Vintage vans: A question of colour

Susan and Keith Hall — 8 October 2011

WHAT COLOUR SHOULD you paint a vintage caravan? It’s the sort of question that would provoke endless discussion among vintage vanners. Some would say, "Whatever colour you like." Others would say, “The same colour as your tow car.” Some might even say, "Don't paint it at all – just keep the patina of age."

When vintage van enthusiast Mark Taylor found his 1955 Don 120 caravan, he knew it needed to be repainted. But he also knew exactly what colour it should be. As a new van, the Don was painted cream with a green stripe, so it should obviously be repainted in exactly the same colour scheme. Mark likes to re-create the look and feel of caravanning in the past, and wanted to keep the Don looking exactly as it did originally.

But he soon found that there was one big snag – the exact colours used to paint the Don in 1955 don’t exist anymore. You can still get many standard shades of cream and green, but none of them is an exact match with the original colours. However, Mark wasn’t deterred; he consulted a paint expert, and had some custom-made paint produced to match the original colour of the van. As a result, the 12ft bondwood Don looks almost exactly the same today as it did in the 1950s.

Whether by good luck or good management, Mark also had the perfect tow car for his historic Don. Some years ago he bought a rare, Australian-built 1950 Chevrolet pickup. The big ute tows the caravan nicely, and as a bonus it is also a cream colour which complements the Don very nicely. Maybe this striking rig is the "cream" of the crop.


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Susan and Keith Hall