When I saw the first Goldy caravan prototypes at the Brisbane Show in 2021, there were dozens of couples lined up to have a look. As more people approached, their faces immediately lit up with big smiles when they saw the two pastel-coloured vans on display. It took some a while to realise these weren’t beautiful restorations. Instead, they were a modern take on a 60s Franklin with contemporary composite construction and a happy mix of stylish accessories.
Goldy founder Jamie Driver has long had a passion for old-school automobiles and had a career bringing classic cars back to life. This led to restoring a mix of early Millard, Franklin and Viscount vans for a couple of years before he realised that getting parts was time-consuming and increasingly expensive.
He began exploring the challenge of building new vans that looked old. The idea appealed because he had complete control of the process and the quality and durability of the finished product. After all, a 60s van will always be the original flimsy construction if the rebuild is genuinely authentic.
Jamie’s love of classic cars and 60s vans was born from the belief that the early designers had different values. It’s easy to agree that the 50s and 60s gave birth to beautiful vehicles with a timeless appeal. It’s the smooth-flowing curves of the Franklin on which the Goldy is based, combined with nostalgic colour combinations that stop people in their tracks. The van takes its name from the business location on the Gold Coast — or the Goldy as it’s known to locals.
After making the two prototypes from his home, Jamie moved into a small factory to begin production. He has since moved again and now operates with a close-knit team of four with a plan to expand over the next few months. The current output is a van a week, but lead times are growing as with all builders.
If you’ve ever seen the chassis of most original 60s vans, you’d be forgiven for wondering how many of them have lasted this long, because the C-section chassis is ultra-light compared to what we see today. The Goldy chassis is a much more robust design, produced locally from engineer-certified drawings from Australian 75mm x 50mm box section DuraGal steel. The chassis and underfloor are coated with a rubberised compound for added durability. The suspension is a single axle leaf spring system rated to 1600kg.
The body construction is also utterly modern. The old-school vans used a lightweight aluminium frame with a raised profile alloy cladding and the barest amount of insulation. Instead, the Goldy uses the same composite panels found in refrigerated trucks and many modern mainstream caravans. The panels are locally sourced and are CNC cut to a similar but slightly larger shape as a 16ft Franklin Regent. While it’s not an exact replica, only a dedicated vintage van spotter would know the difference.
The roof, too, is the same composite insulating material, but it needs special treatment to achieve the curved shape of the roofline. To allow it to bend, the roof panel has slots cut into the underside in a process that takes 12 hours on a CNC machine.
The review van has a form ply floor, but I’m told the company is moving to a Thermo-Lite ‘Elephant Skin’ composite that weighs less and has marine-grade resilience.
The wall and roof panels assembled on the chassis are permanently bonded together to form a single entity using high-quality German glue. A fibreglass skin then connects under the ceiling for a neat finish.
The furniture is made from PVC foamboard, as used in the boating industry, so it’s durable, waterproof and has a contemporary look. Tasmanian Oak detailing completes the impressive interior design.
Windows are a Camec product that is uncannily close in looks to the original. But they have had the Goldy treatment to match the old-school theme. The team removes the rounded double-glazed acrylic and replaces it with flat clear panels, making it look true to style.
I’m still looking for someone who doesn’t think the van looks stunningly beautiful. The smooth composite walls are clad in a choice of four pastel colours that fit right in with the theme. White wall tyres and spats around the wheel arches add to the style, while the minimalist rear-end treatment sees big windows and retro style but bright LED lights. The spare sits on the A-frame where you might expect some gas bottles, but Jamie doesn’t like the idea of gas in a van, so everything on board is electric. Winding down the corner steadies when camping is important, though. The van is light enough to push around on hard ground by hand, so you need the steadies to stop the whole thing tipping up when someone is inside.
There’s not much for the designer to play with in a 16ft van, so the layout in the review van is simple with a dinette at the front and an east-west bed at the back. In the middle is a kitchenette on the driver’s side and an ensuite opposite.
Considering the diminutive nature of the Goldy, there’s a surprising feeling of roominess inside. Even more remarkable is that original 60s vans of this size didn’t have an ensuite. Part of the spacious feeling is how the front and back walls balloon from the floor and flow over the ceiling. The high roof height at the centre of the van also helps here.
Anyone stepping aboard will be delighted with the size of the front dinette. There’s room to sit four or remove the table, lay back and take in the view through the 180-degree panorama of oversized windows. Most photos in Goldy’s promotional material show a van parked right on a beach, and many buyers will be enticed by the image.
The table drops to make a ‘nearly’ double bed that younger family members would enjoy. As a day bed with the sun streaming in over winter, it’s a perfect timeout hideaway.
In its standard form, the van is destined for caravan parks, so a basic 12V system runs lights and some USB points for charging. If you want to get away by yourself, option up to solar panels, lithium battery water tanks and an inverter.
The kitchen is simple. An art deco 240V fridge will keep drinks cool once you are hooked up to power in a caravan park, so if you’re planning on free camping, bring an esky. The timber benchtop has a circular stainless-steel sink with a vintage-style mixer, room for a kettle and toaster and a portable induction cooktop, so think breakfast, cafe dining and outside barbecues rather than dinner parties. Bench and overhead cupboards can store your supplies, and there’s more cupboard space over the bed and the dinette.
The original Goldy concept envisaged a portable external shower room attached to the driver’s side of the van. Feedback proved this was unpopular, and while it remains an option, the preferred choice has been an internal ensuite as on our review van. Those wanting a pared-back and cheaper alternative can go with the standard van with an ample storage cupboard instead and use the facilities in a caravan park. You will also add water tanks, a water heater and a pump for the ensuite. Either way, a portable toilet is provided.
The light weight of the van means existing owners tow with a diverse range of vehicles, including a short-wheelbase Jeep and a Mazda CX3, and there’s a build coming up that will match to a ‘31 Ford Roadster. That should look something special!
It’s a Wrap
Our time with the Goldy felt like being on an Elvis beach movie set, and I half expected Ursula Andress to make an entrance. The Goldy is like that. It transports you to a simpler time when you didn’t need a coffee maker or humidifier to have a fun weekend away. Price for Caravan World readers starts at $69,990 and a van loaded with options like an ensuite, solar, lithium and water tanks will be $89,990. That’s fair for a handmade, boutique van with classic styling and an air of exclusivity. If it encourages you to take that all-important down time, then it’s worth every cent.
The Goldy is ideal for couples’ weekend escapes and can also be set up for the more adventurous. There’s room to spread out for serious relaxing, and its light weight makes it easy to tow by an extensive range of smaller vehicles.
HITS AND MISSES
- Easily towed by smaller vehicles
- Beautiful finish and style
- Lots of windows for a light and airy feeling
- Minimal self-sufficiency as standard
Goldy 16ft Beach Cruiser Ratings
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Goldy is a niche van with lots of street style and a modern sturdy build. It compares well in price to some restoration projects and might have better durability
Easily towed by smaller vehicles, lightweight and good balance
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Will mainly be used as a weekender and for caravan parks, fits the use perfectly
Looks stunning with a good attention to detail
For a 16ft van it has lots of room to move
Intended for short stays but can be optioned for longer touring
Small company with personal attention to potential problem solving
A fresh approach to old-school design
Attracts lots of happy smiles everywhere it goes
GOLDY 16FT BEACH CRUISER SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Overall length||5.80m (19ft)|
|External body length||4.87m (16ft)|
|External body width||2.25m (7ft 4in)|
|Travel height||2.75m (9ft)|
|Internal height||2.06m (6ft 7in)|
|Chassis||DuraGal® Custom Chassis|
|Suspension||7 leaf Eye to Eye Spring 1600kg|
|Coupling||2000kg Mechanical Override Coupling|
|Brakes||LoadForce Disc Hubs and Brakes|
|Wheels||Smoothie Rim, Dress Ring, Hubcap and White Wall tyres|
|Water||2 x 62L tanks (fresh/fresh or fresh/grey)|
|Battery||100Ah or 200Ah Lithium|
|Solar||350W Flexible Panels|
|Air-conditioner||Ducted Reverse Cycle Truma Saphir|
|Cooking||Portable induction cooktop|
|Fridge||Retro custom Goldy fridge|
|Bathroom||Optional — ensuite with portable toilet and fixed shower|
|Washing machine||Optional — portable|
|Hot water||Duoetto Mk2 or Aqueous Mk2|
Goldy 16ft Beach Cruiser price from $69,990.00
- Sirocco II fans
- Retro-style side awning
- Water tanks
- Pump and heater
- 200Ah battery
- Solar panels
- Paint protection film
- And more
Goldy 16ft Beach Cruiser price as shown $89,990.00
THE NEXT STEP
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