Words by Travis Blake
A British company making a modern caravan with 1950s retro style and cool that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century! And they look stunning!
Have you ever wanted to pack it all up and just hit the road, miles and miles of seemingly endless freedom and romance, away from the shackles of everyday mundanity. How appealing the opportunity to explore, discover new places, sounds, sights, tastes and smells, experience the beauty of nature and live in the great outdoors. I hope that sounds appetising, but how are we going to do this and where are we going to stay? In a caravan of course, you know hitch it up behind the car and off we go. Hmm, isn’t that just a tiny bit less adventurous, the idea of a caravan is just a little bit stayed? Well, not if it’s in the coolest caravan around a truly iconic home on wheels from Rocket Caravans.
With a heavy nod towards the styling of the classic American Airstream travel trailer dating back to the 1930s, Kidderminster based Rocket Caravans make hand built caravans to customer order, be that a touring unit or something more commercial for catering or marketing purposes. The company was founded in 2007 by Peter Carrick, originally importing vintage American aluminium trailers to meet the growing UK demand and interest in these stylish units. This business venture happened unexpectedly for Peter, who is the Managing Director, having a background in vehicle restoration and motor journalism writing for American Car magazine, he was asked by his brother-in-law to source a vintage American trailer to convert into a recording studio.
After battling with the work involved in fifty year old restoration projects, Peter decided to build a prototype caravan using the iconic American styling but utilising modern underpinnings, European regulation compliant electrics, and modern manufacturing techniques. This was back in 2010 and from day one it proved to be very successful and demand for the Rocket caravan grew rapidly and it is this demand that has enabled Rocket to widen their offering from a 14 foot Mini-Rocket to 26 foot Starship. Not wishing to rest on their laurels Rocket are always looking to expand the model range, later this year they plan to introduce a new lightweight two person sleeping-pod as a stylish alternative to camping and aimed squarely at the classic car and van enthusiast.
A key feature of Rocket Caravans products is their adaptability and flexibility which allows the products to be used for a wide variety of applications far and beyond the obvious camping in style. Brooks Guest House in Bristol has four Rockets on its roof which it uses as additional hotel rooms, all lifted up and put in place by crane, top marks for ingenuity! It is also possible to have a Rocket fabricated in kit form which makes them the ideal choice to be assembled indoors and used at a wide variety of venues as mobile catering units. Rocket Caravans have built units for household names such as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Selfridges Birmingham, and in Dubai Airport for Giraffe restaurants; they certainly make a very cool catering van indeed.
Over two hundred Rockets have been built so far and the products really do have a universal and international appeal with over 50 per cent of these having been sold overseas. The company currently has distribution in Australia, New Zealand, UAE, USA, Thailand and most European countries, which is a fantastic success for a British manufacturer. Although Rocket Caravans create a multi use product, the company intends to focus on the leisure market over the next few years in an effort to increase market share in this area and is developing an exciting new range of touring caravans.
Since 2012 all trailers built by Rocket have conformed to the VOSA/DVSA roadworthiness test and all relevant EU directives, and above and beyond the required standards Rocket have invested in obtaining full European Type Approval for all of their touring caravans. The trailers comprise of a TIG welded aluminium space-frame, which is lightweight but also strong, tailored to the customer’s design, such as where they would like the door and windows and any other features that may require additional strength. The body is then skinned, and painted if required, then water tested intensively to ensure that there are no leaks. There are no bonded joints on a Rocket which are the Achilles heel of most caravans of modern construction. The Caravans are insulated using only Welsh Sheep wool and then the customer’s chosen fit and finish is installed from lighting, gas, electrics and any other requirements that they have specified for their individual trailer.
The iconic Airstream travel trailers seen on screen and in print were always polished aluminium and glinting in the sunlight, and while many Rocket Caravan customers opt for this classic look more and more customers are having their individual caravan painted, which gives you the opportunity to stand out and even to match up with your towing vehicle. Although there is an additional cost to painting, it is worth remembering that the polished aluminium caravans will need a professional machine polish to maintain their mirror finish every few years.
Owners of Rocket caravans certainly stand out from the crowd and are often asked about their unusual cool units, and are regularly photographed by occupants of passing cars, but hey when your caravan looks this good there’s no need to hide. Prices for these modern classics start at £18,450 + VAT for a body shell only MINI-Plus Tourer, up to £27,950 + VAT for the Starship on the same basis.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Peter Carrick for his help and input to this article and would recommend that you check out Rocket Caravans if you fancy standing out from the crowd and showing off your cool credentials. You can visit Rocket Caravans at their purpose built Kidderminster factory by visiting their website, details below, and completing the online appointment form.
Unit 4, Easter Park, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY11 7AR