Buying an Older or Nostalgic Caravan


A growing trend is to source an older van (eg Mum and Dad’s old camper or a cute nostalgic caravan) and aim to restore it to good working order.

A bargain can quickly turn into an expensive mishap.

Spending money on an aged van may still be a significant benefit over the cost of a new caravan however is it likely the cost outlay will exceed market value not be recovered in a future sale.

Once this is accepted, understood and appropriate allowances made (ie Cost and time) owning and restoring van can be rewarding.

Some basic traps are:

  • The materials are no longer available or are so rare they are now more expensive then their modern counterparts
  • Certain components may no longer comply with regulations or good safety precautions (eg Gas fittings, electrical standards, towing set-up).
  • The chassis may be weakened by rust or metal fatigue (Not always obvious to the untrained eye)
  • The suspension is likely to need upgrading
  • The brakes and tyres are critical and would need a thorough and professional inspection
  • The weather seals must be inspected and likely replaced – This may entail removing and refitting panels, hatches etc.

Any van older than 20 years would need a thorough inspection for all of the above plus leaks and general wear and tear. It would be wise to accept that a definitive quote could not be given to restore a van beyond this age to good working order without such an inspection and then possibly to be given a caveat depending what may be discovered during any agreed repairs.

Vans older than 30 years are likely to incur high unexpected costs and would be best tackled as a DIY project.