$5,000 caravan

Submitted: Monday, May 04, 2009 at 18:33
ThreadID: 68518 Views:5764 Replies:16 FollowUps:15
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l want to buy a second hand caravan to use a few times a year and travel no more them 200 km's to my destination, Can you get a decent roadworthy caravan for around $5,000 or am l better off saving up and getting one for around $20,000. ALso l drive a 4 cylinder 2003 Toyota Camry ALtise, around what is the weight limit of the caravan l should buy?
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Reply By: Member - Cram (Newcastle NSW) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 18:49

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 18:49
Not sure about tow weights but I am sure someone here will be able to help you with that.

Do you want a full size caravan or a something like a Jayco Camper Trailer??

If you want to hit the road now go for the $5000 option, that will suit your needs and you should be able to find something around the place that will work out okay for you. Particularly if you are only wanting to travel a short distance.
AnswerID: 363202

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:11

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:11
The short answer is yes. The problem will be finding it amongst the great heaps of crap on offer. Could take you a couple of years.

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AnswerID: 363212

Reply By: cranswick - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:13

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:13
l'm looking for a full sized caravan, l probably need one under 1,000 kilos, Theres quite a few caravans from the mid to late 1980's for aound $5,000, are most still roadworthy and in sound condition after all those years? is there a particular model thats good?
AnswerID: 363213

Follow Up By: Member - Axle - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:30

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:30
Millard were the pick of the crop in the late seventies, early eighties, as far as i'm concerned, The 4 Berths were a strong reliable van, and only weighed a ton with a bit of luggage on board. Just keep looking and asking!, surprising what can turn up!.

Cheers Axle.
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Follow Up By: cranswick - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:55

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:55
Thankyou l will check out Millards.
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Follow Up By: Member - ross m (WA) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 23:08

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 23:08
The Viscounts were ok too and they made a lot in the 16ft range
FollowupID: 630895

Reply By: Tenpounder - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:33

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:33
Hi there. We bought 'old' a few years ago, and there's a range of vans including $5000 ones that I wouldn't back away from, as long as you are happy to buy a 'dated' design, like the Millard, Frankiln, Viscount etc. of the early 80's.
I was not aware at all of things like brakes, ATM, towball weight, towbar rating when I started shopping. Also, even if your van has Tare and ATM shown on a plate or whatever (ours is painted on the van side), there's every reason to believe the actual weight has nothing to do with the stated weights.
If the van you buy has electric brakes, you will need to add the cost of a brake controller plus installation to your purchase costs. Also, if your towbar has a light duty rating, that may need to be replaced.
You may need to buy weight distribution stuff, especially with a front wheel drive (it would be a bit inconvenient if the front wheels weren't in contact with the road!).
Tyres are an issue too - ours looked fine, with plenty of tread, but they turned out to be stuffed (they were 6 years old, and the first we knew was a blow out on our first proper trip).
You'll probably find that 14ft is about your size - anything heavier than 1500kg ATM and 100kg on the ball will probably exceed your Camry's limits, though I am not saying I know what the actual figures are for the Camry.
My research said to check for chassis strength (cracks, rust etc.) and signs of serious water damage to the structure (usually plywood, chipboard underneath the skin). Leaky windows can be fixed, but it means a lot of work and a few dollars as well.
So yes, $5 grand may get you a van, but it may also get you a heap of trouble. Same applies to a dearer van though - you still have to be wary.
Hope these comments help
Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 363220

Follow Up By: cranswick - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:51

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:51
Thanks for youe reply, l haven't had a tow bar installed on my car yet, l think the weight limit for a toyota camry is 1,200 kilos, l did'nt know about electric brakes, do the old ones form the 1980's have them? am l better off getting a van with or without electric brakes?
FollowupID: 630847

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:16

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:16
I hope someone else can tell you when electric brakes took over. As far as I know, the old over-ride brakes if fitted were OK, but yo can't retrofit override brakes to an van. Our is an '89 van and has electric brakes which I think are heaps better. But you are only talking short hauls aren't you, so my hint was that an override system would be easier and cheaper, even if not quite as good.
Chris (SA)
FollowupID: 630884

Reply By: Best Off Road - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:45

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:45
How many people do you plan to accomodate?

If it's only two, some of those little, rear door, twelve footers are great.


AnswerID: 363225

Follow Up By: cranswick - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:52

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:52
Its only two people.
FollowupID: 630848

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 20:41

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 20:41

Stay smalll, a 12 footer should do. It will be light enough for your Camry to tug.

A 12 footer should offer you a double (or twin singles) bed/s plus a two seat dinette and a kitchen cooktop/bench/fridge.

Depends on where you live and the type of travelling you intend to do. If you plan to go bush, you'll live outside most of the time, so interior space isn't important. If you're down south and need to spend a lot of time inside in the cold months it will be cramped.

All the Best,


FollowupID: 630857

Reply By: cranswick - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:54

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:54
My main concern with getting a cheap $5,000 van is safety, l don't want to have a road accident.
AnswerID: 363228

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:28

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:28
Some other things matter to me much more in terms of safety than price paid: (a) the weight distribution within the caravan (about 10% on the towball) and (b) load distribution onto the front axle of the Camry (weight distribution hitch/bars etc), as well as (c) the suspension and tyres of the van, and (d) the van brakes.
We've all seen lethal rigs on the road costing a lot more than $5k.
I'd rather spend $4500 on the van and $500 on weight distribution bars, than $5000 on a van without bars!
FollowupID: 630887

Follow Up By: Member - ross m (WA) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 23:09

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 23:09
For safety ,the 1st thing I would do is get a rear wheel drive vehicle
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Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 14:28

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 14:28
Hi there Ross, provided the weight of the van & the ball weight are within the towing vehicles rated towing capacity then what are the safety issues related to towing with a front wheel drive vehicle?

I am assuming that weight distribution equipment would be being used as it should on all vehicles, front or rear wheel drive as well 4x4's. Cheers
FollowupID: 630967

Follow Up By: Member - ross m (WA) - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 17:48

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 17:48
The weight of the van on the towbar lifts both the steering wheels and the drive wheels upwards causing them to lose traction more readily.
Basically FWD vehicles tend to jack knife and go bush more readlily when something goes wrong.
RWD vehicles can still go straight long enough to regain control by being able to power out of a situation.

I know the newer larger FWD cars are better(basically because they are heavier),but you can never beat RWD for towing.
I think the RAC have also issued statements to that effect over the years

Towing capacities leave little room for error and I would never attempt a long tow in anything near max capacity ,especialy in a FWD
FollowupID: 630996

Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 20:29

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 20:29
The purpose of weight distribution equipment is to re-establish the steering, braking & driving geometry of the vehicle. The downward weight of a van on the rear of a vehicle certainly does lift the front wheels upward , FWD, RWD or 4x4, hence the use of WD equipment to correct this situation.

I am just interested in what supporting evidence there is to say that towing with a FWD vehicle is unsafe? Cheers
FollowupID: 631041

Reply By: Roughasguts - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:54

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:54
It's funny how things change around 12 years ago we sold off 6 16 foot Franklins for around 500 bucks each.

Couldn't give them away at the time.

Some had never actually been on the road and 2 had never been slept in. From memory the cost new was around $4200-to 4500 each back in 1976.

They where rarely to never used on-site caravans.
AnswerID: 363229

Reply By: PradOz - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:57

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 19:57
i agree with what others have said. also it will depend on how many beds (berths) you need. if you are only after a van with two single beds plenty of options there. the more beds, the more limitations on whats available. also keep in mind if you get and use an annexe it will increase your available living area. some people dont like annexes, me i wouldnt be without one. i also prefer electric brakes. so your all these things will limit what is available to you, not just price.

there will be a limit to the number of good vans around the $5K mark but dont discount vans in the range from $10K up. best bet is to do plenty of research on whats available and a great way if you have time is to get on ebay regularly and search all available caravans that suit you. you can restrict the search to a dollar range, a particular geographical area (eg 'x' kms from your postcode) and also you can sort the search results in price order from smallest to highest and vice versa, etc etc. why not do a search on caravans up to $5000 to see whats there before looking at the rest. keep in mind that the vans that are on there today and dont sell may come down in price as owners become desperate to sell if already committed to another van. i would not rush in to buy as there are always additional ones coming onto the market all the time. if you can ask people that have a van in the range you are looking at what they like and dislike about their own vans. and finally, what you think is your perfect van now, will probably change after you actually own one for a while and use it as only then will you see what you like and what really annoys you about it
AnswerID: 363231

Reply By: Ozboc - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 21:08

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 21:08
This will give you an idea of what you would get for about 5k

ebay add--- poptop
AnswerID: 363251

Follow Up By: disco driver - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 01:02

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 01:02
If you look around there are a fair number of older vans on the market in your price range. Some are like the one listed above, but there are other poptops and a few full height ones out there as well.
Many are pretty ordinary, some are in fair/good condition and there are a few in good/excellent order.
You just have to keep looking everywhere. Some are advertised on community notice boards in food stores (Coles Woolies etc) and it is worth looking into dealers yards too.
FWIW I found mine at a dealers (1982 Viscount 16ft Grand Tourer, poptop, on road) as a trade in on a newer van. It was a one owner unit, always stored under cover and in excellent condition for it's age.

If you don't like any van, just walk away. There are others out there.

FollowupID: 630902

Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:03

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 22:03
Hi cranswick, we had a 1980 Windsor van which was fantastic, we used it on gravel roads back then through the Pilbara and over the parts of the Great Northern Hi'way before it was all sealed, by opening the front vent on the four seasons vent the van was sealed while travelling and no dust got inside. Even though we went over some horrendous roads, ( looking back with four kids we really did take a risk) through what is now called Karajini National Park, we took short cuts on mining roads etc and had no problems at all, it was a very solid van and if I was in the running for a second hand van that's the one I would be looking for. Having said that my parents had an old Millard which saw them over a lot of Klms but not on rough roads like we use to go.

Just my worth. Good luck with your search. $5000 should get one.

BTW the windsor had electric brakes and was tandem.



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AnswerID: 363260

Reply By: Johnny boy - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 07:11

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 07:11
Hi Cranswick,
A mate of mine loved our van so he decided to try and get into one himself yet he did not want to spend too much, when he did go to yards they would ask more than they were worth (HIS WORDS NOT MINE ) anyway he told me that it was killing him as everywhere he looked there was a van in someones front yard or driveway ...LIGHT BULB MOMENT! so I said well if you notice that they dont move or it looks like there not getting used why dont you approach them so he did and a few said ahh I will use it one day ,but yep one said mate if ya make me the right offer its yours the mrs is sick of us not using it and wants her garden back $3500!! and yes it needed some work but thats stuff that you me and anyone else here would do TYRES ,BEARINGS,NEW PLUG to suit his car but hey when he comes away he still has the same fun we all do :) another option is a camper trailer if weight is a worry but having said that its not like a van ,I dont know what your requirements are but you can buy new for that price I think ?
Good luck.

Regards John.
AnswerID: 363285

Reply By: PradOz - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 13:32

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 13:32
for what its worth, vans in yards are dearer than private just like cars are, but, you can still save at a van yard when buying. there is a van yard (south west sydney) advertising on ebay his vans and they are thousands of dollars cheaper on ebay than what is actually on the price ticket/sign on the vans in his yard. he doesnt have a reserve price on them, just a lower starting price than his yard sale price. so if he is doing that there must be others around oz doing the same thing. also shows how much mark up some of them have and how much bargaining power you have - especially in this current market with the R........ (sorry cant say the R word) effecting some sellers ;))
AnswerID: 363335

Reply By: Member - DOZER- Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 18:08

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 18:08
Start by finding out how much weight your towbar will safely carry, bith towball weight and max load....camry has no subframe but uses monocoque (spelling) design...you may find 960kg load limit....anyway, the car would top the scapes at 12-1300kg, so it will be able to pull up to 2000kg using the 1.5 gvm old rule of thumb....i would stay with the pop up design or a small 12 footy.
Some of the newer designs fold out and the bed rolls out under the wall...they are great jobs, as they are compact to tow and large to live in...but...they are not easy to pack up especially in the wind and /or rain....early starts before due can burn off are harder too. Whichever way you go, buy a reece ride levelling hitch.
b4 you bag me out, walk a mile in my shoes, then your a mile away and have my shoes :)

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AnswerID: 363380

Reply By: kend88 - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 18:29

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 18:29
I know you said you wanted a full van when someone suggested a camper trailer, but for $5000 you should get much beter value from a camper van, (wind up van) than a caravan.
Much more internal space than a 12 ft van (which would probably be the limit of your car), as the ends fold out. Much lighter than a full caravan or pop top. Probably better fitted out too as it should be much newer.Friend of mine has had a jayco Swan ( I think) for many years and tows it with a 4 cyl. I think it weighs in at around 800kg. He says it takes him a bit longer than a caravan to set up/pack up but if you are only going to use it a few times a year that shouldn't matter too much. He has been around Oz twice with it.
AnswerID: 363384

Reply By: wigger - Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 21:13

Tuesday, May 05, 2009 at 21:13
Whereabouts are you?
I was over at Coraki today, (Northern new south Wales) and saw an older Millard in someones yard and asked how much. Said $2200. Has been garaged (except for the last four months) for 8 years by elderly couple at Evans Head who are past caravanning. Is a 15' and i tried to find the serial # by looking for a makers plate on the A frame but can't see anything. Could be very early 80's and has got a working 3 way fridge. Inside is a bit tired but then the price isn't big.
If you're interested I could get some photos and email. Have a contact who would charge $60 to tow it to Sydney for you but he does it when it suits him so you might have to wait a few weeks.
AnswerID: 363411

Follow Up By: Johnny boy - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 06:52

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 06:52
Hey wigger,all it needs is a big red bow wrapt around it ,mate that sounds perfect for cranswick and if he lives in SYD hes laughing LOL! good on ya wigs!

FollowupID: 631097

Follow Up By: wigger - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:50

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 10:50
Johhny Boy,
just found big fly in ointment. It is not registered and i would have thought that going through the blue slip rego process for a van would be nightmare. Anyway it's too big for a camry.
FollowupID: 631130

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