The big news about the 31-foot Hawkins coach is that it is priced well under $100,000, yet it offers as standard equipment most all of the luxury items that are traditionally found on higher-priced coaches. RVers who are in the market for a deluxe coach that is outfitted to the hilt with practically every convenience feature dreamed up by RV manufacturers and suppliers since the early '60s should check out the Hawkins.
When we called Jerry Hawkins, owner of Hawkins Coach Inc., to request the loan of this new model to prepare a story for Family Motor Coaching, Hawkins said that his Ontario, California, based company builds each coach to order and doesn't keep a "promotion" coach on hand; therefore, our only option was to borrow one from a dealer. We always hesitate to do this, because the coach that we borrow won't be available to potential buyers while we're using it. Dealers} as a rule, don't like being put in this position. However} when we visited the dealer that stocked our test coach - Traveland's Sunset Motors in Irvine, California - we were treated courteously and were provided with a coach that was probably better "prepped" than any we've taken out.
After picking up the coach, we headed up Interstate 405 with plans to visit the Sierra Nevada Mountains} a favorite haunt of summertime RVers. During our initial run north to Bakersfield over the "Grapevine" pass, the Chevrolet engine performed quite admirably. Although the blower noise generated by the centre\fugal fan that automatically kicks in when¬ever the coach travels up or down a grade rendered conversation some¬what difficult during these periods, the heat peg remained on "normal," and that's important, Otherwise, over the-road travel was really quiet, thanks in part to the carpeted storage shelves throughout the coach and to the Ozite ceiling material.
When we stopped to top the gas tank, we discovered the convenience of having two doors in the cockpit. Both the driver and passenger doors were equipped with electric power windows. We also found it easy to readjust the remote-control side-view mirrors and to change the position of the six-way electrically adjustable driver's seat when we changed drivers.
The Hawkins coach rides and handles beautifully. The rear of the coach is equipped with Ride-Rite air bags, while the front is outfitted with Chevy chassis air bags at the bottom of the springs. As I piloted the Hawkins} I noted no coach body roll or steering problems. The driver always feels in control.
The driver of the Hawkins can issue warnings to other drivers with the deep "honk" of the truck-type Hadley air horns; the horns operate via an air compressor that also can be utilized if needed to add air to the air bags or to a tire. The long, narrow, spaghetti-type rubber-covered tubing provided with the coach enables this operation. The hose will stretch from the compressor in the engine compartment to the air-pressure valves for both sets of air bags as well as for the tires. The rear air bag valves are readily accessible beneath the fender wells.
Our test coach also included as standard equipment a hitch receiver for towing, Michelin radial tires, a chrome roof rack and ladder, a spare tire and wheel, stainless-steel wheel simulators, and a mini-state TV antenna with interior remote control all items that usually are offered as options. In fact, the full-length awning on the curb side and the hydraulic levelers were the only optional equipment on this test coach.
On the driver's side of the coach exterior is what looks like a covered patio electrical outlet. It's really a place to plug in the connection for a telephone and cable TV - a very neat and convenient arrangement.
Inside the coach, the fully instrumented padded dash boasts large, easy-to-read dials that light up in a stunning fashion for night driving. Our one criticism was that very few, if any, of the dials and switches throughout the coach were labeled. It took us two nights to discover that there is a second switch on the rear bedroom nightstand - in addition to the one on the dash - to turn on and off the floor courtesy lights. If it had been a bear it would have bitten us!
In our opinion, two of the hottest driver convenience items in the coach were the dash-mounted rear¬view TV monitor and the docking lights. The TV monitor enables the driver to see the rear bumper on the coach, which not only adds a measure of safety but can come in handy when you back up to connect to a trailer for hauling a compact car or towing a boat. As an added safety feature, whenever the transmission is set in reverse, a horn sounds an intermittent warning.
By using the TV monitor in combination with the excellent side-view mirrors, the driver can switch from lane to lane in heavy traffic without worrying about blind spots or about being sideswiped by someone coming up fast to pass. This safety feature adds to the driver's peace of mind.
The docking lights are another great feature of this coach, and they are particularly useful at night. These bright lights are recessed into the body of the coach just behind the front wheels, which is an ideal place for them. We were able to park our 31-foot test coach between a picnic table and a tree in a totally dark campground site using these lights. We could see where the body of the coach was in relation to other objects at all times.
In our opinion, this particular TV monitor and the docking lights are the two best innovations the RV industry has come up with in years. These items are tremendously beneficial to owners of longer coaches, and Jerry Hawkins is to be congratulated for installing them on his motorhomes.
Yes, the Hawkins coach is well equipped with all of the features necessary for safe and comfortable travel. The coach even has a fire¬proof floor safe, which You’d never know was there unless someone pointed out its location. Yet, this well-hidden safe is easily accessible. Loaded as the coach was, it still pro¬vided gas mileage of approximately seven mpg during our trip over mostly mountainous terrain.
Other standard features in the driver's compartment include a custom steering wheel, cruise control, an overhead color TV, and controls for the fog/spotlights. If we had run out of gas or had experienced mechanical difficulties, the CB radio in the the fog/spotlights. If we had run out of gas or had experienced mechanical difficulties, the CB radio in the driver's compartment would have saved the day. Many RVers also use their CBs when traveling with another RV couple or in an RV caravan. A CB can be a time-saver as well, as it enables you to contact truck drivers on the road to ask for directions or other information.
The 31-foot Hawkins boasts plenty of panoramic windows, among them the curved front windshield complete with privacy drape. The other windows in the coach are covered with mini-blinds, the ends of which fasten into slots at the bottom of the blinds to prevent rattles. The slots are constructed of spring steel, so you needn't worry about bending them or breaking them.
The mini-blinds are topped by sheers and velvet drapes with tie-backs. All drapery hardware is concealed by the oak valance that stretches across the top of each window. The sheers and drapes were a bit too long for our tastes.
You'll find a number of items conveniently located in or near the entry way of the Hawkins. The monitor control panel is one such item. By pressing the pressure-sensitive pads on the panel you can ascertain levels in the holding tanks. These readings can be calibrated to insure accuracy. For example, if you fill the water tank and the gauge doesn't register at the "full" mark, you can remedy this via a screw adjustment. The panel also includes an LP-gas gauge and on/off switches for the water pump and the generator.
If you park the motor home in front of your house prior to loading it for takeoff the next day but don't want to leave the step out for fear that someone might bump into it, hurt himself, and sue, you can open the door and manually push the little button on the lower part of the door¬jamb to swing the step up out of sight. You can also activate the "off" switch for the 12-volt battery system at the same time, if you wish, because this switch is located just inside the door behind the swivel recliner chair.
The batteries are located in a battery box under the floor at the entry door, a position that facilitates access.
A convenient handrail is mounted on the wall as you enter the coach, and at the top of the steps is a wall mirror that allows occupants to check their appearance before leaving the coach. Above the mirror hangs an attractive weather station and a good-looking "decorator" wall clock. All in all, I'd say the manufacturer has used excellent judgment in positioning all of these items so that they can be utilized as the owners leave or enter the coach.
In the living room, at the end of the comfy, convertible Flexsteel sofa is a wall-mounted telephone and a home type reading lamp. We enjoyed both of these items. Parked at home and equipped with the telephone, this coach would make a great temporary guest home. A pull-up table between the two living room chairs accommodates two diners. A large extender leaf for this table is stored on the carpeted floor of the wardrobe closet.
The kitchen features the new trend in aluminum sinks; one large sink with a cutting board cover, and one narrow sink to be used for cleaning vegetables and fruit and for like chores. We would have preferred two full-size sinks for cleanup purposes, but on the other hand, this type of sink consumes less counter¬top space, thus providing more work space.
Coach owners should be delighted with the Sharp combination micro¬wave/convection oven with carousel. Food preparation time is shortened considerably with microwave cooking, and neither the microwave nor the convection methods of cooking will heat up the coach as would cooking in a conventional oven. Eliminating the conventional oven also frees up space below the countertop and allows the addition of kitchen drawers or cupboard space. The range hood is equipped with a 110-volt light and a two-speed fan to remove heat while the range burners are in use. We never found it necessary to use the light, as the many recessed light panels in the coach ceiling provided ample light. A fold-back aluminum cook -top cover provides added work space when the burners are not in use. The wall-mounted spice rack behind the stove is long enough to please even a gourmet chef; it holds 10 spice jars.
Storage Space is abundant in the kitchen and throughout the coach. All of the cupboards feature solid oak cabinet faces and pressure-touch latches. The parquet floor covering and ceramic countertop and splash¬board in the kitchen are not only classy-looking, but they facilitate upkeep as well.
Although we didn't use the built-in coffee maker, those who enjoy drip coffee will find it a great boon. Another galley amenity is the built¬in blender on the countertop behind the sink. The water purifier system with a separate tap from which water can be drawn for drinking or for making beverages is a good idea. A good purifying system can eliminate stomach upset caused by drinking water obtained in various locales or from a water tank that isn't regularly sanitized. The Hawkins owners manual explains how to sanitize the holding tanks, as well as how to winterize them for cold-weather use.
The large two-door refrigerator has an attractive black door that matches the door on the microwave/ convection oven and on the ice maker below the adjacent pantry. The pantry features slide-out, tray-type drawers that would hold an enormous amount of staple food items. The coach also features a vacuum system, which would allow the coach owner to vacuum after each trip to help keep the coach looking like new for a long time.
The curbside bathroom, although compact, is light and airy thanks to the glazed (for privacy) slider window, the ceiling vent fan, and the skylight over the tub/shower. The skylight floods the entire bathroom with light but keeps the heat from the sun where you want it, in the shower area.
Above the spacious lavatory coun¬tertop are two corner mirrored medicine cabinets that allow three¬way viewing. The Thetford marine toilet includes a spray cleaning attachment that is useful for keeping the bowl shiny bright or for filling the bowl several times in order to flush out the holding tank during the dumping operation. The one thing that we would like to see added to the bath area is a water pump switch.
The coach is equipped with a smoke alarm. It really works, too. We were awakened several times during the night because, being in the moun¬tains, we had set the furnace thermo¬stat to activate the furnace whenever the temperature dropped below 60. Apparently the odor from the new paint on the furnace burning off set off the alarm each time.
Mirrored doors grace the full length, cedar-lined wardrobe closet. The metal clothes pole is notched to keep clothing from packing together and to prevent hangers from falling to the floor while the coach is in motion.
The rear twin beds, which feature matching boxed spreads, slept very comfortably. A wall-mounted home type reading lamp hangs over each bed. While sitting in bed, coach occupants can either watch the corner-mounted color TV or listen to tapes played in the cassette deck that's situated in the nightstand.
Hawkins manufactures 11 coach models in 30-foot to 40-foot lengths on John Deere, Chevrolet, Gillig, and Oshkosh chassis with the option of a gas engine or a rear diesel engine. A fully equipped 1988 35-foot model with a diesel engine will run you around $124,000 .••
Hi, I'm Jerry Hawkins, President of Hawkins Motor Coach Inc., asking you to experience the HMC before you buy your next motorhome.
In the fifteen years that I ran Brougham Industries Inc. we developed and produced thou¬sands upon thousands of motorhomes and bus
During those years I learned the true value of quality component materials along with maximum storage space.
Today's experienced buyer knows what he is looking for standard features.
Virtually all of the options on other coaches are standard on the HMC.
The HMC is quickly becoming recognized for having one of the longest lists of standard features in the industry.
Floor plans range from 30' to 40' with gas front engines on John Deere, Gillig and GM chassis, or diesel rear engines on Gillig chassis.
We also convert the elegant Prevost bus to an R.V., using our own factory designed floor plan or your own customized version.
Our custom commercial interiors have satisfied many customers, including UCLA, Cura Care and St. Jude Hospital.
Why pay more ... when you can experience all of the options ... standard.