Celebrating 60 years of innovation and trusted performance

Take a look through the fascinating journey of our history, highlighting the many significant steps it has taken over the past 60 years to become the innovative, forward-thinking market leader we are today.

Building the foundation in the 1960s

  • 1964
    Ken Smith partners with Ken Day to create the first touring caravan, ‘The Ten,’ in Hull, and sold it for £289.

  • 1965
    Ken Smith buys out his partner and launches ‘Clubman’ and ‘Valken’ models.

  • 1966
    Swift operates in Hedon Road, Hull, with eight employees. They introduce the ‘ette’ range with ‘Alouette’ and ‘Silhouette’ models.

  • 1967
    The ‘ette’ range expands to five models, and Swift begins exporting to West Germany and Denmark.

  • 1968
    Swift debuts at the Earls Court Caravan Show, showcasing a signature deep front window style that becomes synonymous with Swift models for the next decade. The ‘Rapide’ range is introduced for lightweight value.

  • 1969
    Swift grows to 50 employees, producing around 400 units a year, and relocates to a 10,000 sq ft factory.

Expanding and innovating in the 1970s

  • 1970
    Swift pioneers two-tone exteriors in pale green and white, adds more models, and appoints over 30 UK dealers. The company moves to a new 15,000 sq ft factory in Dunswell Road, Cottingham.

  • 1971
    Swift Owners Club forms with over 40 members, holding the first Owners Rally at Alton Towers.

  • 1972
    Founder Ken Smith passes away, leaving his wife Joan and son Peter to continue the Swift success story.

  • 1973
    Swift enters the British Caravan Road Rally, showcasing quality, performance and road handling of Swift products.

  • 1976
    Swift introduces the luxury ‘Corniche’ range.

  • 1977-1979
    Swift’s focus on the middle to upper market segments proves recession beating. Production reaches around 1,500 units annually, employing 140 staff.

Technological advancements, innovations, growth and acquisitions in the 1980s

  • 1980-1983
    Swift pioneers scientific design methods, including wind tunnel testing and computer modelling - which lead to the Cottingham range, featuring the first caravan with a built-in aerofoil roof. Increased demand also allows the factory to expand to 80,000 sq ft.

  • 1985
    In-house GRP (glass reinforced plastic) begins, making Swift the only manufacturer to have this facility. Kon-Tiki, Swift’s first motorhome prototype launches gaining success in the UK, Sweden and Denmark.

  • 1984-1985
    Swift acquires Burstwick Transport, gaining control over manufacturing and distribution. The Challenger range launches and replaces the Cottingham range.

  • 1986-1988
    Corniche range becomes the first touring caravan to have full onepiece GRP mouldings for the front locker, roof and rear panel. The twin-axle Challenger range sets new industry standards with blown air heating and optional air conditioning. Swift Owners Club membership surpasses 1,000, and production reaches 2,500 units.

  • 1989
    Swift acquires Cotswold Coachcraft, adding a luxury coachbuilt touring brand. Swift becomes the second-largest tourer manufacturer with over 5,000 units, 500+ staff and a 212,000 sq ft factory.

Investment and advancements in the 1990s

  • 1990
    Swift acquires additional Cottingham site, setting the stage for substantial investments in manufacturing facilities, including the most modern manufacturing facilities in Europe, specialised spare parts buildings, an on-site training centre, and advanced CAD CAM design systems.

  • 1991
    The luxurious Cotswold Celeste range launches alongside the returning budget-friendly yet Swiftquality, Rapide. Motorhomes expand with the Kon- Tiki range and the entry-level Capri. New product testing begins including high speed test track sessions to monitor stability, brakes, tyres and suspension, putting every component to the ultimate test before manufacture.

  • 1992
    More speed and durability records are achieved with the Swift Rapide and Swift Corniche. Abbey Caravans is purchased and production is moved to Cottingham.

  • 1993-1994
    Swift expands exports with the Euroland range in Holland. The motorhome range grows with Swift’s first van conversion, the Carrera.

  • 1995
    Swift becomes the UK’s top motorhome manufacturer following the launch of the Sundance coachbuilt range. ‘Dealer special edition vans’ are introduced – another industry first.

  • 1996-1998
    Swift acquires Bessacarr and invests £3 million in new machinery and design systems. The company gains the Investor in People Award. swiftgroup.co.uk launches.

  • 1999
    Swift launches the Bel Air A-Class, the Challenger 500SE – the UK’s first fixed bed touring caravan, and becomes the largest UK manufacturer.

Acquisitions, expansion, modernisation and streamlining in the 2000s

  • 2000-2003
    The Charisma range replaces the Classic. Swift acquires ABI touring caravans, adding brands including Ace, Award, Monza, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

  • 2004
    Swift becomes the only manufacturer to operate in all three market sectors with the launch of the Debut and Vendee holiday home models. A new factory for holiday homes opens in Hull.

  • 2005-2006
    A new £8 million factory is built in Cottingham. With recession looming, the importance of value for money leads to the re-launch of the Sprite brand. One-piece aluminium sides are introduced.

  • 2007
    Swift acquires Autocruise Motorhomes, and later becomes the leader in van conversion motorhomes.

  • 2008-2009
    Despite recession, Swift streamlines touring brands to focus on Swift, Sterling Caravans, and Sprite, along with motorhomes Swift, Bessacarr, and Autocruise. The Escape motorhome range is launched.

Innovations, enhancements, and strategic partnerships in the 2010s

  • 2010-2011
    All Swift tourers gain Grade 3 Classification for insulation. Swift Talk, an owner-oriented social networking site, is launched. Holiday home offerings expand with more models including lodges.

  • 2011
    Swift introduces innovative body shell designs with GRP mouldings, an aerodynamic shape and integrated sunroof windows.

  • 2012
    Swift TV, a web-based TV channel, is launched. Swift Group becomes the first UK manufacturer with full European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval for every model. SMART construction system is introduced.

  • 2014
    Connect Direct launches and provides online customer service. Swift celebrates 10 years of holiday home production and 20 years as the largest UK leisure vehicle manufacturer.

  • 2016
    Basecamp, a compact and sporty camping vehicle, is launched. Swift Command and Swift Command Tracker is launched, providing enhanced vehicle management and security.

  • 2018
    Strategic partnerships with Black Horse and Caravan Guard are formed. Swift moves holiday home production to a state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility at its main site in Cottingham. Swift opens Swift Go, a motorhome hire business.

  • 2019
    Kon-Tiki Dynamic, a motorsport-inspired edition, is introduced.

Adapting and innovating in challenging times in the 2020s

  • 2020
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift temporarily closed its manufacturing site for five months. A ‘staycation’ campaign is launched in response to the uncertainty of holidays abroad. Demand increases with new customers joining the market. In the absence of physical shows, Swift launched the industry’s first virtual show, Swift Live.

  • 2021
    Swift introduced the Monza, its first pop-top campervan.

  • 2023
    Swift ventured into television advertising with its debut TV campaign, Every Swift has a Story. Swift introduced its core values program, EPIC (Energy, Professionalism, Innovation, Community), and established a working group to implement the program across the company. Investments in the production site continue with further multi-million pound investments, including a new state-of-the-art holiday home production line and the construction of a new employee café, Hub Sixty-Four. Swift Living Magazine was launched, aiming to provide travel related inspiration. Swift’s first 4-bed Lodge is launched, adding to the Edmonton range.