Vintage vans: 1930s Hawthorn van

Caravan World — 2 July 2011

WE ALWAYS ASK vintage caravan owners what made them choose their particular rig. It’s a question that produces some surprisingly diverse answers. They may like something quite specific about their caravan, such as its brand, age, styling, or construction material.

Or, conversely, maybe theirs was the only vintage van they could find.

But when we asked Kevin and Elaine Appleby why they bought their 1938 Hawthorn caravan, it wasn’t for any of these reasons. They replied that they were attracted to their caravan because, “We just love leadlight windows.”

HAWTHORN CARAVANS TAKE their name from the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, where they were built. These beautifully rounded wooden vans look very similar to the famous Don caravans. Both have old-fashioned leadlight windows, with those little diamond shaped pieces of glass. The year of this Hawthorn is estimated to be about 1938, based on the wheels and its built-in wooden step.

This vintage caravan was found under a carport, half exposed to the elements on a block in the Dandenong Ranges. It was in such a poor state that it required a full restoration – new chassis, new frame, new walls. The restoration was carried out by another vintage caravan enthusiast, who then sold the van to Kevin and Elaine. So they were lucky enough to acquire a 70 year old vintage caravan that was in good working order.

Looking inside the caravan, we found plenty of retro features. There is a zinc water tank on a shelf above the sink and an old icebox (click here for our blog on vintage iceboxes). Kevin and Elaine are collectors, so they have added further accessories, like the unusual electric stove in a box. They found it in an antique shop, and admit that is not quite of the correct period. But it looks great anyway and helps to create that nostalgic feeling of holidaying in the past.


hawthorn vintage 1938 van retro blog Outback Equipment Vehicle Review 2011


Caravan Staff