The Royal Flair Raptor would have to be one of the most innovative and bold caravans I have ever seen. It’s a specially built adventure caravan with the ability to carry several motorcycles or an ATV on its 1.5m wide drop-down rack at the rear of the body.
Royal Flair has been making caravans since 1975 from its Campbellfield factory and has perfected the art of thoughtful caravan design. There are four different sizes between 11’5” and 17’6” in the Raptor range, but you can order other sizes and layouts to your needs. This 14’ 9” version on test is a custom model showing the versatility of this inventive builder.
From the first sight, you can tell the Raptor is far removed from the traditional luxury vans Royal Flair produces typically. Company owner, Bill Deralas, is a keen off-roader and took a prototype version on a proving run to Cape York, behind his specially prepared 200 Series Landcruiser. Loaded to the gunwales with every conceivable toy, the Raptor attracted attention at every stop. As the photos show, the Raptor loaded with gear is an incredibly awesome rig.
Our review van is equally impressive even without the added toys. The short body gives a high riding impression, and the random black graphics over the bright white body make it hard to miss. Much thought has gone into spreading the load and with the rear tray in its raised position; the van looks front heavy with the tandem wheels set somewhat rearward. Unloaded the ball is a hefty 266kg, but that’s because the Raptor is designed to have weight down the back on the tray. Each van is built for a specific load, and the test van was designed for a rooftop boat, a scooter and some pushbikes at the back.
The Raptor’s ability to tackle wild country with a raft of adventure toys is built on a bulletproof base of a 150x 50 x5mm galvanised steel chassis and extended A-frame with 3” raisers for the Al-Ko Control Rider suspension. This suspension is a combination of trailing arms and twin shock absorbers rated to 3500kg, and allowing a payload of 612kg. Combined with tall 265×75 offroad tyres on distinctive red 16” alloy wheels, the Raptor has significant ground clearance for travel over rutted tracks.
Unlike the company’s road-going vans, which use CNC cut marine ply walls, the Raptor’s body is constructed from specially engineered Worthington sandwich panels. These 28mm thick sheets comprise a high-density foam core inside 2mm fibreglass panels. ABS inserts at the edges help bond the side and end walls to the sandwich panel roof and the compose floor to form a solid and efficiently insulated body. The structure is strong enough to support a steel roof rack attached with 120mm deep plates along the top edges of the sidewalls. The test van’s rack was engineered to hold the owner’s 120kg aluminium boat, which is lifted on a rear mount boat loader using an electric winch.
The tray at the rear of the van folds up when not in use and extends 1.5m when laid flat. Sturdy arms connecting to the chassis and running up to the boat loader frame support the tray, and it folds up out of the way against the rear of the van when not in use.
At the extended A-frame is a giant 1800L toolbox with an upper section for general storage and lower compartments with slide outs for a generator and a kettle-style BBQ. A DO-45 Cruisemaster 4.5 tonne offroad hitch connects to the tow vehicle and a bracket ahead of the toolbox houses a boat motor and the winch to lift the boat.
A slide-out kitchen with a matt black finish boasts a three-burner cooktop and a circular stainless steel sink while further back, over the checkerplate wheel arch, are two picnic tables with television connections and a set of Rockford Fosgate speakers.
The list of options outside includes extra LED lights, a TV dome and a Thule Ormister awning. At the back is a ladder to the roof, high mount spare wheel, two jerry can holders and a reversing camera with LED light bar. But my favourite addition is a drawer-style Dometic fridge near the picnic table, waiting to be filled with coldies.
Given the van is only 14’9” in the body length, I was expecting a cramped interior with compromises to meet sleeping arrangements and relaxing. So, when I stepped inside my initial reaction to the large U-shaped club lounge at the rear wasn’t too positive. I assumed the lounge would double as a bed, along with the hassles of having to make it up every night.
You can imagine my surprise when Bill leant over to the wall and flicked a switch that lowered a queen bed from its place over the lounge. Depending on how low it’s positioned, the lounge is still accessible as two singles, so the little Raptor can be configured as a family van or one for a few friends on a trip away.
The hidden bed opens the interior up to the equivalent of a much larger van. The ensuite in the front driver side corner is compact but usable, and kitchen bench space is limited, but the layout makes the most of what’s available.
The kitchen includes a combination cooktop and sink, and there’s a 152L Thetford slimline compressor fridge squeezed between handy storage and pantry cupboards. A floor to ceiling wardrobe adds more storage and spaces below the lounge have hinged lids for easy access.
Two roof-mounted 160w solar panels charge extremely efficient twin100ah lithium batteries for an impressive amount of usable power. A BMPro 35amp battery management system controls charging and gives readouts of what’s happening. Power points and USB chargers are well placed and numerous, and I noticed both a Lyons CP700 Pressuriser in the roof for dusty roads and a Truma Saphir air conditioner under the lounge.
As with most Raptors, the van on test was built to the owner’s requirements and was weight certified to his expected carrying capacity. It can be tricky getting weight distribution right, so owners need to be aware of loading equipment judiciously. That’s the case with all vans of course, but with such a sizeable rear tray, there might be a temptation to overload.
For individual needs above the standard 3500kg ATM of most tow vehicles, customers are encouraged to step up to a vehicle like a Dodge Ram or an upgraded Landcruiser.
For our test, the unladen Raptor fitted under the 3T limit of our long-term test Holden Trailblazer, but it wouldn’t be a prospect for owners as it goes over the Trailblazer’s capacity when loaded. At the van’s 2888kg Tare, the Trailblazer handled the weight with no problem, and we easily kept up with traffic, quickly accelerating away from traffic lights with ease. A hefty ball weight kept the Raptor planted to the road without sway or pitching, and the Al-Ko suspension took ruts and dips in its stride on our dirt test track.
Recommended retail on a 13’9” Raptor is $89,154, but the sky is the limit when you start adding accessories and custom features. Our test van topped out at $98,000 and included the extended chassis, giant toolbox, boat loader and much more. How do you compare that price to the competition when there’s nothing like it to compare? If you want a capable off-roader for serious exploration, the Raptor might be just the thing. It might not be the cheapest fourteen footer around, but dragging it into the bush to catch a giant barra up a lazy river would be hard to beat.
- Inventive use of internal space
- Great off grid ability
- Sturdy construction
- Limited payload as is
Find Out More
Manufacturer: Royal Flair
Model: Raptor 14’9” Custom
Overall length: 8.2m
Internal body length: 4.496m
Internal height: 1.85m
Tare weight: 2888kg
Ball weight: 266kg