Craig & Paula’s 1955 Packard/Oxford combo

If you’re a fan of retro caravans and classic cars, you’ll love Don & Marilyn Jessen’s latest book, Classic Car and Caravan Combos Downunder. In this extract, we take a look at Craig & Paula’s 1955 Packard/Oxford combo.

This combo looks stunning with the colour-matched Packard and Oxford caravan. The Packard is as immaculate as the Oxford, which won best caravan at the 2016 Beach Hop.


How did Craig and Paula get into a car and caravan combo? Well, the story began when they bought the caravan from an owner in Whangarei in 2012.

It had obviously been done up and Paula and Craig thought it looked much more interesting than any modern caravan. In fact, it was the first caravan to which Mike Wells at Retro Custom Caravans gave his retro custom caravan treatment. 


The car arrived a few years later, when Paula went for her regular Sunday lunchtime sushi pick-up, leaving Craig in charge of their motel. Half an hour after she’d left, she phoned Craig and told him she’d bought him a car to tow the caravan with.

I am sure Craig was blown away by the Packard. I suspect Paula scored 20 out of 10 for that purchase! Packard made beautiful cars. Craig and Paula’s 1955 Packard 400 is a particularly nice example.


In American folklore, these cars are right up there with Cadillacs, and in our experience they are more comfortable and handle better than the Chevrolets and Fords of the same era. 

They run a torsion-bar suspension system that makes the ride superb. The powerplant is an overhead valve Packard 350-cubic-inch V8 developing 275 horsepower.


These cars are easily capable of keeping up with today’s traffic. The braking system has power-assisted drum brakes and the power steering is standard. This model also has electric windows and seats.

The interior dashboards of the 1955/56 Packards are a work of art. Finished in a polished, stippled aluminium, they just look spectacular. Craig and Paula’s car is dressed in white fluted vinyl upholstery with red vinyl inserts and a red hood lining.


The matching seats and hood linings are a Packard hallmark. The effect is just stunning.
Oxford caravans were originally built in Levin by Alton Harrison, who previously worked at Classic Caravans.

Oxford was taken over by NZ Motorcorp in 1972 and was later sold to CI Munro in Otorohanga. This early Oxford, affectionately named Memphis Belle, looks great from the outside.

Craig_and_Paula_6.jpgMike Wells from Retro Custom Caravans has the ability to turn the outside of a 1970s caravan from ordinary to extraordinary, and so it is with this van.

A reverse paint job, different body streamline, extra chrome, wheel spats, whitewalls and retro wheel trims completely changed the look of this caravan. 

Craig and Paula dressed the inside of the caravan in a rock ’n’ roll, American diner theme.The furniture is painted in white and red automotive high-gloss finish and looks spectacular.


Craig and Paula dressed the inside of the caravan in a rock ’n’ roll, American diner theme. The furniture is painted in white and red automotive high-gloss finish and looks spectacular.

The benchtop is red, the ceiling white and the floor is adorned with black and white chequerboard vinyl. The squabs, in red and white vinyl, set the caravan off.

Retro accessories include a diner-style window shelf, Betty Boop characters and Marilyn Monroe cushions and blanket. When the Oxford is coupled with the Packard, the pair makes for a rig with instant eye appeal.

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