Never referred to as a Paralanian – each was ‘The Paralanian’. Many believe to this day that these were some of the finest coachbuilts ever made in the UK.
An Austin dealer in Bradford decided to mitigate the effects of the Suez Crisis on their commercial vehicle sales by exhibiting at the 1957 Motor Show an Austin 152 converted to a coachbuilt motorcaravan, and another fitted out as an ice-cream van. The motorcaravan received many advance orders and was built in their premises on Parry Lane – hence the name Paralanian.
Early models had a more bulbous exterior, not dissimilar to the Bluebird Highwayman previously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Game-changer came in 1963, when the more streamlined – and prettier – Mark 3 was launched. From the prototype, Central Garage majored on build quality and used top-notch materials – thus the Paralanian had a price to match!
Most were built on the Austin 152, although there were some on its doppelgänger the Morris J2, and a few on the Commer PB. These were forward-control base vehicles with the engine between the cab seats. That so many survive today is a tribute to the highly skilled, time-served workforce.
Thinking of buying an older ‘van? Then take a look at our guide to the best used motorhomes, where we share our top picks.
If you enjoyed this, catch up on other entries into our Hall of Fame:
- Airstream Excella 280 (1979-1989): at 8.53m long, this ‘van had a domestic-sized gas cooker with grill and oven.
- CIM Autohome (1972-1978): this ‘van was the first UK overcab coachbuilt to achieve pan-European market penetration.
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