Blog : When did you last see an… Austin 1800 Caravan?

Thanks to my mate Alex Scott in New Zealand, I learned something new today. Yes, fresh from the continent that brought you the Morris Nomad, Leyland P76 and BMC 1800 Ute, comes this wonderful homebrew that really would suit adventurous types with a severe case of wanderlust.

It’s clearly a mash-up of Austin 1800 and coachbuilt camper – and it looks wonderful, no matter how much of a disaster it would be to drive. The vehicle is for sale on New Zealand’s equivalent of AutoTrader, called TradeMe, and the seller has managed to piece together some of the story, even if he’s not in full possession of all the facts.

Apparently, it was built in 1982, and two Austin 1800s were used for the basis of the project. It’s for sale in need of some tender loving care, after the current owner used it for five years. He even spent his wedding night in it, which to me says that this is one adventurous couple – how many of us would love to have a partner quite so understanding?

Anyway, the ad went on to say that the car engine and running gear are spot on, the interior looks tidy and in one piece, and it even comes with a three-phase fridge, Calor gas cooker, and chemical toilet (no sniggering at the back).

It’s going to take quite a while to get where you’re going, with a maximum speed of 50mph, and a realistic cruising speed of 45. Would that cut the mustard in the UK? Probably not… Unless it was holding up a Top Gear caper of some description – then we’d love it. Price is $7000, which converts to around £3600. Worth every penny.

I could see myself cruising the South Island in this. My life would be complete.

Click for TradeMe advert (now removed)

Keith Adams


  1. Good God. Someone must have been on some serious wacky-baccy to come up with that!
    About the only way to get anywhere near adequate performance on this monstrosity is the 2200 engine – or better yet put a MGB crossflow head into the 1800 with the supercharger kit from Moss bolted on. 150-160hp would be about right.
    I’d hate to take this up a steep driveway with the 85hp engine let alone something like Porlock Hill. Although it’s possible, depending what the back end is made of that it’s actually lighter than the normal car.
    The Kobyashi Maru of car design.

    • Do a search on “austin 1800 campervan”. It’s not a pretty sight. It appears you could have a bespoke version or you could have a slide & lock type that went on the back of a 1800 ute (similar to the idea of putting one into a Toyota pickup or one of those tiny Citroën or Honda? vans (better suited to pervy hobbit fanciers I suspect).
      Someone must have been licking a few cane toads to think this could be a good idea – especially in a country the size of Australia which has some fairly impressive hills – not to mention the outback. Since even a normal landcrab can just about manage 26mpg combined on a 10.5 UK gallon tank – I hate to think what a landcrab camper would do.

  2. The windscreen looks like it might have come off a Bedford CF, used in the same fashion as it was for some ice cream vans.

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