Sailing Along

The old adage that “you can’t judge a book by its cover” applies to retro rig owners too

When we go along to vintage caravan events, we can usually tell who is there simply by looking at the rigs. That’s because many owners keep their much loved classic car and vintage caravan for a long time. Maybe they inherited the rig from their parents, or spent so much time restoring it that they are happy to just go camping with it from now on. However, there are exceptions.

When we went along to a vintage caravan camping weekend at Gingin, north of Perth, we recognised most of the rigs. But when this 1959 Ford Fairlane towing a late 1950s Clipper caravan cruised into the caravan park, we were mystified. We didn’t recognise the car or caravan.

So it was quite a surprise when the owners, Ron and Elaine Van Halen, stepped out. We have known them for over ten years and met them on many occasions, since they are very enthusiastic vintage vanners who attend many events. During that time they have owned a variety of different caravans and tow-cars, so this wasn’t the first time that they had surprised us.

Ron explained that, “The car is a 1959 Fairlane with a 332 cubic inch V8 engine. It was originally owned by the Ford dealer in the town of Northam, about 100km east of Perth. I remember in 1970s when I used to drive to Merredin through Northam, and often saw that very car in the dealer’s showroom. When I saw it in an auction in Perth, I just had to buy it”.

He obtained the 15 foot 10 inch Clipper caravan from another vintage caravan enthusiast. It was manufactured at 534 South Road, Edwardstown in Adelaide, near where Roadmaster and Furness caravans were built. The caravan was later modified by the addition of aluminium cladding on roof and rear, but he plans to remove and reinstall a calico roof, with painted calico over plywood.

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