The motto for both the lucky owners and the builder of this special van could well be, “If something’s worth doing it's worth doing well.”
When Dee and Steve commissioned their new van, they entrusted the task to the team at Spinifex on Queensland’s Deception Bay, just north of Brisbane. They had already owned a 20ft 6in Spinifex Epix after hearing about the brand from happy owners on an around-Australia trip in 2018 where the van they were travelling let them down.
After enjoying the Epix for a year, they decided they wanted something more substantial. Their time with the Spinifex proved the capability of the van and the build quality, but their next van was going to take them on lengthy escapes to distant corners of the country, and they wanted to do it in maximum style. The result is the most impressive van I have reviewed in 2020, probably ever, so they met their goal and then some.
There is a lot of the couple’s input through the van, and when we met in the hills west of Brisbane for this review, they were full of praise for the dedication Spinifex lavished on their custom build. Although the model name is actually a Nomadix Premier 26, Steve even got his way when the model was unique enough to be branded as the Sprint in recognition of his background as a speedway sprint car racer.
In a step into the unknown for the company, the Sprint wears a striking Radiance Blue livery to go with the colour of Dee and Steve’s Ram tow vehicle. Most Spinifex vans are white, with a few grey versions sneaking into the mix, so the big blue van and custom Ram look striking when hooked up for the road.
It has to be said though, that the van doesn’t need the brightly coloured fibreglass cladding to stand out; it truly is enormous. Add in the high riding Cruisemaster ATX suspension and a plethora of storage boxes and extras, and you simply can’t miss it, especially with the imposing Ram leading the way. Overall, the van measures 10.2m and the total length on the road surpasses 17m.
Construction is the tried and proven Spinifex riveted aluminium frame and roof on a very stable twin-beam 75 x 50mm chassis. The extended A-frame is a single 150 x 50mm section with extra bracing at the stress points where it meets the caravan body. Built from Australian Blue Scope steel, the chassis is designed and made in-house before being sent to be hot-dip galvanised in Brisbane.
The advantages of an alloy frame in an offroad van include the ability to withstand the movement and vibrations of rough road travel and the much more enduring quality of the build if there was ever water ingress over deep crossings. An alloy frame won’t rot, and the van should still be serviceable for many years to come.
Insulating foam fills the gaps between the aluminium structure and a single sheet of 4mm fibreglass forms the exterior while the floor is a 20mm sheet of composite material. Steve specified the lower exterior alloy panels with a black hammer tone finish to improve the look and make them easier to keep clean.
Cruisemaster’s ATX suspension, rated to 4.5T, uses independently adjustable airbags and twin shock absorbers to smooth the ride. The ride height can be adjusted and when hooked to the Savvylevel app can perfectly level the van when camped — although, ‘camping’ may not adequately describe a night spent in this Spinifex.
A set of upmarket black alloy American Outlaw 18in wheels are shod with BF Goodridge 285/65 x18 KO2 tyres, and the show comes to a halt with the help of 12in ventilated disc brakes on all wheels.
Seven water tanks spread out under the chassis are made up of five 80L freshwater, an 80L grey and a 150L black holding tank to serve a Thetford Silence Plus macerating toilet system. Because water quality can vary much as you travel around the country, the couple prefers to use bottled water on trips.
The connection to the Ram has come in for some special treatment. A Five-tonne rated Hitch-Ezy coupling matches to an Air Safe receiver that uses an airbag to reduce impact from the hefty van when travelling.
Based on Steve’s philosophy that if there’s a blank wall or space anywhere, it should be used, things are busy but well ordered all around the exterior. A stone guard protects the gas bottles at the A-frame and also shields the Hydrastar booster to power the disc brakes. A large toolbox has a slide-out drawer for quick access to a big collection of spares and equipment, while on the drivers side there’s another slide for the generator.
Along the near side, two small hatches house poles for the annexe and would be an excellent spot for a couple of fishing rods. Twin picnic tables are handy to a slide for the kitchen with its twin burner cooktop and Webber barbeque. You might notice in the photos there’s no sink here, as all washing up is done inside where there’s plenty of room. Further back is an outside pantry for the most-used condiments, and it even has its own holder for paper towels.
External 12 and 240V power and TV points and a Fusion sound system share a hatch for the main Cruisemaster air controls with a takeoff point for pumping the van tyres. Finally, at the back is a high and wide storage box for chairs and the annex. There’s a single spare, and it’s stored under the A-frame, rather than down the back, for better weight distribution.
The Sprint 26 is 26 feet (7.93m) of upmarket living space with a central ensuite, impressive rear living quarters and a front bedroom. It’s a very comfortable retreat with some custom features and a superb finish to all joinery and upholstery.
At the entry, a leather-clad club lounge takes pride of place across the rear. It’s a roomy and relaxing space that wraps around a sturdy Nova Mappa table that drops to make an occasional bed. Windows either side give sweeping views of the countryside, but for practical reasons, there’s no rear-facing window. It’s an option, but the owners prefer not to have a window that’s always going to be covered in dust and too high to easily keep clean.
One thing that’s obvious in a van as big as the Nomadix 26 is the generous amount of kitchen space. Dee and Steve have customised the layout for long term travel and ease of use with a full oven, benches and generous refrigeration on the driver’s side and a long countertop with a black designer sink opposite. A couple of custom pull-out rubbish bins help keep things tidy, and there’s also a dedicated dirty clothes basket for an added touch of home.
Refrigeration includes a Vitrifrigo 157L fridge, an Isotherm 70L drawer fridge for drinks and an isotherm 70L drawer freezer. As well as lots of low benches, high storage cupboards wrap around the interior, so there is loads of room for supplies.
The central section of the van has a compact ensuite opposite a set of bunks for the grandkids when they tag along. The bunks have side curtains and individual DVD players, and when the young un’s are absent, they are great for added storage.
Some may wonder at the smallish size of the bathroom, but it’s a solution for a practical couple preferring a larger living space than loads of room for drying off after a shower. Anyway, an outside shower offers an unlimited open space if you prefer. While compact, there’s still space for a 2kg washing machine, the macerating toilet and a handsome vanity.
A door gives privacy to the front bedroom where a walk around queen bed has an innerspring mattress, and the usual set of bedside tables and cupboards. Separate air conditioners service each end of the van, and there’s gas heating for winter climates.
SOLAR AND LITHIUM
From the beginning, Spinifex has always been about having the right equipment to get away from civilisation and exist off-grid, so it’s no surprise the latest Nomadix range has class-leading solar and battery power on tap. Five roof-mounted panels through a 40A Redarc charger can churn out 750W of power in the right conditions, while three 225Ah lithium batteries hooked up to a 3000W 120A inverter can run most appliances when you need them.
Steve reckons on running both air conditioners for four hours or a single one for up to nine hours. A coffee machine becomes a no brainer when you have this much power, and the generator only comes into play if there’s a week of crook weather.
ALL THE ENTERTAINMENT OF HOME
Two 32in HD smart televisions are mounted to walls in the living room and bedroom. Connected to an Oyster satellite system that delivers free to air and Foxtel, there’s plenty of viewing from anywhere. Sound plays through speakers inside, and out through a Fusion MS-AV755 Bluetooth DVD player.
For better phone reception a Celfi-go mobile phone booster and a Telstra 4G modem should keep you online longer.
USB chargers are fitted throughout, and the bedside tables have wireless chargers for phones.
The van has a three-year manufacturer warranty, and that’s amongst the best around. However, appliances and suspension are covered by the relevant suppliers, but customers are directed to Spinifex, who then do their part in getting a remedy.
Anecdotal evidence tells me that Spinifex is one of the best in the business for warranty claims, even if their warranty document is a bit open-ended.
Tare is 3600kg so with a carrying capacity of 890kg the maximum weight is 4490kg, which would make most tow vehicles ineligible. The Ram can tow this size van legally and efficiently, but it requires a light truck licence, which both Dee and Steve have.
While the 890kg might sound generous, it’s worthwhile keeping in mind that the freshwater tanks will take up 600kg of that, so it would be wise to only top up nearer to your destination.
Steve put the rig through its paces over rough ground and some farm roads for our video and photography shoot, before handing over the keys for a run through the countryside. The big Ram is superbly comfortable and has ample power to effortlessly move around 4000kg of Spinifex from a start and up steep hills. It wasn’t hard for me to be mindful that it takes up plenty of road, and the all-up replacement cost approaches $450,000, so I didn’t set any speed records or challenge the offroad capability. Even so, it was easy to see why US-style trucks are finding favour for towing these increasingly heavy vans.
One look at the big blue Spinifex says it’s something special. Coming in at $225,000 with a raft of options, it may not suit every budget, and not everyone wants to tow a rig of this size, with the complications of parking and access. For those with the time to use it properly and a suitable bank balance, it’s a van that offers comfort and space for super relaxing weekends away or when hitting the road for the big lap.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 10.5m (34ft 5in)
External body length 7.9m (26ft 3in)
External body width 2.44m (8ft) (inc roll out awning)
Travel height 3.1m (10ft 2in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Payload 890kg (calculated)
Ball weight 400kg
Cladding 4mm core matte fibreglass
Chassis dual 75mm beam hot-dip galvanized
Suspension Cruise Master ATX
Coupling Hitch Ezy 5T
Wheels 18x9 Outlaw Legacy wheels 285/65/R18 BFG KO2 tyres
Water 400L Fresh/80L grey/150L Black
Battery 3 x 225Ah lithium
Solar 5 x 175W
Air conditioner Trauma Adventa Comfort x 2
Gas 2 x 9kg bottles, 2 x external bayonets
Sway control No
Cooking Swift 3+1 cooktop / grill / fan forced oven
Fridge 160L Vitrofrigo / 70L Isotherm / 70L Isotherm Freezer Microwave No
Bathroom Macerating Toilet/one-piece moulded fibreglass shower
Washing machine Daewoo 2kg wall mount
Hot water Trauma Aqua Go Comfort Plus Instant
Slide out kitchen with 2 x burner cooktop provision for Webber
Rear storage box
Mood strip lighting under cupboards and seating
2 x pole carriers fitted internally in front of the van
Upgraded Fusion stereo sound system
Window awnings to offside windows
Black tapware and sink
PRICE FROM $168,880
PRICE FROM $225,000.00
21–23 Imboon St, Deception Bay QLD 4508
Ph: 07 38882221