Retro caravan rebuild part 4: Vintage caravan accessories

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Finally, our series on caravan restoration looks at accessorising – including the decorative flourishes that enhance the retro experience, and what you need to do to register your vintage van and get it back on the road.

Go retro

If you want to be true to the original but are unsure of the make and model of your vintage caravan, there is an Australian database you can search to find details and pictures.

Scour antique shops and second-hand dealers for vintage fittings, kitchenware and appliances. Engage the shop owners, as they will be happy to help you source originals that are appropriate and in good working condition.

Awnings used to be colourful striped canvas on wooden poles or mounted over windows. It should be fairly easy to reproduce that, though you might want to use waterproof canvas and paint the poles with weatherproof varnish.

Beautiful yet practical

There’s no reason why you can’t step back in time when you’re inside your vintage caravan yet still have modern technology and safety features.

Even with your newly insulated walls, some nights might be cold so consider heating options such as space heaters, which can be disguised in the panelling.

Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and always have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket handy.

Corner steadies can’t be tucked away out of sight when your van is not in use, but they make sure that your vintage caravan won’t tip when you walk around inside so may be a necessity. Likewise, an electronic stability control (ESC) system will help to minimize the possibility of uncontrollable sway if you ever need to swerve suddenly when you’re out on the road.

Even the most determined vintage caravan purist would forgive you for adding a new jockey wheel, coupling or weight distributor hitch, so look at our installation guides.

  • How to replace the coupling .

Be ready for registration

To satisfy legal requirements for caravan registration, some features of your newly-rebuilt caravan are not negotiable.

  • The coupling must be rated correctly to Australian standards, and for the weight of the caravan.
  • It is a legal requirement in all states that caravans over two tonnes gross trailer mass (GTM) are fitted with a breakaway system and have brakes on all wheels.
  • Lighting and rear vision must be sufficient and in good working order and to Australian Design Rules. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have vintage taillights that you might have found somewhere, but it does mean that they must be correctly wired and working.

Congratulations, you are now the owner of a gloriously rebuilt vintage caravan – time to dress up in your glad rags and show her off at a rally.

Take a look at our tips for keeping your vintage pride and joy safe from intruders.


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