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.

Interior of Paralanian
Luxury interior with polished walnut furniture and Axminster carpets. Built 1957-1965 in Bradford, UK. Overall length 4.32m (14’ 2”), 1500cc petrol or diesel, rear-wheel drive

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!

Two Paralanian 'vans
Not one but two Paralanian Mark 3s , when they were already over 40 years old! Austin 152 is nearest camera (rectangular grille, horizontal bars), with Morris J2 in the distance (lozenge-shaped grille, vertical bars)

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.

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