Manufactured by Bob Hill and John Carr Originally at 395 Glen Osmond Road, Fullarton, and later at Virginia, South Australia Factories also at 128 Hume Highway, Cabramatta NSW and Dandenong Road, Dandenong Victoria VISCOUNT HISTORY:
Posted by groovy, Jun 5, 2006: Viscount was started by John Carr, originally in Adelaide in I believe 1956, then moved to Lansvale in Sydney around 1958. The Sydney van differed from the Adelaide van only in having a wider front opening window, while keeping the wraparound front corner windows. They were timber framed and I think the first vans to use the embossed ally, and all the cupboard doors and drawers were painted different colours.
In the Sydney Morning Herald archives, there is a classified advertisement in the edition Saturday 28 December, 1957, which says: "Caravans, new, 4 berths, from ₤525. VISCOUNT CARAVANS, 128 Hume Highway, CABRAMATTA."
Additional comment: According to Trevor Gill in his book about the South Australian caravanning industry, Still Swinging the Billy (page 67):
"The Viscount caravan was introduced by Bob Hill and John Carr around 1956. Several years later, John recognised the bigger potential of the market in the eastern States and decided to move to Sydney, initially setting up his enterprise in a horse stable. Bob was reluctant to leave Adelaide and made arrangements with John to continue building the Viscount brand at Glen Osmond and later near Virginia.
"The move to Sydney paid huge dividends for John with the Viscount business expanding in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, ultimately becoming the largest manufacturer in the industry."
1955* Viscount caravan: * See editorial comment below
Information posted by Jim, Jun 9, 2006: This is a 1955 Viscount with aluminium cladding. It was built in Adelaide before they shifted to Sydney a few years later. It was on display as a 50th Anniversary model last year. The front window is smaller than later production, but with the distinctive wrap arounds. All the signs and logos are hand painted and the aluminium is a stipple embossed pattern. (Note the stipple aluminium cladding (complete with perished rubbers) and raw aluminium window surrounds.) The interior in this van is original, complete with ice chest. It’s a very pleasant interior and in excellent condition. The chassis number could be a clue to when production first started. I can't remember if it’s 133 or 433, but the number could be a clue to when production started, probably 54 or earlier. The hydraulic overrun brakes and load distribution system are original on the van. Editorial comment: When Jim first posted this information in 2006, he indicated that the van shown was a 1955 model. With more information now available, it seems unlikely that this is the case for several reasons: (1) Aluminium side cladding was used by only one manufacturer at that point (Jennison). (2) Wrap around windows were only introduced in the very late 50's/early 60's. (3) The front styling with the windows inset in upper and lower bulkheads is typical of the late 50's/early 60's. At this point (2014) we have not seen an advertisement for this particular model, however a 1959 Viscount advertisement reproduced by Cobber below refers to a model with full aluminium cladding and wrap around windows, so it is possible that the van Jim saw was from around 1959. Although Jim saw the van at a 50th anniversary display for Viscount, perhaps it was shown as an example of an early Viscount without meaning to indicate that it was built in 1955?
(source: posted by Mark T, Jun 4, 2006, who wrote: can somebody tell me when Viscount first produced this design of Ali caravan? People with the 1958 or 1959 edition of "Australian Caravan & Touring manual" may be able to tell me. These are from the 1960 edition.
...in the 1957 copy of Australian Caravan & Touring Manual, there is no mention of Viscount vans, but in the 1960 copy of the same manual the Viscount is advertised. I was hoping somebody with the 58 & 59 editions of the same mag could tell me.) Editorial note: The blurry image above is reproduced in a clearer form here.
(source: posted by scoffer, Feb 2, 2007, who wrote: My guess is it's a late 60's or early 70's viscount van. About 18 foot and been sitting in my neighbours drive for about 30 yr's+. External skin is very good, but the wooden frame has perished. Alum skin, teardrop brake lights (like something you'd see on an 50's american car), venetian blinds over windows, an old gas/electric fridge. I've been unable to place its age, and the old guy next door only knows that his brother brought it when he was young. (My neighbour is in his late 80's). Tried to track down the spec's on it with the view to rebuilding it, but had no luck.)
reply by groovy: If it is a Viscount and has a timber frame, it will be no later than early-mid sixties as they changed to alloy frames around the mid sixties maybe 67 or 68 at the latest.
reply by gristy [who went and looked at the van]: My take on the van is that it is an early 60s Viscount and a 'premium' model at that. It appears to have had two tone aluminium, high quality fittings and appliances and dual gas cylinders. Three quarters of the interior is like new. Editorial comment: Subsequent research has indicated that Gristy was correct in his conclusion. The van in this post is a 1963 Viscount.
(source: posted by kingy, Oct 4, 2006, who wrote: ...Found this old viscount by accident on the weekend, it's parked under a holiday house here on the coast and appears to be in good original condition. The only external damage is on the front L/H panel ( 2 small dents). Had a peek through the front window which was not locked and saw an old roundy fridge by the brand of what looked like SILO. the stove area was shut up. Van looks to be around 11' and i feel has a lot of potential.)
reply by groovy, Oct 4, 2006: Hey Kingy that is a find and a half if you can get it, it is one of the original Adelaide built vans the same as the one Mark bought. The telltales are the name Viscount painted on the side over the window and the narrow opening front window, the Sydney built vans had a much wider opening window. I would say it is the 12' 6" model, they didn't produce an 11' version at that time to my knowledge, only the 12' 6" and a 15' with single longitudinal beds in the back. We had a 59 model 12' 6", albeit a Syney built version when I was umm, a little younger, it will have a night n day divan at the back and a cafe dinette at the front and the fridge would have been a retrofit, although by the sounds of it a loooonng time ago.
Post by aussieambo on Dec 26, 2007 11:53:36 GMT 10
Here is another scan from 'Caravan Tests No 2' which was produced in 1971. According the mag it was dubbed the 'honeymoon special' yet while I appreciate that newly married couples were honeymooning in caravans in the 50s , early 60s, Viscount must have had a lot of trust in that trend continuing in the early 70's. The front layout of this van became very popular with potential buyers perhaps due to the dinette configuration and large windows which gave it an 'airy' appearance.
Hi Love Aussie Vans - do you still have access to this magazine?? I would love to see the rest of this article - only just noticed the post and the main featured van is the same as my Viscount - even the tail lights!
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 29, 2008 19:07:29 GMT 10
Information posted by Raym, 29 April 2008:
According to the Adelaide phone book in 1958, 59, 60 & 66 Viscount were located at 306 Glen Osmond Rd. Fullarton S.A. and in 1959 & 60 Ambassador were located at 7 Kensington Rd. Norwood S.A. If I remember corectly my father told me that some of the people that worked for Viscount left and started ther own caravan company calling it Ambasssador and almost copying the Viscount. Later Viscount bought them out and continued to use both names.
[comment by Franklin1: I've posted these pictures in the Viscount section, but this van might actually be a Valiant caravan. I will shift this over to the Valiant thread if I confirm the logo above the front and rear windows.]
Right at the beginning of this thread (reply # 2) Mark asks for information as to when Viscount started using this type of aluminium siding. This advertisement is from the 1959 Caravan and Touring Manual... we still need to confirm if they had this siding or not in 1958...... anybody know?
A couple more from the same 1959 Caravan and Touring Manual
Cobber, the description in the advertisement states "wrap around front window" but the photo is not showing that version. Is the photo really representative of this new Cuniform aluminium, do you think?
The other interesting thing in the advert is the two addresses. I was of the understanding that Viscount shifted from Adelaide to Sydney in 1958, lock stock and barrel. But I found a dealership advertisement in 1960 that boasted Viscount had factories in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. It was the one and only time in the archives that any mention was made of factories other than the one in Sydney.
Lastly, I sometimes ponder about how the brand names of Caravans came about. How was the name "Viscount" decided upon? I discovered that Viscount was started by an Englishman (name will come when I find it again), and I know the newly coronated Queen Elizabeth visited Australia in 1954 (the year Viscount started), so I wonder if there was any connection?? The Viscount model names of Royal, Supreme, Ambassador, Valiant (Prince Valiant comic strip??) all suggest a 'regal' influence.
How long before you've got the "Cobber-zobber-time-machine" finished so we can all go back and find out what the h*ll happened back in those days?
Gee have a heart fellas.... there is so much historical information of interest in these manuals that I could post every page from every manual.... just about
I have modified the above post with a couple of other adds. from the same 1959 manual.... still no wrap around windows.... can't find a photo showing them but according to the specifications page they had two models... the "Royal" @ $ 895 and the "Airflow" @ $745, maybe the Royal had the wrap arounds ?
Both models had aluminium siding... I can't find any adds. for this "Cuniform" stuff but I assume it is the same as "Al-Ply"..that is, Marine ply with flat aluminium sheet bonded to it. I'll post an article about it in the "Construction materials" forum.
Hello I have just discovered and joined this website. 2 weeks ago we purchased a 13'6' viscount caravan from Warrnambool (originally lived in Camperdown) to tow behind our fb holden sedan and station wagon. It had been in the one family for 3 generations and no longer required. We have spent the past 2 weeks fixing a small portion of the ceiling ( damaged due to a water leak), painting the interior etc. We have yet to complete the tidy up with the next thing on the agenda sealing some of the outer seams. We think it may be around 1956 and would dearly love to know some more details. The chassis number is B3047. Like I said, I am new to this site and when I work out how to add pictures I will be proud to do so. cheers Lesley
Does your 'van look like any of those shown in this thread, is it plywood or aluminium ?
If you click here you will be taken to a post that explains how to post photos. I suggest you start a thread in the "Members Photo" forum and you will be able to add photos to it as you restore your 'van.