Drive A New Lifestyle!

Story and Photography by Peter Hammond

Copyright © On The Road Magazine 2001. Any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.

Swagman's Signature offers luxury and flexibility while touring Australia.

When it comes to it, if your dream is to travel around Australia in the absolute lap of luxury, a top-of-the-line motorhome is the way to go. 

You ride in air-conditioned comfort relaxing in rich Connelly leather driving seats. You live in a five-star apartment surrounded by beautifully crafted timber cabinetwork, soft wool carpets and fine fabrics, enjoy the built-in TV, VCR and 10-stack CD stereo system, prepare your meals in the designer kitchen and sleep in the spacious en suite master bedroom.

The open road awaits you...

And no matter where you choose to stop, the comfort levels never diminish. Pull into the remotest of roadside stops with not a 240-volt power supply for miles and the on-board remote-start Onan generator immediately powers up to run all the on-board creature comforts.

You want for nothing

Brisbane-based Swagman Motorhomes has been producing magnificent versions of this ultimate in RVs since the early 1980s and the 25ft Isuzu-based Signature Series is a good example of their range.

Flagship of the Swagman fleet is, of course, the 38ft Australian Dream, but for some the prospect of piloting a vehicle of that size is just too much. For such people, the Signature 25ft represents a much more manageable package and, with little discernible reduction in luxury, a rather less imposing price tag.

The driver and passenger seats in the Swagman are well named – Captain’s chairs – and you quickly assume the authority of the name as you slide into position behind the wheel. But there’s nothing daunting about taking control.

The smooth 4.6 litre turbo diesel purrs away under the floor and, with the help of a smoothautomatic gearbox and power steering, driving is relaxed and effortless.

While the Australian Dream’s length may be a little overwhelming, the Signature is, in fact, shorter than the average car and van set-up. And backing’s a breeze compared with a van because, not only do you know precisely where the rear end is going, there’s a rear-mounted TV camera to show the view behind on a miniature screen on the dashboard!

The Swagman Signature 25-footer is a genuine full height walk-through motorhome and the cockpit is an integral part of the living area.

In fact, the normal entry door to the home – complete with automatic slide-out step – is the only way in, so there’s no clambering up into the driver’s seat like a truckie. Just stroll in through the lounge and take command.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, both Captain’s chairs swivel to become part of the living area, the passenger seat also providing the second seat at the neat dinette table.

When not needed, the table folds down leaving a small ledge suitable for a couple of coffee cups or cocktail glasses and all three chairs – driver’s, passenger’s and the second dining chair – turn and become part of the lounge.

Opposite the dinette, and completing the lounge set-up, is a sumptuous deep lounge – in Connelly leather, of course. It can seat three but, when occupied by just two, there’s a centre section that drops down as an occasional table. It has well-defined recesses that leave no doubt as to their purpose – exactly fitting a champagne bottle and two glasses.
Hope the ride hasn't spoilt the bubbly...

And to make sure there are no disasters while on the move, the shallow area behind the folded-down dining table is fitted out to take two champagne bottles and four glasses in padded recesses.

While the sumptuous Swagman lifestyle is clearly created with two in mind, the designers have recognised that the need might arise to accommodate an occasional overnight guest or two and the lounge folds down to make a second double bed.

A 34cm Sharp colour TV is built into the console above the cockpit and, although a little high for comfortable viewing, it can be seen from the lounge – and even from the bed if you can see that far. A VCR and 10-stack CD occupy cabinets on either side.

The kitchen occupies the centre of the floor plan, its modestly angled bench top adding a designer touch and creating just a little extra bench space around the stainless steel sink.

A substantial slide-out pantry, the top of which is raised to form a servery, divides the bench from the lounge. In a clever design move, the top of the inner slide-out section is also laminated and, when pulled out across the aisle, doubles the working area.

A 150-litre fridge and separate freezer are opposite the kitchen, concealed behind crafted timber cabinet doors, with the NEC microwave fitted above.

A full-size shower and toilet cubicle occupies the rest of the area between the fridge and the master bedroom with a vanity sink atop a corner cupboard unit at the foot of the bed. A double wardrobe and shoe locker occupies the other corner of the bedroom.

Large windows at the head and on either side of the double bed fill the master bedroom with light. An array of overhead lockers with deep suspended cupboards on either side dominates the end wall above the bed and there are useful bedside cabinets at floor level. Stereo speakers and reading lights are fitted into the overhead cupboards.

As well as the three lockers over the bed, there are also two over the dinette, four above the lounge and four more in the kitchen, providing reasonable storage in combination with the various small cupboards around the place.

The many large windows throughout the Swagman are dressed with slimline venetians, curtains and matching pelmets, and while they ensure the Signature is light and airy during the day, it’s certainly not gloomy at night either.

12-volt halogen down lights abound and flood the van with light. There are three in the bedroom, four in the lounge and five in the kitchen, three of them directly over the working area. In addition there are reading lights above the dinette and the lounge seats.
Power points are somewhat fewer, with doubles in the kitchen and by the vanity, but considering all the gadgetry that’s built in there’s not a lot left that you need to plug in!

From driver's seat to bed is a quick hop, step and jump.

The motorhome’s entire power and light requirements are managed from within the vehicle and while there is the usual socket for linking into the domestic grid, it’s not essential to enable the Signature to function fully.

All the lighting is, of course, 12-volt which is supplied from two 115 ampH deep cycle house batteries. They are kept charged through a battery management system, which controls the input from the vehicle alternator, a pair of Unisol 64 watt solar panels, the domestic mains or the on-board 3.6 kVA remote start generator. A Heart Interface 1000 watt inverter can be used to step up the 12-volt supply for selected mains appliances when the generator is not running.

The Signature Series is based on an Isuzu chassis and the model reviewed is powered by an Isuzu NPR 300 turbo diesel running through a four-speed auto-transmission.

A steel RHS frame is built on to the chassis and clad with Termanto panelling, a urethane foam sandwich bonded between inner and outer fibreglass skins and finished with a two-pack epoxy paint. The windows are all tinted toughened safety glass in wind-out hoppers.

Enjoying the majesty of a motorhome is a special experience and the Signature 25ft provides that experience in an easy-to-drive package and at a reasonable drive away price of $205,000.

And for that you not only get a motorhome – you get a lifestyle.

For more info contact Swagman toll free on 1800 177 566.

Swagman In Victoria

The recent acquisition of Swagman Motorhomes by Cummins was quickly followed by the appointment in January of the company’s first Victorian dealership, Garry Rogers Recreational Vehicles in Melbourne.

The welcome news means that aspiring Swagman owners will no longer have to travel to Queensland or New South Wales to satisfy their desires.

The dealership opened with four representative models including a Mercedes-based Sprinter, two Isuzu-powered Signature Series and a top of the range 36ft Australian Dream powered by a Cummins diesel.

Heading up the Swagman Division of Garry Rogers is John MacLeod who, coincidentally, worked for the original Melbourne Swagman company which was well known in the late 70s for its campervan conversions.

Contact Gary Rogers RVs on (03) 9560 4711.

Copyright © On The Road Magazine 2001. Any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.