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1970s Millard retro caravan renovation

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Becoming a Leader

A classic 70s Millard caravan was stylishly renovated with a distinctive Penguin Classics book theme.



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The project


Renovated an old 70s Millard caravan from scratch with a Penguin Classics book theme. Hard work, but well worth the results. I've renovated four other caravans with a mate, but this is the first one I've done on my own. I love doing vans because it involves so many different skills and design styles in such a small space – bedroom, kitchen, living area, and exterior, all in eight square metres.


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I had to completely gut this van. The only thing that stayed was the single bunk and cupboard at one end, but even that needed repairing and new doors. It was essentially just a shell. Most vans are pretty robust, so you can remove a lot of it. I tend to leave all the upper locker cupboards as I don't want to damage the roof and cause leaks, but anything lower down can come out. You get a feel for what is flimsy and not supporting anything and what is integral to the structure.


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This van is over 40 years old, and there were a few dents on the outside of it. I filled a couple, but left some. I painted with full gloss enamel paint, and used a roller rather than painting with a spray gun. I also added turps and Penetrol to the mix so that it settled and gave a sprayed look. I didn't add any trims to the windows, just sanded them well and sprayed with silver paint, which brought them up really nicely.


Since I've renovated a number of caravans, I've seen that the budget can vary depending on the condition – the very minimum I've spent is $900 for a van that just needed a bit of a lift. But I've spent $5000 on some vans, although that would include a new fridge, cooker, windows, cushions and curtains.


Before and after


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How to renovate a caravan


Find step-by-step instructions for renovating your own caravan in Rob's three-part guide that includes choosing the right van to buy, repairing, painting and styling.





Other caravan renovation projects


Before tackling this solo renovation, Rob updated a few caravans with a mate and shared their unique styling with the Workshop community.


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