Dick ready to dish dirt
Dick Smith is going off road, writesMARKHINCHLIFFE
BUY Australian stalwart Dick Smith is going adventuring in a Gold Coast-built motorhome. Paradise Motorhomes managing director Colin McLean says Smith ordered an Inspiration motorhome which will be ready for delivery in a couple of months.
Smith’s motorhome is based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 515CDI but with a widened cab similar to the premium range for better streamlining.
‘‘Apparently he likes to get off road as well and Paradise build the underside of their motorhomes to cope with those Australian conditions,’’ he says.
‘‘The warranty even covers driving on dirt roads, whereas most manufacturers’ warranties are terminated once the driver goes off a sealed road because they’re not strong enough.’’
He also confirms they are working on a four-wheel-drive version.
Paradise Motorhomes builds motorhomes to order and customers can go to the factory to see their motorhome being built.
‘‘I know Dick Smith will be arranging a few viewings while his is in the workshop,’’ McLean says.
Models in their lower to mid-price range had been a big success in the past year.
‘‘Though budgets have taken a bit of a battering in the economic downturn, Australians aren’t prepared to compromise on taste— they still want top-quality fittings, unique features such as island beds which they can walk around and little luxuries such as satellite TV and built-in coffee machines,’’ he says.
McLean retired from his career in motor engineering and design in 2002. He wanted to buy a top-range motorhome to go touring in, but couldn’t find anything that lived up to his expectations.
After deciding to build his own luxury motorhome, he realised there was a gap in the market and set up his family-run company. His designs now range from about $100,000 to $850,000 and won Motorhome of the Year in 2004, ’05 and ’06.
Paradise Motorhomes sells about 60 vehicles a year and has doubled its sales since relocating to a new manufacturing facility on the Gold Coast in 2007 and expanding into New Zealand with the signing of a distribution deal last year.
It has 15 registered designs and McLean claims it was first to design an islander bed in a van, the first with a rear slide-out bathroom and the first vehicle with slide-outs that could be driven on a car licence.
‘‘The islander bed is hugely popular because when the bed is wedged up against two walls — like it was in every model I saw when I was looking to buy a motorhome — then one person of the couple can’t get into or out of bed without having to jump over the other one,’’ he says.