The first mention of RE-LAX (Relax) caravans in the Sydney Morning Herald archives is in October 1959, with the following classified advertisement: "ABSOLUTE Snap: The Relax 3 or 4 berth 10ft 4, with everything, ₤445. 9ft 3 'Vans from ₤385. Figured aluminium American bow-front from ₤610. Hire a Relax, 399 Great Western Highway, Wentworthville. YA3894" [NSW]
(The same advertisement appears on a regular basis throughout 1960.)
Then in March 1960, the following advertisement appears: "Aluminium windows made by "Qualicraft" are fitted by all discerning manufacturers, Viscount, Millard, Relax, Beautility, Sunliner, Atlantic, Tennyson, etc. etc. Fit them to your caravan..."
In December 1960, "CARAVAN Relax New condition. Beautifully finished 10cwt ₤425 ..."
The last advertisement for new Relax Caravans appears in October 1961: "Attractive Relax Caravans completely finished and painted. 9ft 3in; 10ft 4in; 12ft 4in; 14ft." By early 1962, Relax Caravans were operating solely as a place for hiring out vans, so manufacturing must have ceased sometime at the end of 1961.
Relax continued as a caravan hiring business until early 1966, when they started to sell new Franklin caravans and stopped hiring vans. In June 1969, the Relax business was bought out by Pathfinder, who were also a Franklin distributor.
Last Edit: Apr 16, 2009 22:59:22 GMT 10 by Franklin1
(source: listed on ebay Sept 2008, with the [edited] description: Always garaged this one owner classic has remained untouched in the shed since 1978 when it was last registered. It is in great sound condition and totally complete. The van is approximately 10 1/2 foot or approximately 13 foot including the drawbar. It features seating at both ends. One end converts to twin bunks and the dining end to a double bed. There is a wardrobe, plenty of storage space and the kitchen has all the modern conveniences - an ice chest and methylated spirit stove which is an Australian made 'Maxie'. The original operating instructions sticker is still attached. The manufacturer, now Maxco Industries is still operating in Sydney. Flyscreens are fitted and there is even an annexe.)
[note: I confirmed with the seller that the nameplate above the front window says RE-LAX. There is no design on the glass in the port-hole window.]
Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 20, 2008 18:02:51 GMT 10
Funny you should say that about the Re-Lax and Fairway signs. I have been asking myself much the same question. The Roma caravans of the same era had a similar nameplate judging from Groovygramps van. The interesting thing is that your Fairway came from Queensland, the Re-Lax from NSW and the Roma from Melbourne, which means if the same person/company was making the signs they were covering a bit of territory. Quite possible of course.
Another possibility though is that you could buy the red plastic letters off the shelf and the different van makers knocked up their own signs. The reason I suggest that is I think I vaaaguely (very vaaaaaaguely) remember seeing the letters up on a rack in hardware shops when I was a kid. People used to use them for the house number on their gate posts.
I'm wondering if they used to be reflective? I might be wrong about that though. Are the letters on the Fairway reflective?
Post by goldenoldie on Sept 20, 2008 18:06:07 GMT 10
Hi Reddo and Don! If I am correct the ROMA appears to use the same sign as the RE-LAX and the FAIRWAY.Sure makes it look like there was enough business for someone to make these signs.So where are all the vans now? Cheers! goldenoldie.
Hi Don No they are not reflective. But.. they are of a very good quality. The mould and whoever use to make the words up knew what they where doing. Perhaps a neon sign company produced them without the "Neons". I have thought about drilling in behind the sign and fitting L.E.Ds so i could light the sign up at night like a "Dixies Diner " sign... WHAT!! AND MOLEST AN ORIGINAL VINTAGE CARAVAN
Hi golden oldie.. Yup ... the signwriter sure got around. The mob that use to manufacture neon and perspex signs locally here in Newcastle was called "Opalescent signs" Obviuosly plenty of work for those companies back in the 50s and 60s. Van signs would have just been a small part of thier customer work.
Still reckon they would look great lit up at night with a few LED's mounted in behind them.
Last Edit: Sept 26, 2008 10:16:22 GMT 10 by Deleted
Post by goldenoldie on Sept 26, 2008 15:16:14 GMT 10
Wow,love that van.And TWO portholes!The tow car ain't bad either!I have an original ad for the holden in a December 1954 copy of HOME BEAUTIFUL.I will see if I can add it to the forum in the appropriate location.Interesting that the sign on the Castle is in upper and lower case and the other vans are all in upper case.Thanks also Reddo for the info on Opalescent signs.Has anyone checked with them to see if they ever had a list of van models they made signs for?Maybe there are more makes of vans out there than we all know about. Cheers,goldenoldie.
April 1969 sees Pathfinder have opened another yard at Wentworthville in Sydney. Now two yards, old one still at Artarmon. June 1969 sees Pathfinder taking over the business of Relax Caravans, and is clearing all the Relax stock.
DonR, just to clarify what happened with Relax Caravans and Pathfinder...
Like many of the smaller manufacturers of caravans in Sydney in the early 1960s, Relax (or Re-Lax) found they couldn't compete with the big players. In December 1961 they were advertising new vans for sale, as well as "good clean vans for hire". In early 1962, their advertisements were only showing vans for hire, so I presume they stopped making them sometime around the start of 1962. Quite a number of other Sydney brands hired out vans as well as made them, so it seems it was the era of hiring rather than buying en masse.
Relax Caravans ended up being one of a few brand names that made the progression from manufacturer to hire yard to 'Big Brand Dealer'. In Relax's case, they became a Franklin Caravan distributor in early 1966 at their yard at 399 Gt Western Hwy, Wentworthville.
Pathfinder, who in early 1969 was already was a Franklin distributor at Artarmon, came along and bought the property at No.395, two doors down from Relax. A couple of months later, Pathfinder are announcing they've bought the Relax business and are clearing all the Relax stock, so giving people the opportunity to "buy the latest Franklins at the cheapest price ever." Maybe Mr. Relax had decided he'd had enough of caravans and that it was time to go home and relax and let Pathfinder take over the Franklin reins for that area...