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a touring van with high standards
A Caravan road and site test new series number fifteen
The Caravan November 1951
MOST experienced caravanners will readily agree that, provided the buyer does not insist on a built-in toilet room, there is nothing to equal the conventional centre kitchen four berth layout for a family holiday van.
The Car Cruiser Clubman Major sets out to offer this type of van in a form which will appeal to the Clubman, and to less sociable caravanners having similar above average standards. That is, to the caravanner who regards his caravanning as the yachtsman regards sailing—not only a means to enjoyable recreation, but a thing of pride and interest in itself, on which a certain amount of money that might otherwise go on other hobbies, will be spent.
Most vans with this layout are about 14ft. or 14ft. 6in. long and priced around £350-£450. The Clubman is 15ft. 5in. (still small enough for tricky touring grounds like Cornwall) and is priced at £525. The extra length, coupled with large bay windows at both ends, and light toned fabric covered walls, gives an exceptional sense of space and ease inside, while the price permits, not elaboration (for simplicity is the aim of the van) but a standard of workmanship and finish to arouse true pride of ownership.
If you like this type of van, then you will like the Clubman Major very much. It has style, the distinction that comes front skilled work on the drawing board. It is a whole design, not an assembly of good components. It looks right and feels right. The exterior shape is characteristic of Car Cruisers, but lower than most recent Car Cruisers. The windows are also low, and with towing cars fairly high off the ground, c.g. the Standard Vanguard, there should be a view through.
The chassis is unusually well-braced. There are no fewer than 10 transverse members, six full width and one member in front of the wheels is 3in. channel section—just right for putting a jack under to change a wheel.
The hold shape of the roof is deceptive. If gives the van the appearance of being quite streamlined, and does in fact minimise the baffle effect of a caravan following a smaller car, yet the minimum headroom is 6ft. 4in.
All four members of the party have a one-piece mattress, a relief to those tired of cracks in beds made up of many sections. The large seat lockers are all easy to get at, and you do not have to lift the weight of the mattress. Next to. the wardrobe is a small chest of drawers (one per person) with Formica top and a mirror on the wall, so that it is convenient as a dressing table or for shaving. There is ample shelf space and hooks on which to place or hang clothing as you undress at night.
The kitchen is one of the most workable we have used. It comprises three units with shallow roof lockers over, the whole forming what the makers call a modern Welsh dresser. In the middle of the range is a Bottogas griller hotplate, with ventilated cupboard below. To the left is a plastic sink of well chosen dimensions, with a detachable drainer clipping on its edge. Beneath this is the gas cylinder cupboard, the drainer stowing on the inside of the cupboard door. To the cook’s right is a flat working space 18 by 15in. With another ventilated cupboard below.
All three units are covered by a veneered lid, to the underside of which is attached a folding rack for the stove. The lining to the hotplate recess, the working top, and the drainer are all stove enamelled in a pleasing finish of the colour of oxidised silver, mottled. The single beds come at the rear end, and have padded back rests detachable for cleaning. The proportions of seats and table are such that it is easy to sit down without contortions, and to stand before getting out.
Ventilation has been given careful attention. There is a frameless Perspex skylight in the roof, and in each side wall is a fixed vent, while fresh air is admitted through a hole beneath the double bed, but so ducted and baffled that damp should not reach the bedding nor draughts be felt in the van. Finally there is a new kitchen ventilator, of exclusive Car Cruiser design, called the Brolly. It has an umbrella shaped top, and four positions, and can be kept open in heavy rain.
For our test we collected the van from the Hayes works, noting the neat sidelights, and the usual Car Cruiser coupling, which looks complicated at first but is strong and less likely than some others to be left unlocked through forgetfulness. The towing height is about 16in., convenient for most cars.

Towing off through the winding roads of the Chilterns the van and the Wolseley 6-80 quickly got used to each other, and in spite of the absence of our near side mirror (not yet replaced after a breakage on the Continent) we found it possible to steer to a nicety through narrow gaps with the van following perfectly steadily. No private roads or tracks were available on this run for high speed tests, but from the total absence of anxiety when towing some hundreds of yards on a flat road at 30 m.p.h. with the hands off the steer ing wheel, it is clear that the tourist using a firm car will be able to make long runs with all the normal motoring enjoyment.
Regard for the family passengers, not to mention the dog, prevented any all-out crash stops. In any case such tests are fairly brutal to the car and tyres, and with many trailers not very safe. However, some stops from 30 m.p.h. a little short of maximum fierceness yielded readings around 65 per cent on a decelerometer. This perhaps means little to most readers, so we will add that the passengers shot off their seats and the dog went flying. Pass the Girling brakes. The outfit stopped perfectly in line.
The good towing of the van was the more noteworthy since the tyre pressures were a moderate 351bs./sq. in.

The nose weight of the Clubman Major felt on the heavy side for comfortable coupling-up, but it did not seem to trouble the car suspension, thanks to almost total absence of pitch ing, due to a low centre of gravity. The jockey wheel worked well and on tow its ground clearance proved adequate.
In use for a weekend, the van quickly won the enthusiasm of the testers. The well lit, roomy interior, with good views out in all directions, is delightful. You can lounge and spread your legs, or wander from one end to the other without interfering with cooking. The partition does not extend to the roof, but the good roof line justifies this in a holiday van. Experience is revealed in the catches for the drawers and the way the table can be clipped up to the ceiling to facilitate access to the single bed lockers.
Height has been saved by the use of a sunk floor, but we found no tendency to trip over the risers, perhaps because the floor between chassis and wall continues at the higher level, so that the eye takes in instantly the change in level.
The hotplate worked admirably, as did the drainer. The cylinder is very accessible. A friend suggested that the working space should be next the sink, for dirty crockery, but that might risk splashing fat from cooker on to the single bed, and we prefer the present arrangement. The little supper tabic illustrated is something of a makeshift but satisfactory except to parents who want to make a full meal after the children have gone to bed. The Form ica table top makes it unnecessary to use a tablecloth, and is also heat-resisting. There is a useful locker for shoes or whatnot under the rear window; but it does not prevent six people from sitting at table.
Criticisms are confined to small things. There is nowhere to hang wet coats, and nowhere to keep water cans steady on tow, though on the site there is a handy recess next the kitchen. The lights were a little dull and possibly needed blowing out. The strap to hold the table up to the ceiling is unnecessar ily obtrusive. The stable type door rattled a bit in spite of the very nice roller mortice lock. It would hardly be worthwhile to mention these things, Which apply to a great many vans, except that the high standard of the van leads the critic to “raise his sights”.
There is not a very large demand for a holiday and rally van at this price, but those who want it probably would not want it to be too common. Undoubted ly the Clubman Major will be prized by its owners and will enhance its maker’s reputation.
Price : £525 including gas cylinder.
Weight ex-works t 19½ cwt., including gas cylinder.
Nose weight : 1 cwt. 23 lbs.
Dimensions : Body length, 14ft. 9in.; including bay windows, 15ft. 5in.; shipping length, 17ft. 6in. Overall width 6ft. 7½in. Overall height (estimated) 7ft. 11in. Maximum headroom 6ft. 8in., minimum 6ft. 4in. Interior length 14ft. 5½in.; interior width 6ft. 3fin.; gangway at centre 4ft. 5½ins. Floor height 17½in.
Undergear (sketch not to scale : A - channel steel 3 x 2 x ¼in.; B - angle steel I½ x I½ x -3/16in.; C - 3 x 2 x ¼in. reinforced at point of max. stress. Half elliptic springs 36 x 2 x ⅜ in. underslung.
Bramber axle, straight, round section, 1 ¾ in. Girling 8in. brakes with compensator. Michelin 5.75-16 tyres. Retractable jockey wheel. Car Cruiser coupling and brace operated legs.
Body Construction : Hardwood framing. Outside panelling, walls and roof, tempered Masonite, sealed inside faces. Roof covered canvas, painted aluminium. Fibreglass insulation. Inside panelling hardboard covered leathercloth. Floor plywood, painted. Steel wheel arches, not insulated. Body well bolted to outriggers. End bay windows 36in. Plus two 8in. sections. Side windows two 36in.,
two 30in. All 18in. deep, polished aluminium frames, rounded bottom corners. Stable door,
unglazed, 20in. Frameless Perspex skylight 12½in. square, with friction stay. Two fixed vents in walls, intake vent in floor, Brolly vent for kitchen.
Equipment : Settee double bed 6ft. 3in. x 4ft. and two singles 6ft. x 2ft. Rex spring mattresses. Hook-on table 48 x 23in. Wardrobe 24in. wide, 16½in. deep. Chest four drawers 11 ¾ in. Centre kitchen. Bottogas griller hotplate. Plastic sink 15 x 11 x 4½in., detachable drainer. Gas cylinder cupboard, two ventilated food cupboards, five roof lockers, one floor locker, full size bed lookers.
Four long shelves. Clip-on supper table 18 x 16in. Formica table tops. Mirror 12 x 18in. Two gas lights. Curtains to windows (overlapped) and skylight. Linoleum.

Layout : A settee double bed ; B roof shelves; C sink over gas locker; D hotplate; E working top over cupboard ; F single beds ; G hook-on table ; H floor locker; I wall lockers; J wardrobe ; K chest of drawers.
Towing Car for test s Wolseley 6-80, 1950, weight including passengers 31 cwt. Makers t 0. G. Lywood Ltd., North Hyde Road, Hayes, Middlesex.

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