This year was no exception with a range of large vehicles to wow and inspire the crowds when they came through, both imported models and custom-built bespoke quality Kiwi-built models.
One in particular that took my eye on the Kiwi Autohomes and ACM stand was the big IVECO 70 – actually it was hard to miss because it was hoisted high off the ground, and the wonderful coloured exterior in dark brown/black/bronze/orange and white certainly took the eye.
This beauty featured something I really liked – high tech, individually driven hydraulic lifting levellers, which at the push of a button operate individually to level the vehicle on just about any slope you might imagine. What a Godsend if you had to change a tyre on a ve-hicle this big! Just select the right unit, and it will lift that area for you. From experience you still need to be Superman to man-handle a motorhome tyre, but this would certainly help.
Talking with Keran Miller from Kiwi Autohomes I find this model is the latest to be built by Auckland Coach and Motorhomes (ACM) and their largest build to date.
ACM are the manufacturers of all the motorhomes in the Kiwi Autohomes rental fleet, as well as the new Platinum and Sapphire mo-torhome range available for sale. Keran and Chris Cunard from ACM, work closely on the design and quality build aspects of this range of motorhomes, building vehicles specific for our New Zealand conditions. ACM also do repairs, refits, damage and insurance repairs, as well as installing accessories to motorhomes, caravans, horse trucks, and they even build food trucks.
This model has been designed with input from ACM’s new design and business systems man, Grant Wakerley. Grant joined the ACM team after meeting Chris and wife Jasmine when he returned from a few years working in PNG. Readers may recognize the Wakerley name from the bespoke quality motorhomes often seen on the roads around the country, which, until 2013, were built in Tauranga.
After a meeting of minds, ideology and passion for the motor home industry and its end users, Grant is thrilled to be back on the de-sign side of RV building, working with Chris and his team. He is happy to share his experience and passion for perfection with Chris in the ACM manufacturing environment.
Grant has joined the company at a time when it’s well under way with growth and development. When I first met Chris five years ago, he was operating out of a small 150sq. m. factory near the airport. Since that time, the factory has expanded up to a 400sq. m. area, with the production of their own motorhomes as well as the repairs/installations/insurance work, and in April this year they were scheduled to move again to a larger property that will meet all their growing needs.
The successful relationship with Kiwi Autohomes, making niche motorhomes that work for their owners (even putting a piano in one as we saw at last year’s Covi show and reviewed in this magazine) as well as being a major refurbishment and repair business to the larger RV industry, has given ACM a strong base to operate from.
If you dream it, they’ll try to make it happen, within the limits of physical reality of course.
Platinum 8.3 metre
Based on the large IVECO Daily chassis 70C and powered by a big 3.0 litre turbo 153kW/470Nm engine with Hi-Matic 8-speed auto transmission (ZF), I have no doubt this bad boy gets up and boogies. Two of the requirements specified by the owner were no crawling up hills at low speed, and must be able to tow something if required, and this certainly fulfils those requirements. Adjustable headlights and fog lights with a smart cornering function, heated and electrically adjusted mirrors, and daytime running lights are standard on this model IVECO chassis.
The body is built with a fully-insulated steel frame floor, with a one-piece fibreglass under-floor belly, so water ingress issues aren’t a worry. The walls have an aluminium-framed 3mm fibreglass exterior and the interior has vacuum formed sandwich panels. Windows are large double-glazed acrylic awning style that offer expansive viewing from inside. The C’vana awning is substantial as well and runs the length of the body, and large exterior boot storage ticks all the ‘must have’ boxes.
Access to the interior is via a Dometic habitation door (with an integrated fly screen) via a pin-entry access pad that is also linked to the central locking from the front cabs doors, and that’s just the start of the technology within. Push the electric step bottom on the right and you have easy access to the nautical teak steps.
My first thought was: Wow, this is just like a luxury super yacht!
Being inside an exhibition hall, the van’s interior was in nighttime light mode that looked sleek and sexy. LED technology today is being put to brilliant effect in motorhomes. The floor runs flat from the front cab through to the rear, and the same nautical teak flooring as the entrance stairs features in front of the kitchen bench area and in the bathroom as well – such a luxury finish. The living area is carpeted.
To the left of the entry are stairs going up to the over-cab master bed area, complete with its own TV, roof vents and windows. To the right behind the driver’s cab seat is comfortable seating for two passengers with seat belts. Opposite the entry door is the bathroom area with separate shower, top quality black fittings within, and a glass shower door.
The kitchen bench is on the right immediately inside the door, and a nice touch is the rounded-edge to the bench space at this end, and the rounded wall at the end of the bathroom turning to the fridge area. The bench top is a quality Coran solid surface with formed sink and drainer. A four-burner full oven/grill takes care of all cooking needs, under the bench are drawers and cupboards, and there are pull-out pantries on both ends, with locker storage above as well. The black tapware is a touch of class once again, and a lighting panel on the ceiling above the work area is practical as well.
The rear of the vehicle is all big windows with seriously comfortable long lounge settees, and a removable dining table option for meal times. This area converts to either two single beds, or one very large bed as required.
This is where the bespoke build really kicks in: we noted the luxury teak flooring straightaway on entry, and the rich, quality leather seating is just sumptuous. No pleather/eco leather or cheap imitations here – quality like this could run to $15 maybe even $20K, and it does the job beautifully.
I love strong colours myself, so this resonated with me.
The finish of the cupboards and walls, and the colours work so well together it results in an interior that stands out as a luxurious quality apartment that anyone would be over the moon to be in.
This is a brilliant example of how the team of Keran (Kiwi Autohomes) and Chris, Jasmine and now Grant Wakerley (ACM) work to-gether with clients to build vehicles which enable the owners to fulfil their dreams and enjoy their passion, in dream motor homes that are a pleasure to drive.
I’ve seen their version of super-yacht cool and luxurious, and I’ve met the owners of the ACM Platinum motorhome with their piano installed inside. Look out people – clearly synergies have aligned in Kiwi RV land, and there’s a force to be reckoned with developing here.
Platinum 8.3, $308k
- IVECO Daily chassis 70C
- 3.0L diesel turbo 153kW/480Nm with Hi-Matic, 8-speed auto transmission
- Thetford swivel 20L cassette, electric flush toilet
- Full size separate shower with glass doors
- Fresh and grey water 300L
- 300W solar panel with dual battery system 500 amp/hour deep cycle battery
- 2.2kw Eberspacher diesel heater
- 12v LED top and bottom mood lighting
- Fully automatic night lighting
- Finscan controller
- 185L 3-way auto fridge/freezer
2 rear singles (2000x700mm) or 1 rear double (2000x2200mm). Over cab double (2100 x 1400mm).