During the early 1980s, Keith Leggate built specialised race cars for the legendary Peter Brock before joining Bob Jane in the formative days of NASCAR engineering and construction. He has also worked for the iconic Jim Richards and Robin Best, and several race car teams.
“I was taught by engineers,” Leggate said. “Everything was precision; we had to do it right.”
Roll on three decades and Leggate holds true to these philosophies in the manufacturing of camper trailers and caravans. He established Southern Land Campers in Victoria in 2008, initially building offroad camper trailers and, in 2012, also started building caravans.
“I noticed that the RV industry was growing, and I’ve long held a passion for offroad camping,” Leggate said. “I also had a deep-rooted ambition to build a caravan somewhere down the track. But I wanted to make one that won’t fall apart, just like you would want a race car to last at Bathurst… it’s the same principle, and that’s why we get down to the finer details with our campers and vans. We weld the framework rather than rivet and we use nuts and bolts, not screws.”
Leggate’s values and beliefs are certainly reflected in the craftsmanship of the new PT 12 – a lightweight, offroad, pop-top, hybrid caravan. After testing out the PT 12, I can categorically state this 3.66m (12ft) pocket-rocket is big in heart.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Its lightweight aluminium composite panel and black powder-coated steel propeller plate skirt gleamed and, when I ventured inside, I was treated to a world of colour – from the green corduroy seating to sand-speckled Laminex benchtops and latte acrylic cabinetry.
The PT 12 has three double-glazed windows with built-in screens and blinds, a triple locking entry door, a Prostor pull-out awning, and holds 130L of water. There is also a large steel stone deflector, jerry can holders, external tap and two 4.5kg gas cylinders on the A-frame, mudflaps front and back, and two recovery points. Storage space is abundant in the exterior stowage lockers, and there’s even a dirty gear locker for items such as the jockey wheel.
An external Anderson plug allows charging from a portable solar panel, and the spare tyre has a pulley system (wind-up winch) for easy removal and remounting – something I wish we saw more often on modern caravans.
Setting up and hitching up the van was a dream thanks to the DO35 Hitchmaster hitch allowing great manoeuvrability, and a heavy-duty jockey wheel making for effortless unhitching. Setting up the van is also a very simple process – four drop-down legs and a simple roll-out awning. Lifting the roof is also made easy with a lifter bar, allowing it to be completed by one person.
The external kitchen, with pantry, is a chef’s delight. The slide-out barbecue doubles as a two-burner stove and roaster, a stainless steel sink is plumbed to hot and cold water, and there is a massive storage area for a fridge or generator.
I was also suitably impressed with the external ensuite at the rear, which allows for more interior space. And setting it up is effortless: simply unlatch the flap at the rear of the van, which then rises on struts, and drop down the tent. The ensuite is also floored to keep out any nasties and access is via a side door; it’s a real winner for a hybrid of this size to have a bathroom, and a credit to the designers for fitting it in.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The extremely durable PT 12 epitomises attention to detail in finish and quality. And for its price of $68,000, buyers get a comfortable, custom-made, offroad van, with the option to spec it up with added airbag-assisted roof lifters, a lithium battery system, TV system or an air-conditioning unit.
The PT 12 is built tough and has enhanced functions as a result of its hybrid ‘cross-breeding’. It fills a niche for buyers looking for the comforts of a caravan with the accessibility of a camper trailer, something that is certainly necessary for many of Australia’s more remote outback tracks.
- Internal/external cooking
- Fully-welded aluminium frame
- Lightweight hybrid
- No internal toilet
- Entry door is very high – a drop-down step would help
The full test appears in Caravan World #544 Decemeber 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!