We picked up our 1971 Viscount Ambassador for $5,800 on Gumtree after having many late night conversations about wanting to holiday as a family without it costing a fortune. This blog post is titled “renovation” but really we didn’t have to do much work to Sadie other than the external paint, for those of you that are interested in what we have done, and also what we got for our 5k, read on…
At 47 years old Sadie had good bones, the previous owners had enjoyed caravanning with their young kids and had done quite a lot of work to keep her going including installing solar panels, LED lighting, extending the drawbar, rust treatment, painting the interior and re-upholstering the seats. We were very lucky and have encountered no issues with water damage, rust or any of the other common problems that pop up with caravans of this age. If you were looking into purchasing a second hand caravan some things that we made sure to check were -
any signs of rust
that the frame looked solid
all windows and frames are secure
water damage (leaks are very common)
tow ball and security chains are in good condition
Obviously majority of older vans have any number of these issues, it’s up to you to decide your ability to fix these issues yourself or how much it would cost to repair. The main damage in our case was from hail which we didn’t care about - we actually think it adds some character!
One day we would love to completely re-vamp the old girl but for now she suits us perfectly. I’m normally a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to keeping our house in order, with two small kids this can sometimes be impossible and a little stress inducing. The whole point of buying the caravan was so that we could reconnect as a family and spend quality time together, which is made a whole lot easier with everything being a little old and dated. The kids can run wild in there and no one has to stress out over the little messes they love to make.
My dad has an aircraft refurbishment business - very handy whenever you need to paint anything! We were able to sneak the caravan in there one weekend to spray paint, it took my brother and husband approx two days to complete the job. We know a few people who have rollered their vans, but we decided to spray as we had easy access to all of the equipment. We purchased auto paint from a local supplier and at the time older vans weren’t as popular as they are now and I’d not seen a mint green one with a “V” I was in love with all of the progress shots the boys were sending through!
Other than that, our caravan has had nothing else done to it. I’d say all up we spent a little over $6,000 on the purchase price and paint costs which we’re so happy with. We have had so many wonderful adventures, most of which have been very cost effective or completely free. Our van definitely delivered the goods, we’re now able to holiday in some of the most beautiful areas in Australia for a fraction of the cost of holiday apartments.
So if an older caravan sounds appealing to you, I say go for it! You’ll be happy you did!