Tuesday, 02 June 2020


Two new books released by local authors

Whitianga residents Don and Marilyn Jessen are no strangers to the world of publishing. Between them they have written and provided the photographs for several best-selling books, including “Vintage and Retro Caravans Downunder,” “Vintage Boats,” “Vintage and Iconic Aircraft,” “Retro Caravans” and “Her Space.”

All Don and Marilyn’s books are beautifully presented from front to back cover. The photographs in the books are simply superb. Their topics are also thoroughly researched and cover a lot of ground in an easy to read format. Their books love to bring the past back into the future and highlight some amazing achievements from enthusiastic individuals in both New Zealand and Australia.

Their two latest books, released late last month, are no exception. 

“Classic Car and Caravan Combos Downunder” is a selection of the prettiest classic car and caravan combos across Australia and New Zealand. Through the book, Don and Marilyn recall countless restoration and acquisition stories that have led a wide variety of people to restoring and owning their car and caravan combos.

With the popularity of vintage and classic caravanning increasing exponentially, it was only a matter of time before many of the caravans became united with a classic tow car. For many owners, the twin restoration projects were double the workload, but no doubt double the fun once their very creative works of road-going art hit the highways.

Don was born into caravans. His father, Tek Jessen, started the company Liteweight Caravans in the mid-1940s, which went onto become New Zealand’s largest caravan manufacturer until it ceased production four decades later in the 1990s.

“When caravans were built in the old days, it was not uncommon for the new owners to request that the colour of their caravan be matched to their car,” says Don. “It is very cool to see vintage caravannners doing the same thing now and colour matching their rigs.”

Looking through the book it would appear many owners have taken the colour matching and styling to new and very distinctive levels.

“For many readers, Classic Car and Caravan Combos Downunder will be a nostalgic trip down memory lane and for others it will bring on the excitement of possibly owning a classic car and caravan combo,” says Don. “For existing vintage car owners, they may even be tempted to extend their hobby to include a vintage caravan.”

“Three-Wheeling Downunder” is another colourful book that features a selection of amazing three-wheelers in both New Zealand and across the ditch spanning more than a century. They range from a 1915 Royal Enfield with a cane sidecar to a 2017 Australian Tri Pod three-wheeled sports car and the chrome eye-candy of a 2018 Kiwi-built five-seater V8 James D trike. 

As an ex-owner of a three-wheeler, Don can vouch for the ultimate expression of road-going engineering ingenuity and the sheer riding fun these vehicles provide. His own passion for motorcycles goes back to when he was just five years old and sat up-front of his older cousin on rides around the local park on a 1952 Matchless 500cc single.     

“I have to admit to being a convert to three-wheeling and now prefer it to the two-wheeled motorcycle alternative,” says Don. “We need to keep in mind that as you get older and the knee joints start giving out, three-wheeling keeps you out there with the wind in your face.” 

In recent years three-wheeled vehicles have really come of age as recreational vehicles. With such a wide collection of trikes and three-wheeled cars to look at, and read about, Three-Wheeling Downunder is bound to capture the imagination of all readers.

Don and Marilyn believe this tribute to three-wheeling will appeal a wide and varied audience including those who are already committed and fanatical owners.   

Regardless of whether it’s a classic car and caravan combo or a three-wheeled vehicle, the one thing they share in common is they are attention grabbers, often stopping people in their tracks. They both create great public appeal and interest and no doubt Don and Marilyn’s two new books will do the same.  Even if you’re not into classic caravans, cars or three-wheelers, the books can still be enjoyed by flicking through the many pages of fantastic photography. 

The books can be purchased at Paper Plus in Whitianga.


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