BLOG: SUNLINER RETRO CARAVANS
Susan and Keith Hall were surprised to learn that Australia used to have the largest fibreglass production line in the southern hemisphere, and it was used to build caravans.
Here is another caravan trivia question for you: which Australian town had the largest fibreglass production facility in the southern hemisphere in the late 1950s and on into the 1960s?
While you are thinking about that, we’ll give you some background and clues, so you may be able to work out the answer for yourself. To start, you may have thought that the biggest fibreglass production plant would have been making surfboards, or canoes and yachts, what with fibreglass technology revolutionising boat construction from the early 1960s. But in fact it was making caravans – or to be more specific, Sunliner caravans.
The fibreglass shell for these egg-shaped caravans was made in a large mould. Even the interiors of the early models were made entirely of fibreglass, including all the cupboards and the door and insect screen. Yet despite the innovative technology used to build Sunliners, the interior decor is quaintly retro with the cupboard doors painted in five different pastel colours.
Sunliners, with their rust-proofed tubular steel frame have proven to be very durable, and you will still find plenty of them in the vintage caravan community. They are also very light, so they’re easily towed by classic cars. They were even towed around by Volkswagen Beetles in the 1960s.
But where was the factory which made these innovative caravans? You might guess that they were built in Sydney or Melbourne, or any other capital city for that matter. In fact, they were built by Mid North Coast Moulded Products in New South Wales, in the small seaside town of Forster. The factory opened in March 1958, producing two caravans a week until production increased to two caravans a day. The Sunliner caravan business folded in 1967.
YOUR SAY: Have you stumbled across any historic caravan manufacturing locations during your travels? Do you ever see any Sunliners or other nice retro vans during your travels?
Susan and Keith Hall are regular contributors to Caravan World magazine. Check out their latest blog entries at http://somewhere42.wordpress.com/.