Small Car and Caravan

Submitted: Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 16:38
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Hi all,
This is probably not the best forum for this question but here goes anyway. My parents were amongst some of the earliest grey nomads but due to Dads worsening Parkinson’s disease sold up their 4x4 and caravan a couple of years ago. The camping itch however is still there and recently Dad has convinced Mum to buy a small van so they can get away again. The problem is that Mum will have to do most of the work with the van and their car is only a Toyota Corolla. So has anybody had experience with small cars and caravans (apart from being caught behind them of course) and do you have any recommendations. At present they are looking at secondhand A-Vans. Thanks Wayne
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Reply By: flappa - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 16:51

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 16:51
Something like the Jayco Expanda might work.

They are Poptop , and are only 12ft to tow. The Bed pops out and adds another 4ft 6 (from memory).

They weigh just over 1000kg Tare.

It would be suitable for a Corolla I'm sure
AnswerID: 151837

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 17:05

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 17:05
Hi Wayne,

I know exactly where you're coming from. My parents were in the same position after dad suffered a critical illness about 5 years ago. They'd been travelling Oz and living almost full time in their Landcruiser and caravan for nearly 15 years. Mum couldn't handle the van and the LC just barely so they had to go. Dad had a long but full recovery and after a couple of years, the old travel itch bit hard again. Upshot of the hole thing is that they now have an oldish Mitsubishi Magna with which they tow a 12ft caravan. It's not flash but it does them for short trips and gets them out there. The Magna is auto and easy for mum and she now shares the driving with dad even when towing the CV. Of course they stick to the hard top and take it pretty easy.

They use a hitching aid (can't recall what its called but I'm sure someone here will) that enables them to hook up the van easily so they don't have to manhandle it onto the towball. Also, most places they go to someone usually offers them a hand which they have learned to accept even if they don't really need it. Some CVP's will even put your caravan on your site for you if you ask and help hook up when you leave (a reflection of the number of elderly travellers hitting the road I guess). One thing they don't have which I think would be good is one of those self-propelled jockey wheels that have a lever to winch/steer the van/boat into place. We bought one for our CT after my hubby had back surgery several years ago. He doesn't need it now but it was handy at the time although they really only works well on hard surfaces as they tend to slip a bit in sand etc.

Another tip is that being such a small van, most of the storage space is under the rear bed/lounge which they found very difficult to access as neither are particularly agile now. They overcame this problem by having an outside access hatch put in by a CV repair place. Cost a few hundred $'s but worth its weight in gold they reckon.

Good luck to your parents. I reckon you'll have to drag me off the trail kicking and screaming at some ripe old age so I hope they can sort something out.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 151840

Reply By: Rob.45 - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 18:11

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 18:11

if your parents need a small van try driftaway in geelong (
i have just bought a small pop top van from them. it only weighs in at 590kgs so no trouble for corolla to tow.just towed mine back geelong to brisbane with a citroen berlingo without any problems
AnswerID: 151864

Reply By: Member - Trevor R (QLD) - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 21:23

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 21:23

If they want second hand, I would reccomend a Viscount Nipper. At 10 ft long and 590kg tare they are a breeze to tow. It is however a poptop so if this is a problem then forget the rest of what I have to say. I did a lot of haevily laden trips in mine without drama, eventually forcing the sides of the van to come away from the floor through overloading. Other than this I would have still had it today. We had one with an east west double bed accross the front of the van, but this would be a PITA for not so flexible people to make the bed (we were in our 20's at the time and it was bad enough then). Cold nights were also bad with this layout as one of us (usually me) had to sleep against the front window brrrrrr. So with this in mind I would not reccomend similar layouts in any van they choose.

Good luck in the search, Trevor.
AnswerID: 151923

Reply By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 22:06

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 22:06
Just rang a mate who's missus has a 1990 Corolla sedan... According to the users manual, the towing limits are as follows:

Braked: 850kg

Unbraked: 400kg

Towball download: 50kg.

Not sure which model you are talking about, the towing capabilities may have increased alongside technology.
AnswerID: 151950

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