When we started Van Go Collections, I did A LOT of research on caravans. With so many designs and models around, it was a case of “Where to start?!” As a Graphic Designer, vintage caravans won over the new styles, as they have so much more character (but so many less mod cons!). With soft curves and interesting shapes, they are a lot more fun to illustrate, over the square boxes of the new designs (mind you, I do like the idea of my own bathroom on board!)
To start, of course, we needed a logo and my research led me to these images. The 1970 Thomson Mini Glen became my first love. It was meant to be - Firstly I was born in 1970 and I have Scottish heritage! From a design perspective, it was the perfect shape for a logo because it was symmetrical and therefore, balanced. The fact that it was so cute was a bonus!
So many vintage vans have made a resurgence over the past 10 years or so, and I thought it was about time I shared why so many of these vans have found their way into my heart and into our designs.
History of Thomson Caravans
Scotland’s only mass producer of touring caravans, Thomson was one of the most popular brands in the UK, and in their heyday, their caravans were also being exported to nine countries. Thomson Caravans goes back to 1908, when Daniel Thomson, a carpenter, began repairing and building caravans for showmen behind an old mill in the Scottish village of Carron.
Daniel was always looking at ways of producing stylish caravans with streamlined profiles, and began experimenting with shapes (with varying degrees of success!). During the 1920’s, Thomson built bodies on model T Fords for local businesses and then designed and built their first motorhome. As the vehicles proved to be slow and cumbersome, he decided to concentrate on trailer caravans instead.
Around 1930, the Thomson 'Egg & I' prototype was built often described as an early teardrop type of caravan. David Thomson, Daniel's son, took models of these caravans to the Royal Technical College in Glasgow to test the designs in a wind tunnel, the first caravan designer to do so.
During WW11, the production of caravans ceased and Thomson turned to constructing ambulances, trailers and ammunition boxes.
In the late 1940’s production stepped up again, and by the early 1950’s, more new models were designed to help meet the increasing demand for caravans. The 1960’s brought a boom in caravan travel and Thomson’s reputation for quality at the right price began to pay off.
However, by the late 1970’s, sales started dropping and the company started to suffer, and in 1982, Thomson caravan production sadly came to a halt.
In recent times, Thomson caravans have experienced a resurgence amongst caravan enthusiasts, partly due to The Thomson Owners Club, a club holding rallies and social events for caravanners.
The Thomson Mini Glen
Although there were many models built along the way, it is the Mini Glen produced in 1970 that captured my heart. Designed for small cars, it was a 2.5 metre two-berth model, comprising a rear-end double dinette (doubling as a bed), front-end kitchen, wardrobe, chest of drawers and toilet room. Thomson also took the bold step of making the mattress cover and curtains out of a colourful tartan cloth. All this for a mere 265 Pounds!
Years later, this model would become an iconic classic, and we can see why…
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