With more than 700 motorhomes, campervans, trailer tents, and other, questionably portable holiday homes on display at the National Exhibitions Centre there was plenty to get through over the packed 6-day event. Perhaps, enthralled by this summer’s unusually hot weather the show drew sizable crowds from the second the doors opened but with no less than 11 halls filled to capacity with leisure paraphernalia there was more than enough to suitable disperse the crowd.
With all the big players, from the world of traditional campervans present there was plenty of new models to get through. The larger offerings from Swift and Bürstner particularly impressed. In a world where so many of the campers from different manufacturers are indistinguishable, the refreshing interior colour pallet of Bürstner’s 2019 model range set it apart from the rest. Running the fine line between an interior that is luxurious, while not being so dark that it feels like the bat cave, but also not so overly bright that the decor comes off cheap, it is a hard art to master and one that Bürstner has.
The fittings of their models were practical while seemingly more expensive than many of the model’s prices suggested.
Swift, were out in force at the show, featuring a sprawling display at the centre of the exhibition with many impressive models on offer, complete with a few motorsport and tech pieces to draw in the crowds.
With technology at the forefront of many of their newer models, Swift Command was one of the more impressive innovations at the show, essentially it brings home automation to the touring market, letting users operate lights, heating and more using linked smart devices; handy for those wanting to “pre-warm” their vehicle on the way back from a long walk in the wilderness.
Rise of the Day Van
Along with the larger campervans there were also plenty of small-form tourers and day vans on display. Becoming ever popular for people who want a flexible vehicle during the week but something they can holiday in at the weekend the number of vans on display was vast and the options available show how competitive this growing market is.
Alongside VW there were vans on display from Ford, Citroen, Toyota, Mercedes, Fiat and Peugeot. The Spacetourer based Citroen Campster made its European debut at the show and, although the stand was a tad lacklustre, the product itself was incredibly impressive, with options to go from a two person sleeper to a seven-person minivan in a couple of minutes via a smart sliding rail arrangement it was one of the most versatile vehicles at the show. See the video below from Campster to get an idea of the vehicles incredible functionality.
Spurred on by the expansion of the day van market car manufacturers are also exploring producing complete campers, as opposed to just supplying the donor vehicle, Mercedes even had their own stand, which shows the importance of this market to the German marquee. The interior of their van was a testament to the money people are willing to spend on a well-equipped camper and is a stark contrast from vans of yesteryear.
As with any show at the NEC it wouldn’t be complete without a few obscene items to get the crowds talking and this year’s event set a high benchmark from the word go, after all, it was opened on the Thursday by George Clark in a Lamborghini Urus pulling an Airstream caravan… yes, you did read that correctly!
One of the contenders for “top jaw-dropper of the show” is Omar Leisure Homes, with the rise of ‘Mega’ static homes seeming unstoppable, Omar has really taken things to the next level. The luxurious statics were fitted to the highest standards and really did convince you that you weren’t in a caravan, externally, of course, it is a tad more obvious but the stylish design of most of their models does, again, ooze sophistication. I will exempt one of their models from this though, due to it representing a retirement bungalow from the 1950’s, but taste is, of course, subjective.
Prices weren’t cheap and were comparable to kit-build houses but the portability of these units removes planning constraints and enables them to be located at many accommodating holiday parks across the country.
Speaking of planning constraints, you may well need one for some of the awnings on display, with several manufacturers displaying awnings that featured not just an extra compartment or two but actually had separated rooms, annexes and presumably, require a team of qualified scaffolders to assemble.
In these instances you have to question whether it is excess for the sake of it, do you really need to have the floor space of a small apartment for what is seen as many as a back to basics holiday? I think when you lose a couple of days of your holiday putting together one of the world’s largest Meccano kits, it probably isn’t worth going away at all!
Still, the winner of this year’s show goes to the folding watering can, proving that even on holiday you can water plants… provided of course, they are also of the collapsible variety.