decided we preferred the ‘north-south’ orientation. Once we had made that decision, the choice began to narrow, and it became a matter of finding a caravan that had the bed the way we wanted it as well as the other features we had identified as desirable.

What was the biggest challenge in making a decision?

It was finding the right van at the right price. There wasn’t an abundance of new or near-new stock when we were looking, and the choice was relatively limited.

Why did you decide on the make and model, and what is it?

We finally chose a 2018 Bailey Unicorn Cabrera series IV, which is on a single-axle chassis. The towing length is 7370mm. It was available, and the price was right.

What were the deal-making features of your RV?

In the 2018 model we purchased, Bailey had changed the bathroom/shower layout, which meant access to the bedroom improved considerably and gave the space a more open-plan feel. This also meant there was no longer the wall at the end of the bed, which had potentially constricted leg space for anyone who was on the tall side.

We decided the overall factory specification of the Unicorn provided everything we were looking for (and more) in a caravan. These included a large fridge, big windows, factory-fitted 100-watt solar panels, automatic traction control, luxurious interior decor, excellent lighting and a sophisticated fit-out.

What dealer did you buy from? And how did you find the process of buying, the handover and any-follow up?

We bought the Unicorn from TrailLite in Pukekohe, Auckland. Everyone was great to deal with. Early on, we had a few minor issues that needed to be rectified, and they were ressolved promptly and efficiently. We certainly felt a lot more confident buying this caravan from TrailLite compared with the experience of buying our first English caravan from a lesserknown dealer. Sometimes big is better.

Would you do anything differently?

I can’t think of any better way we could have gone about the deciding and buying process. And we were thrilled with the company we bought it from. 

Is there anything about your new caravan you'd change or improve?

AL-KO makes a heavier-duty chassis that is about a 100mm higher and takes an approximately 400kg greater payload. This chassis on the Unicorn would be excellent, especially given some of the roads and campsites in New Zealand.

It also opens up more options regarding carrying onboard water tanks, which would have been nice to have, but not currently essential for us. Also, the positioning of the spare tyre in the Bailey is just too low, and the supposedly ‘clever’ tyre-lowering mechanism is a pain to operate. The spare tyre now lives under the bed. 

What advice would you offer others looking to buy their first caravan?

Research, research, research. I tell them to visit lots of dealers and look at as many vans as they can. Motorhome shows are great places to help people confirm their ideas and understand their requirements. Also, at the risk of offending anyone, if I were planning to do a lot of travelling, I wouldn’t buy a second-hand English caravan more than 10 years old unless it was in excellent condition, and sometimes that’s hard to determine.

Where will you store your caravan and did storage influence your decision of make and model?

It fits in our driveway, which is the reason we needed the manoeuvrability of a single-axle chassis.

How will you use your new caravan and what travel plans do you have?

The Bailey Unicorn Cabrera settled in at an idyllic spot at Whananaki

Apart from our annual summer beach holiday, we will only get away for short weekends at this stage. We love visiting campsites with hot pools in the winter. However, we have just embarked on a new house build, so our opportunities to get away may be curtailed in the short term. But we love the fact that we have a ‘bach on wheels’, which we can use to explore other parts of the country. Once the new house is built, we anticipate getting away for more short stints. 

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