To celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, Paul and Gloria decided to lash out on a classic caravan. Viki, as they affectionately named her, was looking a little worse for wear when they found her… but it didn’t take long to bring her back to life.
Here’s their story:
We were looking around for a Viscount because they were a distinctive and popular caravan “in their day”. Gloria lived at Liverpool and the factory was “just down the road” at Lansvale. A lot of people were employed there including her brother who worked for a nearby supplier.
We bought a 1972 Viscount Ambassador and we lived in it for 3 years after we married in 1973. It was a modern caravan with acrylic finish and the cupboards were finished in a light timber laminate. It cost about a years wages. It was an easy van to tow and lightweight with aluminium frame. And it never leaked!
Over the years we have owned a number of caravans as our budget and our needs changed with a growing family. None were as trouble free as our first Viscount.
For our fortieth anniversary we thought it would be nice to get a Viscount similar age to our classic 1966 Ford Galaxie. We kept a watch out on the various internet sales sites. Most of the vans that caught our eye were located somewhere interstate and we were a bit daunted by the removal and registration process. We were very fortunate that “Viki” was for sale locally at Tanunda, so I checked it out and for our 40th anniversary I took Gloria for a surprise inspection and she said “yes”, we would take the plunge.
Our main concern with the purchase was avoidance of water leak damage. One of our previous caravans had leaked and it had turned into an extensive and expensive repair way beyond the value of the caravan itself. With Viki the only visible water damage was around the windows and this was typical for this model. A bonus was that the van had been used regularly by a family for local holidays and mechanically it was ready to tow.
I drew up a “to do” list and shared it with some mates and over the next 6 months it became a “men’s shed” project. The corner perspex windows where badly faded and removed. This enabled the corner sections to be waterproofed. We had very good suppliers in Adelaide who were able to cut and shape these corner windows in modern acrylic (the nearest equivalent of the original Perspex).
The framing was all aluminium and at times it felt we were working on an old aircraft restoration! The hatch section showed signs of leaking and water damage so was removed, relined and recaulked before being replaced. Several windows had cracked glass which were replaced as were various window latches.
Some damage to the cupboards was repaired as much as possible retaining the original laminate finishes. The cushions were all replaced and represented the biggest expense item but also the most essential for overall presentation and comfortable seating as well as good nights rest.
The exterior did not need much work – I changed the original faded blue of the “dynamic twin flash” to match the car and in the process also attended to the accompanying pin stripping. I located good condition hubcaps and moon rims to dress up the wheels which had already been fitted recently with new 8 ply light truck tyres.
Cleaning up the chassis and repainting same and replacing the jacks was the sort of job we were glad to have out the way – not much fun at all! The external cladding was polished with car polish. Interestingly, this was one of the first Viscounts fitted with white acrylic finish aluminium sheets and then only to the sides. Apparently at the time they did not have an equivalent material for the ends and roof which are plain flat sheet painted white. All the external light fittings were replaced with as near original replacements
There was an annual event at Normanville SA called the Vintage and Classic Caravan Stampede, so November 2013 was our target for completion which we made with at least 2 days to spare! It was a good feeling to be able to add to the amazing tapestry of the many vintage/classic vans, which are being restored and used for their intended purpose – travelling on the roads!
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