Okay, the title is a little dramatic, but I was (and still am) a little overwhelmed. The first steps I took after getting the camper home were to research the brand (Cheltenham Caravans), find out where the best sources of information would be as I began my restoration/remodel journey, and determine what model caravan I had.
I began my research project as anyone in the 21st century would, by Googling “Cheltenham Caravans,” which produced far fewer results than I anticipated. Luckily, a book popped up on Amazon that seemed promising, so I ordered a copy of Cheltenham Caravans: An Illustrated History written by Jacqui McCarthy.
This book has been my go-to resource for leaning about the Cheltenham Caravan company and the caravans themselves. It’s clear the Jacqui put a great amount of effort into aggregating information that otherwise may have been lost to time.
Through this book I was able to determine the model of my camper (which I’ll get to later) and learn a lot of valuable background information on how Cheltenham caravans were built.
The Owners’ Club
One of the best things I learned from the book was that a Cheltenham Caravan Owners’ Club was initiated in 1950 and still exists today. In fact, members are celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. I promptly found enough information about the club online to reach out and become a member. As a result, a couple times a year I receive a package in the mail with the bi-annual newsletter and the latest information on parts and rallies. According to Secretary John Marsland, I am one of only two members in North America.
John and fellow member Alasdair Robb have been very valuable resources. Having never restored/remodeled a camper before, and having never been to the UK, there are more than a few things about my Puku that are unfamiliar to me.
Alasdair has a wealth of knowledge about Cheltenham parts, and has a collection of spares available on the Owners’ Club website. He’s offered me recommendations about the suspension system, braking system, and axel, and I was able to purchase a replacement moor-light (skylight) from him back in 2018.
Back to the 70th anniversary celebration. Unfortunately the rally planned for the last week of May has been postponed due to COVID-19. On the bright side though, I’m hoping I’ll be able justify the trip across the pond next year to show off pictures of my camper and take part in the fun!
The Model: Puku 4
The third topic I found myself researching was the model of my camper. I’ll start by saying that based on the Craigslist ad I thought I had purchased a 1964 Cheltenham Sable. I’d discovered from my earlier research that the Sable was the most popular model, so I didn’t see any reason to question the ad. As I began to take measurements and lay out the floor plan on paper however, things just didn’t line up.
My first clue should have been the vanity license plate I found inside with “PUKU 4” on it, but I naively assumed a previous owner had simply been collecting Cheltenham-related memorabilia.
After consulting the Cheltenham Caravans: An Illustrated History, I discovered that the Puku 4 floor plan matched my measurements perfectly. The Puku 4 was released after the Sable for folks who wanted a bit more room inside, and included two extra beds/berths.
Being one of the rarer models, I’ve had a hard time finding a lot of information, but I do have the floor plan diagram, and another former Puku 4 owner was nice enough to share photos of his 1963 completely restored camper for reference.
Interior photos credited to Cameron Burns.