We explore the Snowy Mountains and the NSW south coast in a 1760 Panther from Goldstream RV
Inching our way in low range down the steep Woila Creek Fire Trail with the Goldstream Panther hitched to my Landcruiser, I was glad not to be towing a more massive caravan. The single lane gravel track was relatively broad and in good condition, but the miles of steep descent take their toll on the brakes and the giddying drop-offs test your nervous system.
The Panther is Goldstream’s answer for those couples looking for a compact and straightforward touring van with strong off-road potential. Its 2193kg tare weight and a body length of 17’6” has the benefit of being easy to tow and it proved very manoeuvrable in tight situations. What’s more, the poptop roof presents a low profile to the wind for better fuel economy and more accessible storage in average size sheds.
Our review of the Panther had taken us northeast from the Goldstream factory in Pakenham on Melbourne’s outskirts to the Snowy Mountains of NSW. We then tackled the wilds of Wadbilliga National Park and the beautiful Sapphire Coast before heading back to the factory through the Gippsland forests. The test extended over nearly two weeks, so we had plenty of time to appreciate the van’s attributes. This was the latest of many reports we have undertaken of various models from the factory over the years, and once again we were impressed with the reliability and durability of the Goldstream RV range.
Goldstream RV has been making campers, vans and poptops since the nineties and the test version sits in their poptop range that runs between 15’ and 18’6”- the 1500 to the twin axle 1860 – all of which can be optioned extensively to suit customer needs. Our test van was a rear door rear ensuite (RD RE) design but there numerous configurations from which to choose including even a bunk bed version for families and other variations of ensuite size and door location. And while the standard on road model has loads of features, you can customise each model to suit your style of travel and your budget with an almost endless list of options.
For additional strength and reliability in rougher environments, our Panther was built on a 150mm x 500 chassis with an upgraded Cruisemaster XT independent coil suspension rated to 2600kg. Larger brakes, 16” alloy wheels with off road tyres and a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch complete the off road package.
The Goldstream’s frame is 19mm meranti timber, protected by panels of composite aluminium with well-sealed joins at the corners. All the internal furniture is formed on a CNC machine from lightweight Poplar ply and is securely glued and screwed into place.
High ground clearance and a pair of bold chunky tyres mounted on the rear transform the poptop into a purposeful looking rig despite the rather staid white and silver colour scheme, and even without the cutaway rear and black checkerplate sides that most of the Panthers display. I like the low line appearance and how the lower roof has less chance of being hung up in low branches.
The DO35 hitch provided excellent movement on steep ground, and the positive locking system was reassuringly safe when hitching up each morning.
Twin 9kg gas bottles are mounted either side of a handy alloy toolbox on the extended A-frame, and both are protected by a full-width stone guard. Under the van I noticed metal guards safeguard the water tanks and all electrical and water leads positioned high out of the way of flying stones.
External storage is limited to a full-width tunnel boot up front, and a driver side generator box at the back but a pair of jerry can holders on the rear bar is a handy option. Along the side are a folding picnic table, points for 12 and 240v power and a roll out awning that you need to unlock before lifting the roof.
The interior design places the bed at the front and the ensuite across the back, so while the rear entry might not be the most efficient use of space, it gives privacy to the sleeping section and easy access to the bathroom from outside. I found lifting the roof was easy, while the zippered openings in the connecting canvas added to the open, airy feeling, although they didn’t provide much insulation against the cold snap we experienced at Bullocks Hill Campground in the Kosciuszko National Park. Luckily we brought our winter woollies, although a diesel heater could be an option if you intend touring the cold country in winter.
The main power switch is conveniently located immediately inside the entrance where it’s a high step inside to a neat interior dominated by white walls and light grey cabinetry. I like these muted colours, which should stay fashionable into the future, but colour options are vast so you can individualise a van to your own taste.
The rear ensuite meets the needs of couples that want these onboard facilities without taking too much space from the living quarters. A zippered high section around the shower solves the waterproofing issues brought by the poptop, and despite the compact size, the bathroom includes a wall mounted washing machine and Thetford toilet, along with a small vanity and usable storage in low cupboards.
A large190L three-way fridge and a Thetford Caprice stove with oven would be welcome items for long-range travel even if most of our cooking during our travels was done on an outside fire. It’s great to have a morning cuppa before venturing outside for the day and a baked dinner on a cold night would always be welcome when you have been on the road for a while.
USB and 12V outlets were handy to the L-shaped lounge for topping up phones and computers and we found there was ample power from the twin 100ah batteries that are charged by two 80w solar panels and from the tow vehicle when travelling.
Up front, a double bed completes the simple layout, and the large double-glazed windows either side complement others at the kitchen and lounge for lots of light and a new view every morning.
Over the years we have travelled extensively with many Goldstream RV vans and campers, and we have always been impressed with the excellent balance and the ease of towing. On the nearly 2000km of this review the Panther reinforced this response, with nothing coming loose or breaking despite hard going on rocky tracks and corrugations.
Compact poptops are all about their easy towing, manoeuvrability and storage. The Panther’s light ATM of 2600kg cuts the fuel usage and doesn’t require a monster tow vehicle. At the same time, smart design gives a comfortable interior that was easy to live with during our time away.
Price starts at $57,900 for a standard 1760 and goes to $68,900 with the Panther pack and lots of useful options. For a video review of the Panther go to our website.
- Modern styling and quality finish
- Ease of towing and manoeuvrability
- Strongly built with quality fittings
- Good resale from a reputable company
- Storage is limited
Find Out More
Manufacturer: Goldstream RV
Model: 1760 Panther RE RD
Overall length: 7.3m
External body length: 5.33m
Internal body length: 4.95m
Travel height: 2.34m
Internal height: 1.9m
Tare weight: 2193kg
Ball weight: 195kg
Water tanks: 2x 80L plus 60L grey water
Payload remaining with full fluids: 229kg
Price from: $57,900
Panther Package, extended A-frame, oven, mini wall-mounted washing machine, grey water tank, spotlights mounted front and rear, generator box, 2 x spare wheels, more.
Price as reviewed: $68,900
Contact: Goldstream RV
75 Bald Hills Rd, Pakenham Vic 3810
Ph 03 9541 5571