Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 22, 2009 16:54:01 GMT 10
CARIBBEAN CARAVANS Photos of a fibreglass van posted by Mark T on 16 November 2009 here, and identified by Vantourer as a Caribbean caravan manufactured by International Plastics:
The verandah/baseball cap brim and the chimney on this example are not original.
Further information about the history and possible origins of Caribbean caravans can be found on the Our Touring Past website.
International Plastics - now known as International Marine - is the manufacturer of fibreglass Caribbean boats, with the Caribbean brand name indicating a link to the caravans. According to a timeline provided on the St Kilda Boat Sales website, International Plastics was founded by Arch Spooner in 1958. Spooner was apparently a pioneer in fibreglass boat manufacture in Australia, and introduced Mercury outboard engines to the country. The Spooner family also developed the St Kilda Marina in Melbourne.
From the above, it looks as if International Plastics may have been another one of the several Australian companies which started building caravans, but ended up changing directions to manufacture boats.
The fact that International Plastics started in 1958 and were into fibre glass might explain something a bit strange about this caravan.
In the mid 1950s “Willerby” in the UK were among the first to start making 'vans with “Glass-Fibre” as it was called. It would be interesting to know the length of this 'van Mark spotted because Willerby's first fibre glass model was called the “Vista”.... it was 17' long and was closely followed by the “Vogue” which was 14' long. I only have photos of the “Vogue” and it differs from the one posted above by not having the front and rear side windows...... so maybe it's a modified “Vogue” if it's 14' long or a “Vista” if it's 17' long (You would tend to think the 17' model would have the side windows aye?) It would also be interesting to know if the “A” frame was integral with the fibre glass floor pan...... as was the case with the “Willerby”... they had no separate chassis. The “Vogue” was made in 56/57 and was not a good seller because only 100/200 were made..... maybe Mr. Spooner got hold of the mould in 1958.??
Even back in the 1950s Willerby were making “living 'vans” as the Poms call them... and they are still going strong doing just that. There is a bit of history regarding the firm here.
These photos show the similarity with the one Mark saw.
The side styles certainly look the same, although the semi wrap around corner windows are on the UK vans only - maybe just something not easily available in Australia at the time, so if they did use the same moulds they modified them to take flat windows they could source locally.
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 23, 2009 20:28:17 GMT 10
G'day Cobber and Viking,
That's fascinating info you've posted about the Caribbean's sister/cousin from the UK. That's what I love about this forum - Mark T posts some photos, Vantourer identifies the van, and the rest of us are able to do a bit of research and contribute to the knowledge base - a real team effort!
To my eyes the Caribbean/Willerby was quite an attractive van in its original form. I particularly like the almost organic tubelike holders for the front and rear lights.
I note that the article for the Caribbean van Vantourer has posted on the Our Touring Past website has the side windows which are missing on the van pictured in the post leading this thread. I wonder if the person who added the 'verandah' also filled in the windows?
Regarding the Willerby Vista, Andrew Jenkins records in his book Caravans: The Illustrated History - 1919-1959: "The possbilities of GRP [glass reinforced plastic] caught the imagination not only of the upmarket manufacturers: Willerby, of Hull, designed and built a 17ft four-berth van completely out of GRP. Called the Vista, it was hailed by the caravan press as a van with "futuristic looks" when it appeared in 1956. Willerby not only built the van with GRP, but also the furniture. The van's roof lockers were moulded into shape, as was the sink and water tank (an unusual feature). Priced at 575 [pounds], it was not cheap. The Vista did not live up to expectations, and was soon replaced. The Vogue, with a shorter body length of 14ft, was introduced for the 1957 model year. Again, it had an eye-catching shape, much better looking than the Vista. The rear road lights were integrated into the Vogue's mouldings, giving the impression of car fins (then fashionable). Willerby had almost dispensed with a conventional chassis for the Vogue, only a wishbone chassis was needed as the Willerby designers had supported the Vogue's floor with strengthening struts. The price was 475 [pounds]. Unfortunately, the production costs were simply too high, and Willerby abandoned the Vogue and GRP after around a hundred of the vans had been built." (p. 85)
It would be interesting to know what features of the Vogue were retained in the Caribbean. In hindsight, given the success of Sunliner and Olympic caravans, Arch Spooner in Australia was onto something when he started to manufacture the Caribbean to the Vogue design. Unfortunately, it appears he picked the wrong horse...
Given Jenkinson's comments about the Vogue, it seems that the people in the UK with one of these caravan have quite a rare van, and I would think that the owner of the Caribbean van posted by Mark T has an even rarer animal on his hands.
Just for interest sake, because there has been speculation regarding the elusive Willerby Vista and whether it was of a similar appearance to the Vogue/Carribean. The only photo I have seen of it is courtesy of the excellent UK Thomson Caravans Site
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 7, 2015 15:56:30 GMT 10
On 28 February 2015, Sutcac wrote:
The things one finds driving around the back blocks of Burrum Heads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cobber responded on the same day:
Have you got anymore photos of it because it is either a Caribbean caravan or an English Vogue, they both came out of the same mould actually, but it will be interesting to see what this one looked like from the rear
Cobber. To which Sutcac replied:
Hi Cobber. Ask and you shall receive.
Still on the same day Cobber posted:
Wow ! Looks like the English Vogue aye ?
Did you buy it ? are you going to restore ? Or did you find out if it's present owner is going to restore it ?
I don't know what was wrong with these vans because not many people seem to love 'em.
Cobber. And Sutcac replied again:
The current owner intends to restore it. (Rather him than me!) Apparently they only have a half A frame which extends only part way under the van. Maybe this was their shortcoming, engineering wise?
Apparently made in limited numbers in Scoresby, Victoria
DC3Td joined the conversation:
Unusual & interesting `van.Did IPA p/l have licence to manufacture these (Vogue copies) or does the label actually refer to polymer products that IPA sold & some one stuck on the `van? And Cobber concrred:
We need the answers to your questions Gordon, International Plastics obviously got hold of the mould, did they turn out a couple of copies of the vogue before they decided to 'improve' on it and turn out the 'Caribbean' ? Or did they actually import a couple of Vogues
Cobber. To which DC3Td replied:
In our Memorabilia Section > Page 2 > eighth heading > "Stuff" > pics 4 & 5 show my brass & painted Willerby badge S 103,6" W x 3 1/2" H which would fit where the IPA sticker is now. gordon...
***** Where the IPA sticker is,the recess is the same shape as a Willerby badge ***** The post and Willerby nameplate to which DC3Td made reference:
It is interesting to note that the IPA serial number is in a similar format and quite close in numerical terms to the serial number on DC3Td's Willerby nameplate! In fact I'm wondering if the serial number on the IPA sticker is '103'? Is it possible the van was imported and the van and DC3Td's nameplate actually belonged to each other?
Hello We have just bought a 'Willerby Vogue' (1957) it needs some TLC so we are restoring very carefully! Actually it seems to be in good shape for its age. It needs a new window frame - so we are researching a replacement. Alas it could be expensive for 1 aluminium frame! We have been quoted £400!
After a couple of days I went looking and twigged to the fact that you are actually in the UK, even found YOUR SLIDE SHOW It looks like you are doing great things with that Vogue, have you been in touch with the Historic Caravan Club in the UK, I'm sure they would like to have you on board and they might be able to point you in the direction of a new window frame