Swift built its first touring caravan in 1964 at the firm’s original Heddon Road premises in Hull. Legend has it that the proprietors decided to try building motorhomes after seeing how popular the Auto-Sleeper stand was at an Earl’s Court Show.

Swift didn’t just graft one of their touring caravans onto the back of any old chassis-cab, but started with the proverbial clean sheet of paper, designing a contemporary body and mounting it on the (then cutting-edge) independently sprung Al-Ko chassis extensions behind the ground-breaking front-wheel-drive Talbot Express cab.

The road-hugging result just begged to be taken on long-haul adventures, which is why it was named after the raft on which explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific in 1947.

A 1992 Swift Kon-Tiki
The 1992 640 2.5TD

Kon-Tiki became an instant design icon and remains so today, after 37 years of continuous production. Original offer consisted of the two-berth and four-berth 600 variants and the longer six berth motorhomes, the 640 and 650 models.

The kitchen of a 1984 600/4 2.0P prototype 
A 1984 600/4 2.0P prototype

Standard motive power was a (Peugeot-derived) 2.0-litre petrol motor, or at extra cost, a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated or turbocharged diesel engine. The level of the residential standard spec was (and has been since) sky-high, assuring its place as the manufacturer’s flagship model.

Swift Kon-Tiki on Talbot Express Al-Ko chassis-cab (1985-1994). Subsequently transferred to Peugeot Boxer, then Fiat Ducato, Al-Ko.

Launch models: 600, 6.21m/20’4.5”; 640/650, 6.94m/22’ 9.25”.

Interested in a more up-to-date Kon-Tiki? Then be sure to check out our review of the Swift Kon-Tiki 764. You can also take a look at our Swift motorhome guide, where we take a look at the brand and reveal our pick of their models currently on the market.

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