At The Heart of The Vintage Caravan Craze
We speak to the Whitianga couple about the inspiration behind their book, Vintage and Retro Caravans Downunder
Tucked in a tiny room of pearl and teal, Don and Marilyn Jessen have a feeling of contentment. “Everything about it makes us smile,” they say. “It has a warm sense of nostalgia that wraps you up.”
The couple are not describing their modern Whitianga home, which they sometimes find too big. Instead, they’re in their little domestic getaway: A 1958 Liteweight Kiwi caravan.
The vintage van sits squeezed on their front drive, its gleaming shell a beacon to visitors. “It feels so different from our home. It’s a holiday waiting to happen the minute you step inside.”
Don arrived home with “Daisy Mae” in 2006, a gift from his father, who designed and built the model. It was, however, in need of some repair. Marilyn soon embraced the retro fix-up, adding her flair for interior design.
Weekends are now spent trawling antique shops together. They were, it turns out, early converts to the DIY caravan craze.
Don and Marilyn have since toured New Zealand and Australia, returning with not only 20,000-clocked kilometres, but the stories of others doing the same, which they have turned into a book.
Vintage and Retro Caravans Downunder profiles rare and beautiful models from the 1920s to 1970s. Filled with Marilyn’s photos, it also includes tips on van restoration and insight into decor across the decades.
Vanning has become a way of life for many Kiwis, they say. A life without their little home on wheels is now unimaginable.
• Vintage and Retro Caravans Downunder by Don and Marilyn Jessen, $50. Available from Paper Plus, Paper Plus Select and Take Note.