This year’s spring show was picture perfect, weather wise, and the kind folks who arrived with their restored, or in some cases totally rebuilt, classic caravans – some with colour-matched classic tow cars – enjoyed setting up a classic camping scene where they kicked back and allowed visitors the pleasure of seeing their caravans and sharing their stories.

A single bed on each side of the kitchen bench – plenty of storage options under here as well as above

This little caravan has been stripped right back, taken apart and rebuilt from the axles up

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.

The original caravan was taken home and stripped out on day one. Day two it was cut in half, and by day three it was a shell and the rebuild commenced

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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.

The kitchen bench is pretty good – fridge is under bench. The curve of the roofline is carried through to the overhead cupboards

All the basics for two – utilities and crockery storage spot above the fridge, and power points to the left under bench. Nice bright red Laminex splashback

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.

Retro styled and suitably red fan, 1950s air-con unit The 12V compressor fridge can even make ice

The 12V compressor fridge can even make ice

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.

Venetian blinds also keep a 50s to 60s vibe. Lots of storage pockets around for bits and bobs. Love the roof curve and the good-sized roof vent above

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.

This is a 1962 Ford Anglia Deluxe sports car body, but underneath is a different beast with the two-litre Ford Sierra Pinto motor with five-speed gearbox

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 Starlette badge shows the number 8, which likely means the length of this van – can anyone tell us otherwise?

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.

Styling and theming is popular with classic caravanners – this is going the extra mile though

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?

Ross and Karime Gardener, proud owners of the 1962 Ford Anglia matched with the 1956 Starliner Starlette eight-foot caravan

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.

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