Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My new 1963 vauxhall PB Cresta

Vicky the caravan now has a new partner. Having had the ad for this cute classic Cresta pinned to my fridge since August last year, my dream finally came true when she was delivered to my house recently. Every time I had opened the fridge I had looked at the photo in the torn out piece of newspaper and said: "She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine". I watched over the next few months as the price was reduced and then, in early December, the ad stopped appearing and I worried I might have waited too long and missed out. So when it reappeared just before Christmas at an even lower price I took no chances and bought her.
So it's not the EH Holden I had in mind, but I reckon it's the next best thing. It's a Vauxhall Cresta PB built in 1963 and very similar in design to the EJ Holden as it was also made by GMH. But for some reason, the Vauxhall does not seem to have captured the Aussie hearts the way the EJ and EH's have and when I excitedly tell motoring enthusiasts of my new aquisition I get chuckles and other less favourable responses.

Well, I don't get it. I think she's beautiful and I can't wait to get her restored and, yes, painted pink! At the moment she's in perfect running order, drives like a dream with her very cool "Hydramatic" automatic transmission and comfy bench seats and lots and lots of shining chrome in almost perfect condition.
We are already booked in to make our first appearance at an upcoming clasic car show - not as a show car, but as a vintage van and classic car combo in original condition and I can't wait to get the towbar put on her and take her and Vicky out for their very first photo shoot.

And here's one of the best things about this car; the mascot. Apparently it is off a 1954-55 Velox and has obviously been added by one of the previous owners, but I just love it!  All the chrome on the car is all in great condition and it even has a spare grille and hubcap in the boot!
Despite a severe lack of information on these cars, I have managed to find out that there are only around 50 of these cars still on the road in the UK where they were made, and only a handful left here in Australia, so despite what anyone else might think, I reckon I've scored something really special here and I love her to bits!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Southward bound!

Maleny to Lennox head, NSW and back 4-6 Feb 2011 (562km)

This trip had been in the planning for quite some time. The weekend away was pre-booked with a whole swag of members from the vintage caravan forums and so yet another weekend of old vans, classic cars, hot rods and good company was assured.
When Mum had told me she was planning a visit over from New Zealand at around this time I'd said "I have a vintage caravan outing then". She had suggested rescheduling her trip until after that. "No way!" I said. "Come along, you'll love it!" Having already made my son promise to join me on this one, I thought why not make it a family affair and drag Mum along too?

Mum's flight got in at 10.30am. At 9am I was still running around Maleny organising last minute things like an oil top up for the car. Then there was some last minute tweaking of the electricals on the tow bar to fix the right indicator which was wired wrong. Thanks to the lovely Maleny mechanic at JLR Mechanical and the Maleny Auto electrician next door for squeezing those last minute repairs in for me! Van all loaded on to the car, and bags all packed, the next stop was a fuel up and air pressure check on all tyres before hitting the road; destination Brisbane International. At around this point, running about half an hour behind schedule I got a text from Mum. "I'm here, where are you?". Ummm, "I'm still in Beerwah!" Oops! I raced down the highway at the speed limit (not something I normally do when pulling a van) to pick up a waiting Mum with the hopes of then dashing down to Yatala to meet the meandering convoy at 11.30 for the rest of the journey. Amazingly we made it! The pace slowed considerably from there, as the older cars and their cute caravans cruised down the highway at a much more leisurely pace, getting us into Byron Bay for a scenic detour and arriving at Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park at around 2pm QLD time.

The weather was awesome! We went for a swin in the surf once camp was set up, and then soothed weary bodies in the warmer and more sheltered tea tree lake. Once night fell, there was a big sausage sizzle at the communal BBQ area and vintage vanners gathered for a feed and a yarn well into the night.

On Saturday morning while some of the vintage vanners decided to go off treasure hunting at local garage sales, Mum, Bas and I went to Byron Bay. Although the beach there was nice, I found the town itself just a bit too full of tourists and hectic busy-ness for my liking, so we parked the car down the southern end of the beach and went for a long walk up to the lighthouse and back and all got severely sunburnt in the process! The lighthouse was beautiful, as always; a most photogenic landmark it is, set against the bright blue sky on the most perfect Summer's day. It was the first taste of a real summer I'd felt in a long, long time. All we've had here in the "Sunshine State" for the past three months or more, is rain!
I accosted a guy in the lighthouse carpark who was applying sunblock and asked if he'd mind if we could have a bit. "Is it always this hot here?" I asked. "Are you not from around here?" he asked. "No, I'm from Queensland!" It was pretty funny.

Anyway, we had a blast, despite looking like beetroots, came back for fish and chips and slept soundly. On Sunday morning Banno's crew made use of their new industrial-sized pancake makers for a communal griddle cake breakfast on the BBQ's - yum yum!

Then all the coolest cars and hot rods lined up and took many willing passengers for a quick blast around Lennox head which caused quite a stir with the onlookers at the local pub! Mum, Bas and I all got to ride in Banno's bright orange rod which went beautifully with the cute Sunliner they had only just finished in time to bring down to this event.

There were a great selection of vans and cars to be seen, a total of 26 vans attended and the whole weeekend was relaxed, stress-free and loads of fun with a real seaside family-holiday feel to the weeekend. And that, after all is what vintage caravanning is all about! Bas had fun with Izzy and the Banno boys - something to do with sparklers, glow sticks and bombs... hmmmm... no damage done apparently!

I managed to get some video footage of all the vans as I wandered around on Sunday morning before everyone packed up to go home. The Olympic fibregalass contingent were all gathered in one corner (they assure me this was pure coincidence). Then there were 1950's bondwoods, 1960's aluminiums, and a few fibreglass bubble shaped sunliners like Joey and Banno's along with a teardop and a couple of folding vans scatterd about within our designated part of the park.

For all her initial doubts, I think I've managed to convince Mum, as I have down with so many people now, that caravanning is not "camping". It's so much more civilized being able to rock up at your destination with your own bedroom all made up just the way you like it, a fully stocked pantry, a working fridge, stove, and electricity. This 'aint no roughing it - I adventure in retro style! Now Mum is even looking at vans for sale in New Zealand so I think I may have hooked another one!
So, the trip home was a lot quicker without the convoy and without incident. I love having that little van behind me, it makes the whole journey so much more fun.
We all had so much fun at Lennox Head that we've decided to do it all again next month.

Congratulations Mum on your first Vintage caravan outing!