Don and Marilyn Jessen are well known on the vintage and retro caravan scene. Don’s father Tek Jessen, founded Liteweight Caravans in 1946 and went on to become New Zealand’s largest caravan manufacturer producing 14,778 caravans, and over 2700 cabins, tiny homes, motorhomes and aluminium boats.

The original badges - Hillcrest Hamilton Liteweight Caravans deluxe Special

Don became interested in vintage caravans in 2003 when he restored a 1956 Liteweight Kiwi MkII 12-footer. It was the last caravan Tek built in his home garage before moving to a new factory. Don and Marilyn have since travelled over 20,000km in this van covering about 85 per cent of New Zealand. In 2015 they restored a 1962 Liteweight Silver Planet 14-footer that they then sold after obtaining Daisy Mae.

Don Jessen, author and passionate caravan builder and collector

Daisy Mae, is a 14-foot Liteweight Kiwi, one of just 28 built. To date just six other survivors have been located. Four have been restored and another found in Northland while the sixth is rotting away in a paddock in the Catlins.

Single berth at one end, set back storage drawers, and lovely curved overhead cupboards, there is lots to love here

Daisy Mae was found on Cheltenham Beach in Devonport and was towed across the sand beach after extraction from her resting place. Dave McRobbie, at Caravan & Motorhome World Ltd, rebuilt the chassis and replaced the drawbar that had fallen off during the rescue mission due to rust damage. Five layers of exterior paint were removed and the van repainted in two-tone turquoise and cream by Mike Wells at Retro Custom Caravans. Don redesigned the exterior’s streamlining, while Marilyn researched colours of the fifties and came up with the final exterior paint scheme.


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