Best older school caravans?



As the winter is not far around the corner i want to get organised and buy a van or the annual camping trip might not go ahead....


I'm not into bells and whistles nor am i into plastic fantastic i just want practical so i'm looking at grabbing an old van and if needed bring her back to life and use it hopefully for many years to come....


Like most things i figure the running gear on the older vans will be made from real steel so provided that is in reasonable order then the rest can be touched up/water proofed etc etc....


I'm just not real sure where to start is the problem here.....


Dont get me wrong if i had a spare 140K i'd get the Bushtracker but for now something sub 10k is what i'm looking for.....


So if anyone knows the better brands from yesteryear you're opinions will be appreciated.....





sea-kem's picture

Posts: 11306

Date Joined: 30/11/09

 Heaps for free at the old

Wed, 2018-01-10 20:47

 Heaps for free at the old Gnarloo caravan graveyard mate. We saw one up there with all the windows taped and screwed shut wondering if the gimp was inside lol.


Love the West!

timboon's picture

Posts: 1802

Date Joined: 14/11/10

 One of my good mates prob

Thu, 2018-01-11 07:19

 One of my good mates prob can lay claim to a couple of them Andy, he used to leave his old van behind the dunes not far from 3 miles then skull drag it back to his camp site each year...

quadfisher's picture

Posts: 973

Date Joined: 28/09/10

2 cents

Thu, 2018-01-11 07:44

Unless you have a f250 for towing , my choice would deff be a older model pop top.

I have towed a couple of older hire vans back in the 80,s , ( they were prob 70,s models vans ) and gee there heavy and tow like a wheelbarrow with a wonky wheel.

Much later we hired a real old pop top , and towed it to Albany , gravel roads , and dont tell the hire company , sand tracks and it was fine.

I think it was a jayco , it had prob done a million miles , but was basic , well worn , but comfy on a budget.

Canvas can be redone , it wouldnt be cheap , but if you buy right , its worth it.


both below 5k , one just above  , cheap and cheerful.

Throw some new springs , wheel bearings , some l.e.d lighting etc , just to bring up to spec and away you go.

However this may not be your bag , but just keep in mind , if a older full size van has leaked or needs repairs , the costs will be greater to repair.

I have been camping since a kid , staying in those old canvas army type tents that leaked , and im 52 now , we camp regually , in most weathers with my teen girls,

and to this day we have a $150 popup tent for overnighters , and a slightly bigger $250 one for 3 or 4 days or more, couple of self inflating mattresses and we are good to go!



timboon's picture

Posts: 1802

Date Joined: 14/11/10

 Cheers for taking the time

Thu, 2018-01-11 08:02

 Cheers for taking the time to reply Quad...


The van of choice for me was going to be a Goldstream pop top/out but the more thought i put into it the more i think i'll steer clear of the pop top/out vans....


We've now got two boys 3.5 and 4 months and usually its a couple of days to get to where we like to go, i'm sick of re-fuelling at busy fuel stations so from now on i'll have oodles of fuel and ready made lunch in one of the fridges instead of a dried out old $10 pie, lining up in the line to get expensive fuel all the while worried someone is going to run over one of the kids or the hound.....




Although the pop tops may tow a little better i'm not going to be in a hurry, i'll have a 4mtr tinny on the roof of my ute so the height wont be really an issue, yes you'll cop extra drag from any wind that is not straight up the bum or straight in front but realistically its only a couple of big trips a year so not really an issue.....


I dont tow in 5th, the Hilux tows a 6mtr boat ok so i'm hoping the same will be said about a van....


One of the most important aspects will be the Annex, or adapting the 4x4mtr camp kitchen we now have to create the outdoor space....


If the van doesnt come with an annex i'll get that built....


Really the van just becomes a wind proof/water proof area to bed down at night and on those mongrel days when you just play cards and chill...


Our camp at the moment consists of a tent ( 15 mins to erect plus say 15 to get beds sorted ) - Our camp kitchen/shelter is awsome its 4 x 4 mtrs with plenty of height but it takes about 3 hours to get up and another prob 2 hours to get the cooker/fridges/lights/food sorted and after you've been driving for 20 hours it wears thin ( i dont mind but i'm getting over ruled here )...


If we are going somewhere for a solid block of ten days plus its no drama but we can't just stop have a couple of days pack up and head off and this is where the van will be a winner...


Long winded i know but i hope that explains the dilemma..... ( just sounds like usual camping really doesnt it )



Doc's picture

Posts: 520

Date Joined: 29/05/16

 Couple of people down here

Thu, 2018-01-11 10:21

 Couple of people down here in Tassie I keep on seeing around the place have older style caravans, they have had the underneaths, wheels and suspensions done so they tow nicely. Aside from the fact they can’t get overly heavy with extra water and stuff, they do ok free camping.

ranmar850's picture

Posts: 2072

Date Joined: 12/08/12

So, your gonna be a dinghy fisherman...

Thu, 2018-01-11 13:37


So sad, I'll wave to you inside the reef while you're catching squid 

timboon's picture

Posts: 1802

Date Joined: 14/11/10

 Ralph I've thought about

Thu, 2018-01-11 17:38

 Ralph I've thought about buying a second 4x4 just so I'm not that guy! She can tow the precious van she has to have! I'll tow the boat and follow you around!

Posts: 393

Date Joined: 20/02/11

 Selling mine currently, but

Thu, 2018-01-11 22:13

 Selling mine currently, but I'm in the same boat mate with the kids. I've got a 3 and 5 year old and am now looking for a camper. It did the job for a couple of years and is pretty painless to setup, but you can get a bloody good camper for that money.



ranmar850's picture

Posts: 2072

Date Joined: 12/08/12

Ha Ha. Yes, a mate bought a camper

Fri, 2018-01-12 10:13

 he used to camp up there with us a lot, still comes up there sometimes. Has a 19ft Westerberg, but now that gets left home. Brings up a dinghy and catches a squid--when they haven't been cleaned out by the other dinghy fishermen, that is. I feel sorry for him and take him out .  I'll take you out too, you'll just have to put up with being on a Reef Runner.

This is why I use a slide-on Heaslip--not as flash as a new camper or caravan, but the boat can always come. And there is more than one couple camped up there where she tows the boat and he tows the van.

Posts: 365

Date Joined: 27/12/09

Join Caravan and Camping Australia on Facebook, great page

Tue, 2018-01-16 21:24