I caught up with classic-caravan legends Don and Marilyn Jessen as usual, and will share Don’s latest little honey in the next issue, but I was most excited to see a blue 1962 Ford Anglia set up and looking gorgeous beside a petite 1956 Starliner Starlette eight-foot caravan.
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I had seen these two vehicles before – driving out of Martinborough a couple of years ago during a Cruise Martinborough classic-car weekend – but had missed meeting them at the event. At the time I was really disappointed to have missed them as I have a bit of a love for the old Ford Anglia – when I was 15 my first car was an Anglia with a hotted up motor under the hood, mag wheels and a racing steering wheel.
My boyfriend at the time, Kevin, was and is a car and racing nut, so drag racing and hot rods took up some weekends, and rebuilding a car or TQ midget took up half the week nights – ah those were the days, yeah the days when you could fix a car without a computer tuner and degree in technology of some sort.
I sat down with owners Ross and Karine Gardner at their perfectly ‘knitted tea party’ table set for a few minutes in between the crowds of people wanting to see inside the caravan and ask them questions.
They purchased the caravan in April 2014 and the rebuild started immediately. Ross showed me the photo board of the caravan on day one when it arrived at their home in Napier; the original colour scheme was white and yellow. The strip-out started that same day. By day two the caravan had been split in two, and by the afternoon was down to its basic metal chassis and wall structure. The rebuild went ahead at quite a pace from there, and when everything came back together a new, custom-built interior, complete with curves and cupboard lines to match the roof line, was now fitted. Even though it is only around 400kg in weight, Ross had brakes built into the unit as it was being made for the Ford Anglia, a car that only clocks the scales at around 850kg. It should be fine, but he wanted to be sure the vehicle had full control of the caravan on the road – good thinking.
The interior fit-out is simple and features two single beds/loungers, between them with a pretty decent length bench (opposite entry) a small 12-volt compressor fridge under the bench plus storage cupboards. A red Perspex splashback behind the sink bench gives off a bright vibe and links to the other splashes of red in the styling and fitted accessories.
The car has its own story to tell: Ross bought the vehicle around 17 years ago and since then has had all sorts of major work done on it. In fact it looks like a 1962 Ford Anglia Deluxe that originally came out with a four-speed manual gearbox, but Ross has dropped in a 1.6-litre Ford Sierra Pinto motor mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. He has also changed all the running gear to later model fitments – the steering, brakes, pedals, differential, the lot. Effectively, all that remains of the original Ford Anglia is its body, interior panels and badges, etc.
They have been cruising around the country to various events for the last couple of years or so, but an itch has started and change is coming. I hear Karime is ready for an upgrade, but I wonder if Ross has told her about his new and quickly growing obsession; a project that will occupy much of his time – this time a very rare Volvo 544 to work on. I wonder what caravan they will want to match with that Swedish classic?
Look out for this couple at events like Beach Hop and Cruise Martinborough. From what I hear, at any Art Deco themed event around the country or in their home town of Napier, you will see this couple dressed in theme, throwing themselves into the atmosphere with gusto. I look forward to seeing them again in the future.