The History of Crusader Caravans

During the 1960’s, several New Zealand caravan manufacturers attempted to export their vans into Australia…but very few succeeded. With the freight cost, an already slim profit margin and stiff competition from already established Australian caravan brands, it simply wasn’t a good idea.

One NZ manufacturer that defied the odds was Munro, with their Crusader vans. This was only one of their brands, but for whatever reason, the Crusader brand was the one that sold well in Australia.

Founded in 1948 by the Munro brothers in Otorohanga, New Zealand, Munro originally produced caravans, and then motorhomes from the 1970’s onwards.

Car dealership Anthony Motors Australia was formed in 1968. They had an important job – to import Crusader caravans from NZ and distribute them to customers around Australia via a dealer network. A range of Crusader models have been popular in the country ever since. Previously located on Nepean Highway in Highett, Melbourne, the Anthony Motors site is now a KFC outlet!

The 70’s proved to be a busy time for the Munro group, with a Crusader factory opening in Wangaratta, Victoria. A variety of Crusaders were manufactured and sold in Australia at this time, ranging from the 2.4 metre long Pixie to the 8.5 metre motorhome. To give you an idea of prices - in April 1972, the motorhome was selling for $1,910. Imagine that today! We’ll take five, thanks!

The original Crusaders were recognisable by their fibreglass roof, front and rear, aluminium side walls and spacious interiors. They were also well known for their large windows, special suspension and powerful hydraulic disc brakes. These vans looked very different to most other caravan brands on the road back then – definitely a factor as to why they were so successful!

In 1972, the company was absorbed into the UK group Caravans International Munro (or CI Munro), and much later – in 1995 – CI Munro was bought by Tourism Holdings (thl). 2007 saw the New Zealand-based factory relocated to a much larger one in Hamilton (NZ) to cope with the increasing demand for their Maui and Britz caravan rental fleets.

Although there is not a whole lot of information on what happened to the Munro brothers, or indeed the ins and outs of their company and its current standing, one thing we know for sure is that Crusader enthusiasts are keeping the Munro brothers’ dream alive all around Australia today. See if you can spot one on your next trip!