Caravans International (CI) the caravan manufacturer
In just over a decade, Sam had turned a caravan with a basic design and new brand name into a full range of affordable layouts, which were practical and well designed, and could be towed by the new generation of cars. The Sprite name was now well known not only in the UK, but as far away as Africa, where it is still in evidence today. Producing several thousand tourers a year, another factory extension, carried out in 1963, helped boost production figures to 10,000 units, nearly half of which were exports. Since the mid-’50s, the caravan press had accepted the Sprite as a tourer for the man in the street. Good design and value for money now won much praise, as Sprite constantly came out top in tests in the specialist press.
Bluebird becomes part of Sprite Ltd and Eccles
Sam continually strove to increase sales of both Sprite products, and the relatively newly-acquired Eccles brand. Eccles was proving a success for Sprite, and some of its tried and tested components – such as chassis – were used in Sprites. Sam, though, had another UK manufacturer on his tail – Bluebird – which also had at its helm Bill Knott, another caravan industry stalwart. Knott had seen his company grow from small beginnings, just as Sam had done, and Bluebird also had a reputation, in the early days, of producing basic caravans of dubious build quality.
Knott, just like Sam, had improved his products, and their durability was also keenly watched. Knott supplied the market with living vans/holiday homes, and had also seen the future in motor homes, when, in 1958, he launched his coachbuilt, mass-produced motor home, called the Highwayman.
Bill Knott’s father had established the company back in the mid-’30s, and, after the war, Bill Knott had taken it over, with the vision of Bluebird becoming the largest maker of caravans in Europe. He, too, had built a good relationship with dealers at home and abroad, and, by the late ’50s, had established a company in West Germany. Sprite and Bluebird were chasing the same markets, and this led to talks between the two about how they could join forces and further expand their markets.
After several meetings, and with rumours rife, on July 23, 1963, an agreement was reached, and the Poole-based Bluebird became part of Sprite Ltd and Eccles. During that year, Sprite/Eccles produced 10,000 units, 4700 of these being exports, proof that Sprite was the largest exporter of caravans globally. Both were to operate as different manufacturers under one umbrella, so a new name was needed to give the new organisation global recognition. ‘Caravans International’ was chosen as the new name for the group, which now ranked as the biggest caravan manufacturer in the UK and Europe. Sam became a shareholder of 45 per cent of the company, as well as joint Chairman and MD. He maintained his chairmanship and MD position with Sprite and Eccles, and was now MD of Bluebird Caravans, too...
Extracts of the new paperback "the Story of Sprite Caravans" have been reproduced with the kind permission of the caravan author Andrew Jenkinson and the publisher Veloce.
To read more about how Sprite brought innovation to the caravan industry and achieved massive caravan sales, visit www.veloce.co.uk/sprite.
Did you know that Shield Total Insurance offer competitively priced, comprehensive caravan insurance from just £48. Why not get a caravan insurance quote today.