By Maz Woolley
The photographs included are by, and copyright of, the Author. Advertising Illustration is copyright of Greenlight.
Over the years many collectors have asked manufacturers to make Caravans (Trailers) to go with their cars and trucks. A few manufacturers have done so with variable results. In one case a smaller maker of 1:43 models put a lot of effort into making some classic Caravans only to see cheap models of exactly the same subjects flooding out of China in various scales and even being adopted into some German diecast ranges. The suspicion was that the UK made models had been copied and that is unfair on the original maker. At one point a series of resin Caravans was proposed to cover popular UK brands such as Sprite but this did not “take-off”.
The success of the Caravans already issued in the Greenlight Hitch and Tow series like the Shasta Airflyte and Airstream Bambi no doubt encouraged them to make a new series of Caravans without any towing vehicle called Hitched Homes. Greenlight make Caravans in 1:24 but make more in 1:64 scale. Sadly there appears to be no prospect that they will be made in 1:43 scale too. In this article we look at the three caravans on the top row in the Hitched Homes publicity illustration above. All of which are new castings not seen in the Hitch and Tow range so far.
1958 Catolac DeVille Travel Trailer
British Caravaners in the 1950s would have been shocked by the bright colours of this caravan. UK Caravans were generally painted in subdued colour schemes and awning would have been of green or brown canvas and not like an awning at an Ice Cream parlour.
DeVille trailers were manufactured by Catolac Corporation of California. and they made trailers from 1927 to 1970. The company slogan was “It’s not how many you make, But how well you make them” – That’s the Catolac way”.
The model reproduced by Greenlight is was a compact trailer, for the US, with all the usual features though it had no toilet fitted. The woodwork in the interior was of very good quality, birch panelling whilst the outside was made from 1 inch thick Mesa Deluxe sheets.
Whilst the windows are all painted on and whilst there is no interior the caravan does have an awning that clips into the main body and a blind for the front window to protect it when travelling and from the sun. The usual screw is supplied to fit to the front of the trailer to allow it to stand or to be lifted for towing. These are now supplied as a separate part to fit yourself and great care needs to be taken when opening pack as they are prone to dropping out.
1959 Siesta Travel Trailer
No awning supplied with this one and it looks a little plainer with only the red detailing and the fact it has a large fridge in it making it look different to European caravans of a similar age. No fold down flap to cover the front window on this one.
Sadly I cannot find any history of the makers of this caravan but from the number of pictures of renovations it must have been a popular one in its day.
1964 Winnebago 216 Travel Trailer
The name Winnebago to the British mind is synonymous with the huge RV vehicles the size of a British Luxury Coach but the company was only formed in 1959 and the first self powered RV was not launched until 1966.
Winnebago is the name of a native American tribe, and Forest City where Winnebago started is in Winnebago County, Iowa. John K Hanson a local funeral home manager liked camping and managed to convince Californian supplier Modernistic Industries, to open a manufacturing facility near the banks of the Winnebago River. Unfortunately things didn’t prosper and in 1959 when Modernistic’s prospects were slim a group of local businessmen, led by Hanson, bought out the operation. He changed the company name to Winnebago Industries in 1960 and established the manufacture of dedicated components right down to furniture designed and built especially for the trailers. One Winnebago innovation was the “Thermo-Panel,” with insulating foam between an aluminum exterior sheet and inner paneling. It kept weight down and made the vehicle more like a home away from home.
The Greenlight model has the “W” logo nicely printed to the side, rear and front. Again the windows are printed black and there is no interior. The movable blind at the front was apparently an extra cost optional extra.
The remaining caravans in this release include a current Winnebago trailer which is new casting and one that will appeal to collectors of more modern US vehicles. The Shasta Airflyte that has already been seen in several colours in the Hitch and Tow series and the Airstream Bambi has also been seen in that series several times previously. Though the Bambi in the series does come with a new awning not seen before.
Greenlight are to be congratulated on these models which though basic in some ways do look good when hitched to a period US car.
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