08/04/2016
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Interview: Vintage Cheltenham caravan reborn

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This 1972 Cheltenham Springbok vision in cream was originally a four-berth but, after 10 years of extensive renovation, is now a super-comfy two-berth that provides home-like comfort for Paul and Linda Sale, and attracts admiring glances wherever it goes.

 

Why choose a Springbok?

We have had Cheltenham caravans since 1985, and in  2004 we went to a Cheltenham Owners' Club meet and fell in love with the shape of the Springbok with its classic lantern roof. We decided that we must have one. 

As lantern-roofed Springboks are quite rare, they are expensive, and we could not afford a decent one. The club told us of one that needed a complete restoration. We paid £100 for it. It had no upholstery.

The sills were rotten and so was the floor and the pillars. The windows had been removed and had to be refitted. It had been in an accident, resulting in the rear glass-fibre section being broken into twelve pieces and the nearside wheel  arch ripped out. Apart from that it was perfect!

Before we started, I asked Linda what would be her ideal caravan and we both agreed that  a ‘new’ Springbok, with some changes to the layout for practical reasons, without changing the character, would be possible.


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How long did the renovation take?

The initial rebuild of the superstructure/floor and sills was very much dependent on the weather. However, it became easier once the shell was weatherproof.  Even then, with work and family commitments, it has taken 10 years of weekends and evenings (and it is still work in progress).

 

Was it a DIY job?

Apart from the machining of some wood sections and the upholstery, I have done everything myself. Linda made the curtains.

 

How original is it?

We admit that in some areas we have deviated slightly from the original but what you must remember is that this Springbok is not a show-only caravan, it is our everyday holiday van.

 

Have you updated the electrics?

For all the years that we have been caravanning, we have never had an electric hook-up and have relied on rotating the charging (from the car) of two or three batteries, plus a solar panel.

On the Springbok we have installed two flexible, permanent solar panels that follow the contours of the roof but cannot be seen from the ground. This means we can continue being self-sufficient. 

 

Which part of the renovation was the hardest?

The hardest job was repairing the one-piece glass-fibre end, using the 12+ pieces that remained after the accident. We also had to reconstruct the missing pieces.

 

What reactions do you get?

The Springbok attracts attention wherever we go. Just as we do, other people love the shape and the lantern roof. Lots of people we meet assume it is older than it actually is.

 

Would you do it again?

This was a project for our retirement and we are now retired and just want to enjoy lots of touring holidays.

 

Would you recommend doing what you've done?

I would recommend vintage caravan self-renovations because vintage caravans are disappearing due to a of a lack of someone to restore them. Nowadays, most only exist in photographs.

 

Where have you toured?

We toured Ireland twice in our Cheltenham Sable and often holiday on the Isle of Skye. Our favourite place is Loch Rannoch, Perthshire. That is a lovely, quiet Forrestry Commission site.

 

What's it like being in a club?

The Cheltenham Owners’ Club is very friendly and helpful with advice. Now we are retired we will be able to go to more meetings and rallies.

 

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