Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 6, 2020 15:07:20 GMT 10
Following are some photos of a home-made caravan with an interesting history, which was listed on Gumtree in May 2018. According to the seller it was built to be used to travel to Melbourne in time for the Olympic Games in 1956.
The caravan was featured in the August 1957 edition of the American Trail-R-News magazine:
The van seems to have been beautifully made - and preserved. Note the rather nice veneer on the cupboards and drawers (it looks too good to be laminate?). It also has a couple of interesting features, including the double windows on the side and the ventilation arrangement on the roof.
Looking at this van reminds me just how big an impact the Melbourne Olympic Games had on Australian society, including caravan design. There are examples like this van built to travel to the Games themselves, but then carrying that history within their DNA for all these years. But we can also think of Olympic caravans which use the Olympic torch as part of their logo, and even embossed in the fibreglass of some of their models. Presumably the brand name was chosen as a result of the Melbourne Games? There was also a special 'Olympiad' Globetrotter model which I have photos of, and will post. There are probably other examples we can think of?
The van above is my caravan. We picked it up a couple of years ago. Yes, it is beautifully made, the owner a Mr Ken Maguire and his wife Avona travelled to the 1956 Olympic Games from Adelaide, this account is in the article he wrote for the US trailer magazine which we have the original copy. The van was fully equipped with cutlery (engraved “M”), original blankets, plates, linen and lots more, a real museum piece. It has a beautiful Electrolux fridge and an original porta potty called a Webster’s Super 8. The laminex on the table and splashback is the Australiana Corroboree print. The article also says the van was made for the Maguires by a local builder. It’s a great little van. Cheers sunny62
Hi Don, That’s right the screened openings at either end open up for ventilation. There are two windows on each side near the beds that open. Interestingly the screens for these windows slide up into the wall cavity so you can get to the window latches. It is very well built and originally had FJ wheels to match the FJ tow car, we have since put in a new electric brakes and axel with HQ Holden patterned wheels. The key for the van door is an FJ Holden door key, obviously matched the car. I have emailed you a scanned copy of the article.
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 7, 2020 15:12:08 GMT 10
Sunny62 has kindly provided us with some additional photos of their caravan which was built for Ken and Avona Maguire in time for traveling to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
The beds at the rear with refrigerator:
Australian Corroboree laminex table top:
And the Webster's Super 8 portapotty:
Sunny62 has also provided a copy of the article written by Ken Maguire and published in Trail-R-News Magazine describing the first trip with the caravan from Adelaide to Melbourne for the Games. It is a fascinating article which recalls the times very vividly and is well worth the time to read:
(Source: Trail-R-News Magazine, August 1957, pages 69-75)
It is so interesting the way Mr Maguire - or the magazine editor - translated various words and bits of information so that American readers would be able to comprehemd it. So instead of 'caravanner' we have 'trailerist'! Also some of the phrasing evocatively reflects the language and thinking of the time. For example, rather than just taking photos, the author took 'Kodachromes'.
It is also interesting to read that the van was built not by Ken Maguire himself, but by a man called Horrie. Whoever Horrie was, he did a mighty fine job on the caravan. But it's intriguing that the Maguires chose to have the caravan built for them, rather than simply buying one of the ready built caravans being manufactured by the host of commercial caravan manufacturers operating in Adelaide at the time. Maybe they had some ideas for a caravan that they wanted to have built in to their own caravan that weren't available in the ready built vans?
In the article Ken Maguire mentions a visit to a caravan park in the Melbourne suburb of Springvale by a 'trailer manufacturing company'. I am almost certain that the caravan park he was referring to was the Greenacres Caravan Park which was established in 1953 by Don Robinson, the proprietor of the Don Caravan Company. So an interesting link there.
I was only a small child at the time of the Melbourne Olympics, but my memories from that event are some of my most vivid, and the article brings them all back. My parents bought a TV so that we could watch some of the games coverage, and we left the front door of the house open so that friends and relatives could come and go as they wanted to watch some of the events taking place - and we lived on a small farm, so people weren't just coming from another house in a suburban street.
Because Sunny62's caravan has such an fascinating history which we now know quite a lot about, and it has some interesting design features, I've moved the posts about it from the 'Home-made Caravans' thread in the DHL section to this new thread all of its own in the 'Members Photo Album' section. I think it deserves it.
Sincere thanks to Sunny62 for being willing to share the above information with us. Hopefully we will get a chance to see the actual caravan itself one of these days - post-pandemic!