Last month’s magazine was its 60th birthday, a fact we did not realise until Geoff Courtis from Natal Caravans and Marine called to say, “Hey, it’s your 60th!” Caravan and Outdoor Life shares the same birth year as Natal Caravans and Marine making them – and us – the oldest in the industry, still owned by the same families.
Both companies are run by third-generation Courtises and Castles, and this issue marks the 696th issue we have published. No other media company can beat us on experience or industry knowledge. Today we reach no fewer than 121 040 people through our print, digital, and social media. For some perspective, in February 1960, when the first issue went on sale South Africa was a Union – a self-governing dominion of the British Empire and not a republic.
Looking back on that first issue it consisted of 34 pages, had a cover price of two schillings, and the first caravan test, or ‘Consideration’ as it was called in those days, was a caravan called the ASA de Luxe, built by ASA Timber Industries in the Cape. Reading this Consideration brought home the fact that as much as present new innovations in caravans and motorhomes are introduced, it has in many cases been done before. Take the Asa for instance, in 1960 it had a fibreglass roof, plywood inner and outer walls,16-inch tyres, a body length of 4.9m, and weighed in at only 1 133kg.
Advertising revenue is the lifeblood of any magazine and in that issue, Ford had two adverts, one for the Ford Taunus from Germany and the other a Ford Anglia, with their message claiming it was the world’s most exciting light car and here’s why… it had no less than 2 229 square inches of glass. The first advertiser was Jurgens and they enjoyed some publicity for the Volkswagen-based Auto-Caravan prototype – which many years later became the top-selling Autovilla.
There was also an advert for the Racasan portable toilet, a camping accessory that left me scarred for life, being merely a bucket with a lid and some colouring called Racasan fluid. Not a pretty sight and a great fear that it might fall over with you on it! In those days my dad and the Caravan Club used to visit a number of resorts that did not have the amenities we enjoy so much in today’s resorts.
From me to you, thank you for sharing in our history, to our wonderful friends at Natal Caravans and Marine – once again the only Jurgens CI dealership in Durban and Pinetown – happy birthday!
To my staffers and advertisers who have made it possible to produce this magazine – I couldn’t do it without you guys!
Many, many thanks.