Conventional caravanners, beware. Turning up at a site near you soon could well be one of these.
It’s called a T@B (aka TAB), it comes from Germany’s Knaus-Tabbert company, and – if you don’t mind a bit of metaphor mixing – it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea of white boxes.
It’s not exactly new, either, but it certainly has a timeless quality. This is a specific variant of the three-berth T@B 400 that’s being imported to the UK by Airstream and Co, the company best known for its… well, you’ve obviously guessed. You’ve probably also surmised it fits the Airstream bill of being silver, iconic and, frankly, like nothing else you can get.
But, unlike its even shiner, even more expensive, even heavier new stablemates, this T@B is light enough to be towed by most cars (and it does indeed tow well – shock absorbers are standard, but it’s probably more to do with its teardrop shape), although that chassis could be upgraded a further 100kg to 1300kg should you wish.
Those overall contours, porthole windows and smart silver finish are really only the start of the story here. Inside, a few preconceptions have been dashed, too.
Hence, there’s a full-size, permanent double bed across the back (with lots of storage underneath, and it’s easily accessible – although an exterior-access hatch is only an option), while the lounge is offset and angled – it’s still not the largest, but it’s cosy for two who simply do not want to be in mundane surroundings.
There are a handful of UK agents for T@B, but Airstream and Co is the newest, and the TD is its own take on the larger 400 model (the tiny 320 is also available).
Expect to see Airstream and Co versions kitted out something along these lines here – with that all-important silver paintwork, alloy wheels and all kinds of options for bike carrying etc.
Also on board here is the Autark Pack, which upgrades the 12V electrics side of things significantly and also includes a Truma boiler operating from gas/230V. You’re looking at a net weight gain of around 50kg, so payload is still a reasonable enough 150kg.
Plenty of clever touches abound. The lighting, for example: the pendant fitting over the lounge can be adjusted to any height, as well as stowed away for travel; there’s ambient lighting everywhere; and the single reading light over the bed is one of the best. The bed itself is a firm but comfortable, generously sized at 1.95m x .70m, and lifts easily on hydraulics for spacious under-bed storage.
The kitchen and washroom are equally smart but simple, bearing in mind it’s all pretty compact.
It all adds up to a rather special tourer, and although this model starts from £14,795 on the road once you add some necessary extras a more “realistic” cost is going to be well over £17,000. But, maybe that’s the price you pay for standing out from the mainstream. You can still argue that, on the basis of its million dollars good looks, it’s a bit of a bargain.
Bear in mind that this caravan as tested costs £17,560 and as such would require extra caravan security in order for Caravan Guard to quote for insurance, however you would recieve a 5% insurance discount for the fitment of an alarm.
Both retro and modern, here’s a real head-turner that also works well. It’s got the looks… and perhaps it’s no surprise to see it’s got the price tag to match. It’s also pretty well put together and works well. Dare to be different?
Plus: Eye-catching looks. Well-built. Some lovely design touches. Lightweight. Style-conscious
Minus: Not cheap
Summed up in one word: Individualistic
Cost to insure the T@B 400TD: £316*
- Price from £14,795 on the road (£17,560, as tested)
- Berths: 3
- Overall length: 5.71m
- Body length: 4.83m
- Width: 2.24m
- Headroom: 1.90m
- MIRO: 1000kg
- MTPLM: 1200kg
- Key options: Silver Colour Kit £720, Alloy wheels £490, Autark Pack £1,480, Isabella canopy/awning £425/£1,295
- Seecurity and safety: Single-key operation, AKS 1300 stabiliser
- Alternatives: Airstream Bambi 422, Bailey Orion Evo-4, Going Cockpit
For further information visit www.airstreamandco.com
*Caravan insurance cost based on T@B 400TD, £17,560. Fitted with hitchlock, wheel clamp and alarm. Kept on drive at HX4 0BE. Caravanners over 30 years old, claim free for 3 years and a member of a caravanning club. Quote includes 10% online discount and 6% Insurance Premium Tax and is correct as of 23.07.12.