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Karavaan vervaardigers in Suid Afrika. Die geskiedenis!

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02 Jun 2015 @ 17:47:53 pm
Nemo
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Ek lees nou net in die draad "Future of caravans?" van David Drake die volgende opmerking: “Back in the 70's with the fuel crisis we experienced a drop in the engine sizes of cars. Since then, Jurgens have taken over CI and even seems they have discontinued the Gypsey range totally. Jurgens have always been known to build heavier caravans than CI and have been responsible for increasing the weight of both Sprite and Gypsey - no mention of the Wilk!”

Dit was vir my heel interessant. Maar ek wou nie weer daai draad skaak met hierdie vraag nie. Derhalwe probeer ek maar 'n nuwe draad.

Wie het dalk meer inligting en kortweg die geskiedenis van Jurgens, Sprite, CI, Wilk ens? Is almal nou maar eintlik Jurgens? Ek is maar heel onbekend met dit als. Van die motor en trok vervaardigers weet ek meer maar van die karavane niks. Is Jurgens 'n SA vervaardiger? Klomp vrae? Of is dit al voorheen genoem/bespreek hier op die forum?

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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:08:41 pm
Relaxed Camper
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Interesante onderwerp....gaan hierdie een volg!

WAARSKUWING:

Kampeer is aansteeklik en verslawend 😁
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:25:40 pm
Izak
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Dit kan net interessant wees en geskiednis is my leesstyf.
Hi there fellow camper, enjoy camping.
When you leave just leave your foot prints and nothing other than a clean site as you found it.
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:26:59 pm
chameleon
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Die biekie inligting wat ek het hoop dit help Jurgens was vriende van my gewese ouers hulle het uit Holland gekom waar oubaas jurgens begin bou het  met karavane met sy ondervinding uit Holland hy het later die klits kwyt geraak en hulle moes hom onder sig plaas. Die twee seuns het toe aan gegaan  met die besigheid wat ń geweldige sukses van die besigheid gemaak het Maar toe trek greed in en die een beskuldig die ander dat hy meer doen as die ander want die een bestuur die fabriek en die ander die finasieële kant .Dis toe dat die finasieële broër sê koop my uit  die ander broër kon dit toe nie maak nie dis toe waar hy uitgekoop is deur ń persoon wat ń inmaak fabriek het hy het so groot sukses daarmee gemaak dat hy CI uitgekoop het nou besit Imperial hulle

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:38:18 pm
Lennie
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Die bietjie wat ek weet en kan onthou, is die volgende :-

Jurgens Woonwaens se fabriek was gesetel in Kemtonpark, 'n egte Suid-Afrikaanse maatskappy wat deur die Jurgens familie besit en bestuur is.  Hulle was daarvoor bekend om puik woonwaens te bou waarvan die afwerking en detail onberispelik was.

Caravans International was ook 'n Suid-Afrikaanse maatskappy wat in Pinetown gesetel was en hulle produkte, Gypsey en Sprite,  is daar vervaardig. Later is die Wilk en nog ander produkte bygevoeg.

Jurgens het finansiële probleme ervaar en sou sluit, maar Caravans International het hulle oorgeneem en die maatskappy se naam verander na Jurgens Ci.  Die fabrieke in Kemptonpark en Pinetown is gesluit en 'n nuwe fabriek is noord van Pretoria op die been gebring vanwaar die maatskappy nou nog funksioneer.

In die ou dae was Gypsey, Sprite en Jurgens verskillende handelsmerke met verskillende taknetwerke.  Dit is intussen almal saamgevoeg en die verskillende produkte word nou onder een dak deur onafhanklike handelaars onder die Campworld handelsmerk bemark.

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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:45:18 pm
WilSur
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Ja, van so ruk terug toe hulle Garankuwa toe is het die Jurgens Ci fabriek al drie die karavane daar gebou.

Die drie het hulle ook verskillend gebou, die Jurgens reeks se dele was op 'n NC masjien gesny en die Sprite was altyd die goedkoper een met vervaardiging gewees.

My vermoede is dat Jurgens Ci die totale reeks veklein deur die Gypsey tot niet te maak sodat hylle dalk die Jurgens reeks gaan uitbrei deur iets soos die Australise Jurgens reeks, want hulle het die planele begin uitvoer.

Dis net my sienning en gedagtes (vermoede), niks meer nie.

Oppad na die volgende kamp.
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:50:31 pm
chameleon
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Dis ook hoe Sprite  SA binne gekom het in kit form vanaf Engeland

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:55:40 pm
chameleon
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Wilsur jy is heeltemaal reg die ou wat Jurgens oor gekoop het het ń inmaak fabriek in Garankuwa besit dis hoekom hulle soentoe is kan net nie op sy naam kom nie

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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02 Jun 2015 @ 18:58:19 pm
Nemo
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Baie interessant!. Ek's seker mens ou 'n boek kon skryf oor die geskiedenis van karavaan vervaardiging in SA. Maar ek hoop om nog meer inligting te kry. Ek het op 'n stadium gehoor dat die Jurgens broers uitmekaar was en dat die een broer toe 'n ander karavaan maatskappy begin het. Een wat goedkoper was en beter produkte gelewer het. Ek kan ongelukkig nie die naam onthou nie maar iemand het 'n keer met so vreemde naam karavaan langs ons kom staan en toe die hele storie vertel. Ook blykbaar het die een broer nou die ander een dood gemaak. Dit was so ruk terug in die nuus. So klink my die Jurgens familie is 'n storie op homself! 

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02 Jun 2015 @ 19:02:45 pm
chameleon
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Wat ek wel weet dat die jurgens broers later jare Travelstar begin het wat weer oor gekoop is deur die Groen broers

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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02 Jun 2015 @ 21:30:30 pm
chameleon
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As my memory reg is was dit  Delport wat daai tyd Jurgens by Jurgens gekoop het en dit Garankuwa toe geskuif het

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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03 Jun 2015 @ 06:31:48 am
It'l dodat
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Can anyone shed light on Aero-car?

many years ago, I actually went into the factory, which was just off the R22 on the Germiston side of the Edenvale off-ramp.

Buying a van was in the back of my mind, and one Saturday I was tootling around on my bike, saw the sign at the R22 "Aero-car caravans" and followed the arrow and got there....

Later from what I was led to believe (and this is all third party information, so i can't vouch for it's accuracy) that After the break-up of Old man Jurgen's and his 2 sons, the old man started Aero car.

If that's the case then I met the Old man at the factory... I distintly remember being told how the seat bunks have a dual purpose and can be used as a little boat as they float... And how unimpressed I was with that bit of "gimmicy" 

A fair chunk of the history was published in "that-other-magazine-that-shall-remain-nameless".... Some time back....

You know the one.... Tht one that never ever ever finds any flaw with any Jurgens or Mass-mart products.... Grrrrrrrrrrr

Perhaps somebody has a back issue....

 

 

 

 

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 08:15:09 am
AndrePrinsloo
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Baie intresante thread

"Nou gaan ons braai!!!! Kamp met oorgawe!!!!"
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03 Jun 2015 @ 08:21:53 am
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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I remember them to, Warren.

I think I saw two in caravan parks - not very popular - and have never seen them second hand - saw a number at shows and a single dealer.

The idea was actually interesting/good. I seem to recall they had aluminium chassis to make them lighter - nothing has matched the light weight of these yet. The bunks were also multi purpose in that they served as furniture outside as well.
Having grown up in the Lowveld,at these may flip in wind easily - even the ever popular Sprite Musketeers were blown over on Long Tom pass (near Lydenburg.

I am like others here - DANGEROUS - know a bit about the caravan history, but too not enough to quote or be quoted - Willie may be able to sit down and structure his memories here.

Similarly, someone may be able to add a history on previous Rhodesian caravans - there were quite a lot in S.A.
DR DRAKE GP

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:01:42 am
Lennie
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If you Google "The Jurgens Caravan Story" you will find the full history as published by Caravan & Outdoor Life in 2012.

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:15:38 am
It'l dodat
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@ Dave. Pretty much.

Like I said "gimmicy" furniture, And I've never been enamoured with the layout's..

Last one I saw was a Saturn @ Charisma caravans +- 18 months ago.

@ Lennie 

If you Google "The Jurgens Caravan Story" you will find the full history as published by Caravan & Outdoor Life in 2012.

Hi Lennie,

That's it... But still there is no info on the tie in with Aero car in those articles, even in the Wickipedia one...

Was that swept under the carpet or have I got my facts wrong?

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:17:52 am
Anonymous

Ek onthou ook die Aero Car, maar was daai tyd juis bang vir die lig gewig en windsurprised

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:26:38 am
The RETIRED Boring Camper
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I'll look into this one.

I think Gonnie has a book on the history of Jurgens Ci. I'll check with him and put something together.

 

Regards.
This is how we spent the last fifteen years - working our buts off!
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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:27:36 am
It'l dodat
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Thanks Willie...

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:29:04 am
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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Thanks Willie - Please remember there was not only Jurgens and CI.

DR DRAKE GP

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:31:37 am
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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Aerocar Caravan 4 bed Saturn B

DR DRAKE GP

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:48:36 am
Anonymous

Daar was ook die baie gewilde, maar duur Gazelle karavane. Groot ruim en baie mooi.

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03 Jun 2015 @ 09:53:24 am
HM
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Hier is nog leesstof wat jy kan navors Nemo.

  1. Stammer, Gunther; Laing, Keith (2014). 60 Years of Caravanning in South Africa. South Africa: Jurgens Ci (Pty) Ltd. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-620-59065-5.
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03 Jun 2015 @ 10:01:38 am
The RETIRED Boring Camper
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Hendrik - That is the book you are refering to. I think Gonnie has a copy. I will check with him later today.

Regards.
This is how we spent the last fifteen years - working our buts off!
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03 Jun 2015 @ 11:15:03 am
Ski
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Long and short of all is

Jurgens was besit deur oubaas jurgens en sy seuns. in 1988 as ek reg onthou hulle uit gekoop as bankrot besigheid. 1989 het jurgens so herstel dat hulle Gazelle wat in edevale gemaak is uit gekoop het en in 1994 het hulle WJ wat in vereeniging gemaak is uit gekoop. Fabriek is garanguwa toe geskuif om kostes te bespaar. In 1997 as ek reg onthou het Jurgens vir CI uit gekoop en sio het Jurgens CI ontstaan

 

Aerocar was in fabriek langs Gazelle in edenvale vervardig deir Rieks Jurgens. My Pa en Rieks en Oubaas jurgens was vriende. Die aerocar het geen hout in sy konstruksie nie en was baie modern vir sy tyd met plastiek kaste en banke wat kon uithaal en gebruik word as rooibote. Aerocars het nie verkoop nie want die mense was nie reg vir die plasstiek kaste nioe en wa was ook baie nou.

Rieks se ander broer het fent ingevoer en Travelstaar Motorhomes gebou en ook op n staduim hout bote gebou in knysna

 

Nie heeltemal seker van die datums nie maar dit is min of meer die storie van hoe JurgensCi ontaan het

Nico & Mandy
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03 Jun 2015 @ 11:21:46 am
WilSur
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Dankie Nico

Het gewag vir jou inligting.

Die Garanguwa fabrieg wad om soos jy sê koste te bespaar want daai tyd was daar 'n belasting voordeel gewees.

Oppad na die volgende kamp.
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03 Jun 2015 @ 11:25:53 am
Ski
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As julle kyk die nuwe 1990 reeks jurgens is presies dieselfde konstuksiew as die gazelle van 1997 af met die onderstel wat opgehou het net agter die as en die vloer wat die res gedra het agter toe. Daai vloer was oop n vacubondvloer om hom sterkte te gee. Die design het verander in 1992 na vol onderstel toe.

Die Aerocar het daai tyd al die alco onderstel soos wat jurgens nou gebruik gehad.

Nico & Mandy
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03 Jun 2015 @ 12:15:28 pm
It'l dodat
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Many thanks Ski

So, then, it was Rieks Jurgens that I met and who took me on a guided tour through the factory at the time, not the old man.... many thanks for clearing that up for me... That one's been years..

Perhaps you can set me straight on some other bits I've been told...

Apparantly oubaas Jurgens was borderline genius, and at the time of the fall out with his son's he either aimed a firearm or actually shot / shot at / one of the sons, As far as I understand the fall out was over what the oubaas saw as "compromising on quality to save costs"???

@ Doc... No the model I saw @ Chrisma was the Saturn, but way more sloped in the front. I Googled some pics and apparantly was the Saturn B....

As an apprentice at SAA, I well remember rows and rows of those white caravans standing in the yard at Kempton...

 

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 12:18:03 pm
Nemo
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If you Google "The Jurgens Caravan Story" you will find the full history as published by Caravan & Outdoor Life in 2012.

&

Hier is nog leesstof wat jy kan navors Nemo.

  1. Stammer, Gunther; Laing, Keith (2014). 60 Years of Caravanning in South Africa. South Africa: Jurgens Ci (Pty) Ltd. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-620-59065-5.

Lennie en Hendrik baie dankie. Ja, ek was al op die internet en het ook daai verwysings gesien in Wikiopedia. Ook die storie daar gelees oor Jurgens CI. Maar ongelukkig kon ek om die een of ander rede gald nie in een van daai twee verwysings inkom nie. Dalk is ek so bietjie tegnologies gestrem en is dit iewers 'n "setting" op my rekanaar wat nie reg is nie of dalk is my ADSL lyn spoed nie reg nie. Ek het alles probeer wat ek met my beperkte kennis kon. (Wat nie veel meer is om te sit en wag tot hy oopmaak nie! Lol!) Aan die anderkant was geduld nog nooit my sterk punt nie.

Maar dankie vir almal wat sover gereageer het. Willie dankie, ek het nogal gehoop jy sou help!

Dink net as ons al daai inligting bymekaar gemaak het kan ons dalk Wikipedia  "Update"!tongue-out

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03 Jun 2015 @ 12:18:28 pm
Ski
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He actuly shot and wounded dirk. But that was many moons ago. Aerocar also built electric busses from the plant there in edenvale.

Nico & Mandy
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03 Jun 2015 @ 12:25:52 pm
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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Correct Warren.

Do a search of "Aerocar Saturn" under images. There are a couple of pictures of the inside and double axle, but are too small to copy on my side - some pictures to bring back memories.

DR DRAKE GP

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03 Jun 2015 @ 13:11:37 pm
WilSur
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Is dit hy David ?

 

 

 

Oppad na die volgende kamp.
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03 Jun 2015 @ 13:16:33 pm
Ski
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Aerocar was ongelooflik lig dink die 21 foet een het 860 kg geweeg

 

Nico & Mandy
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03 Jun 2015 @ 13:17:36 pm
It'l dodat
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Yip that's the one I saw @ Chrisma... Thanks Will

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 14:54:13 pm
Chuck Norris
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Dankie Willie, interressant,
As jy wil he jou drome moet waar word, moet jy eers wakker word.

Die jonge Fransies. (Parys - Frankryk)
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03 Jun 2015 @ 14:59:35 pm
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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Ja Willem - daar was ook 'n klein een (omtrent die voorste venster korter), maar ek sien nie op internet nie - dis seker nie belangrik nie.

DR DRAKE GP

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03 Jun 2015 @ 15:06:09 pm
It'l dodat
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He actuly shot and wounded dirk. But that was many moons ago. Aerocar also built electric busses from the plant there in edenvale.

Wow!  

From what I remember of the factory, that must have been a bit of a squash...surprised

@ Ski... Thanks for clearing that up...

FROM YOUR POST ABOVE

Aerocar was ongelooflik lig dink die 21 foet een het 860 kg geweeg

Well now... Hear's a thing... Whats that thread about the future of caravans? And caravans needing to be lighter for the smaller engined cars??? 

Perhaps a thought??

 

 

Slightly quicker downhill....
These days a teeny-tiny bit more slightly quicker....
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03 Jun 2015 @ 15:50:07 pm
Ski
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Aerocar het niks hout in construksie gehad nie. selfs vloer was  Alu/foam/alu en al die laste was met alu extrution gedoen. Kaste was plastiek en die vensters was dubbel soos die jurgens sin met alu raam so die venster het geen strain gevat nie. Hulle het ook dieselfde gaas en blinders opgehad soos dometic nou op hulle vensters sit.

Van was net 2000mm wyd so was bietjie beknop binne. Ongelukige is daar min info op die internet want dit was voor die tyd.

In die vroe 60's het my pa en oom en rieks geexperimenteer met vacubond maar daai tyd was dit nog masonite binne en buite

 

Nico & Mandy
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03 Jun 2015 @ 16:01:30 pm
Izak Holtzhausen
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I have downloaded the pictures of a 1984 Aero from Gumtree where is was offered forsale a while back
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03 Jun 2015 @ 17:31:48 pm
Karoo Klong
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Interesante geskiedenis,ek lees graag verder,dankie.
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03 Jun 2015 @ 17:50:52 pm
Relaxed Camper
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Dankie almal vir hierdie interesante feite😁

WAARSKUWING:

Kampeer is aansteeklik en verslawend 😁
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03 Jun 2015 @ 18:22:20 pm
PietG
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Baie interresante geskiedenis. Dankie aan die navorsers en die van julle wat so lank terug kan onthou. Ek het een vraag. In die 70stes het ons bure in Frankfort gehad met n Kudu karavaan. Ons het toe n Sprite GT gehad en baie saam gekamp by Jim Fouche oord. Weet iemand waar die Kudu karavaan vandaan gekom het?.
Ons drink uit die piering want ons koppie loop oor.
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03 Jun 2015 @ 19:25:51 pm
Nemo
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Ek het nou 'n hele klomp inligting gekry van Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine. Met die fotos wat ek verwyder het en die "font" wat ek 8 gemaak het is dit 3 bladsye vol. Dit gee die Jurgens geskiedenis.  Okay dit konsentreer meeste op Jurgen met enkele verwysings na ander karavaan vervaardigers. Ook die oorkoop van Caravans International (CI). baie interessante artikels.

Nou't ek net een probleem. As ek dit hier plaas weet ek nie of die forum/website so groot post sal kan hanteer nie. Maar die belangrikste ek wil nie probleme kry met  Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine dat ek hulle artikels hier plaas nie.

So ek gaan eers uitvind of Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine okay is daarmee.

 

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03 Jun 2015 @ 19:45:41 pm
Anonymous

Goeie besluit Roelf, daar is onlangs hofsake ivm copy regte wat deur rubriek skrywers berigte netso in ander koerante/tydskrifte gebruik het.

Ek glo die wet op kopie regte gaan hier ook van toepassing wees.

Daar is egter geen wet wat jou verbied om na hulle edisie en selfs bladsy te verwys nie.

Jy moet ook erkenning aan hulle gee, al gee hulle jou die reg om dit te plaas.

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04 Jun 2015 @ 07:42:11 am
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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Hi Piet,

Ek is dalk verkeerd, maar ek verbeel my die Kudu was "ingevoer" vanaf Zimbabwe (destyds Southern Rhodesia).

Karavane vanaf Rhodesia was bekend vir die mooi hout wat hulle gebruik het. 

DR DRAKE GP

not a Doctor nor a GP
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04 Jun 2015 @ 09:20:44 am
chameleon
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Waar is die Slipstream manne en nog die ander opvoubare karavaans

Het in die 70 tigs lekker gesleep met my slipstream

Camping is a collection of memories .... make each one count
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04 Jun 2015 @ 09:44:10 am
HM
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Na tente het ons 'n Capilano Camper Canopy gekoop in die 1970's. 

By die staanplek lig jy hom op, en trek die bakkie onder uit.

Lanklaas van hulle gesien.

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04 Jun 2015 @ 10:18:36 am
Ski
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Slipstream ook oorgekoop deur jurgens maar lank voor al die ander dinge begin gebeur het. Baie van die andermake het net opgehou bou wie kan die camprides en die porta camp karavane onthou

Nico & Mandy
2017 Mahindra S10 4x4 D/C
Double Trouble
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04 Jun 2015 @ 10:34:51 am
DR DRAKE GP not a Doctor nor a GP
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My hand is in die lig, vir die Capilano ook.

DR DRAKE GP

not a Doctor nor a GP
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04 Jun 2015 @ 11:47:53 am
Nemo
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Hierdie is ‘n artikel wat in drie dele verdeel was en in 3 uitgawes van “Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine” verskyn het gedurende 2012. Ek het dit op www.caravansa.co.za gekry. Hulle het gesê ek mag dit hier vir julle plaas. Persoonlik dink ek “Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine” het puik en deeglike artikels soos hierdie een. Dankie aan “Caravan & Outdoor Life magazine”. Gaan besoek hulle gerus by www.caravansa.co.za want ek dink daar’s nog baie meer inligting wat mens daar kan kry.

Hierdie is grotendeels die geskiedenis van Jurgens.

"While the Jurgens story in South Africa starts in November 1950, Jurgens caravans actually date back to 1938 in Holland, where Mr Geert (‘Oubaas’) Jurgens, a coachworks and truck body builder who ran his own business, constructed his first caravan . Even he couldn’t have dreamed where that act would take him.

The Jurgens family arrived in Johannesburg in 1950 without much money, but with a determination to make a life for themselves in their new home. For 18 months they worked in the truck body building trade, learning the South African way. In 1952 they were ready to ‘show South Africa what we can do’, and opened their own factory in Germiston. It had three employees, the father and his two sons. Three months later a tradesman was added, and a year later the staff complement was 25.

The highlight of 1952, besides the start up of the business, was the production of the first Jurgens caravan in South Africa – ‘Bokkie’, as it was affectionately known. This was indeed a family effort, as the interior cushions and curtains were hand-sewn by Mrs Jurgens. The business in the early 1950s was primarily focused on vehicle body building, and it was not long before Jurgens-built bread delivery vans could be seen on Johannesburg’s roads. Those of us with long memories may remember the mobile libraries that were handcrafted in the Jurgens factory. In the mid-1950s caravan production began on a serious scale, as the public of South Africa took to this new form of recreation. The staff complement at Jurgens had now grown to 48, and they were unable to employ any more – not because they didn’t have work for them, but because they had run out of space! The search for new premises got under way. At this time the company was doing body building, producing caravans and trailers, plus motorhomes. The late 1950s saw the arrival of Caravans International with the Sprite marque: the first real competitor to Jurgens had arrived.

1960 was notable for two major events in the caravan industry. One was the birth of the first magazine dedicated to the coverage of caravaning and outdoor pursuits, Caravan magazine (now Caravan & Outdoor Life), which later that year became the official organ of the Caravan Club of Southern Africa. The other was the launch of the iconic Sprite Alpine. Incidentally, 1960 also saw the introduction of the Valiant – an essential car for caravaners. It was in the early 1960s that caravaning really took off. Jurgens were stretched to the limit to fulfil the orders they were generating, so in 1963 they moved to their new headquarters in Kempton Park, adjacent to Jan Smuts Airport. Just 18 months later, Jurgens had to more than double the size of their factory to cope with the demand. Then, in 1964, Caravans International acquired Gypsey, and Jurgens now had two major competitors. The same year saw the introduction of the crown into the Jurgens logo, which in time would give rise to the slogan ‘King of the Great Outdoors’.

The mid-1960s saw the caravan boom continue, and in 1967 Jurgens celebrated the manufacture of their 10 000th caravan. By the late 1960s Jurgens led the pack with the introduction of a side tent on their caravans, and in 1969 you could buy a Jurgens 13A with a tent and a fridge for R1540 plus tax! The caravan industry looked forward with confidence to the 1970s. Little did they know how harsh the next decade would be.

The 1970s started with a bang. Sales were booming and order books were full. In 1972 Jurgens manufactured 3000 caravans, a 20% increase on the previous year. By 1973 the caravan market was estimated to be worth R25 million, which in those days was a princely sum.

But already the storm clouds were gathering. Political tensions in South Africa were rising, sanctions were being threatened and a fuel crisis loomed. Yet against this background the management at Jurgens were steadfast in their belief that if their product was innovative enough and of ‘normal’ Jurgens quality, the South African public would buy it, no matter the state of the economy and political landscape.

In 1973 Jurgens launched the Autovilla, the first mass-produced compact motorhome, and a product that would ultimately be found in all corners of the world. The Autovilla was such a success that in 1975 the famed German manufacturing company Karmann applied to make the Autovilla under license.

The fuel crisis of the mid-1970s led to the design of low-profile, low-drag pop-up caravans that were billed as easier to tow and more economical on fuel thanks to their aerodynamic efficiency. They were also towable with smaller-engined vehicles. Jurgens were slow to react to this design change, perhaps because they were introducing firsts of their own, like Sagex polystyrene insulation, tinted anti-glare windows, the first cloakroom in a caravan and the revolutionary reverse brake, which made it possible to reverse a caravan without having to operate a lever. Strangely, caravan parks objected to what they referred to as ‘soft tops’, and refused them entry as they weren’t proper caravans!

With the caravan market under siege, the government in its wisdom decided to levy a tax of 33% on caravans. This was reversed the following year to the standard 4% VAT, but the damage had already been done. It was only in 1978 that Jurgens responded to the low-profile threat that had eroded their market share with a typically creative Jurgens solution. They introduced a caravan with an ellipsoid-shaped roof. Simply put, the roof line was longer than the floor.

As the 1970s drew to a close, the ‘Autovilla effect’ took hold and many more motorhomes were visible on South African roads. Then, in 1980, tragedy struck: Rieks Jurgens resigned and sold his shares to his brother Dirk. The 28-year roller-coaster ride that had been spearheaded by father and two sons had come to an end. The partnership which had been described as genius, with Rieks as the PR and marketing man and Dirk as the hands-on factory man, was over. While the Jurgens factory put on a brave face and tried to remain competitive with the launch of the Fleetline 6pop-up and a revamped Autovilla, the introduction of an all-220 V model and the first tandem axle caravan, the designs lacked flair and the company was losing market share to the competition.

Jurgens needed a partner, and the Terexco group, headed by Neils Swart, acquired Jurgens Bodies, Caravans and Trailers in the mid 1980s. In an attempt to gain market share they purchased Slipstream (a fold-down caravan), which did not have the desired effect. Market share for the once mighty Jurgens Caravans had shrunk to single digits. An offer to CI Caravans to purchase Jurgens was turned down by the board on the basis that the business would die a natural death.

At this moment – perhaps not on his white steed, but quite probably in his white Valiant – appeared Michael Delport, fresh from the sale of his canning business. A condescending executive of CI International was heard to say, commenting on Mr Delport’s lack of experience in caravan matters, ‘You won’t last six months,’ an utterance he was later to regret profoundly.

The purchase of Jurgens Bodies, Caravans and Trailers by Michael Delport’s Decagon Group in 1989 had a number of interesting consequences. Firstly, and sadly, it spelled the end of a three-generation dynasty of Jurgens family involvement in the business that carried their name. Happily for South Africa, caravaning ran deep in their veins, and the talents of Rieks, Dirk and his two sons would not be lost as they brought caravan offerings of their own to market in subsequent years.

The second interesting aspect of the purchase of Jurgens was that it did not include the property adjacent to Jan Smuts Airport, which had been identified as the site for the World Trade Centre. Jurgens needed a new home.

This was to be in Ga-Rankuwa, west of Pretoria, in those days part of the Bophuthatswana homeland. Meanwhile, a skeleton staff manufactured about 200 Jurgens caravans in 1989: a market share of around 7%! The new factory in Ga-Rankuwa opened officially on 1 January 1990. Delport recalls: ‘I had a new factory that had never produced a caravan and a new labour force who had never built a caravan!’ These were indeed to be challenging times. What the Jurgens brand desperately needed was a new model, something that had not happened for a number of years. Wim Slippens, a touchy and irascible designer who had worked at Jurgens for 30 years, was handed the task. As Delport reminisces, ‘What we ended up doing, much to Wim’s horror, was stripping out a Palma and building a new interior on the spot. No drawings – just trial and error. It took us a week.’ Thus was born the Penta – according to Michael Delport, the most successful caravan of his tenure.

Even so, 1990 only produced around 450 sales for Jurgens, and that through a dealer network that the previous year had stood at a total of five outlets. A bold new approach was required. The Rand Easter Show of 1991 was to be the platform for the launch of what became known as the ‘Continentals’. The bold interior styling with matching side tent became an instant hit. The turnaround so desperately needed by Jurgens had been achieved, but much work still had to be done.

The first urgent task was to rebuild the dealer network, many of whom had defected to the CI Caravans fold when Jurgens lost its way in the mid-1980s. By the end of 1991 Jurgens had 21 dealers and were winning back market share in an economic climate that was feeling the effects of timeshare and the political uncertainty of South Africa’s first democratic reforms.

Predictably, 1992 was a poor year for the caravan industry, and 1993 proved better, but sadly the cracks were beginning to show in a beleaguered CI Caravans. The following year, 1994, saw the launch of the next generation of Jurgens caravans, heralded with the claim: ‘The aerodynamics of the new Jurgens range are the biggest change in caravaning in a decade. ’ The new range helped Jurgens obtain 40% market share and seemed to sound the death knell for CI Caravans. As Michael Delport put it, ‘The Jurgens launch of 1994 knocked the stuffing out of CI.’ Later that year the man who was told when he bought Jurgens that he would not last six months bought CI Caravans. Jurgens Ci was born.

In hindsight the purchase was well timed, as sales increased over 22% in 1995, with Jurgens leading the way. The balance of the 1990s saw new offerings from Jurgens, Gypsey and Sprite, before the CI Caravans facility in Pinetown was closed and moved to Ga-Rankuwa. In 1998 Jurgens took the next leap forward with the introduction of Africa’s first mass-produced off-road caravan, the Xplorer. This proved so popular that waiting lists were the order of the day. No sooner had demand for the Xplorer been met than Jurgens launched a smaller off-road caravan, the Oryx. Again, waiting lists stretched around the proverbial block. The new millennium had started with a bang. Jurgens Ci celebrated their 50th anniversary in South Africa with the launch of the Penta Gold range, yet another winner! Shortly after this, the popular Jurgens Safari range of Xplorer and Oryx was supplemented with a medium-sized off-roader, the Xcape. This made 2004 a bumper year for the Jurgens Ci group, with sales up 38% on the previous year, thanks mainly to the new Sprite range and the Jurgens Safari off-road range. The Classique, launched in 2005, bucked the popular trend of pop-up roofs. It was an aerodynamic rigid-roof caravan, and another instant success. The Jurgens Ci group was gathering a head of steam. The updated Safari range was introduced in 2007 – and then the Jurgens saga took another twist.

Michael Delport announced that he was selling Jurgens Ci to the Imperial Group. While the acquisition by Imperial made perfect sense, as it complemented the group’s already major involvement in the automotive industry, the decision by Delport caught many by surprise. ‘I had accomplished what I had set out to do. The company was on a sound footing and I wasn’t getting any younger. My children were involved in a different industry that interested me; it was time to move on.’ Delport left the company in 2008. Jurgens now had its fourth owner.

As the company moves forward to celebrate its 60th year in South Africa under the guiding hand of the Imperial Group, it’s as if the wheel has turned full circle – from the small company that made truck bodies, caravans and trailers in Germiston to the large Jurgens Ci group in Ga-Rankuwa, where today they manufacture truck bodies, caravans and trailers. Perhaps, the more things change, the more they stay the same."

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04 Jun 2015 @ 12:13:50 pm
The RETIRED Boring Camper
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Thanks for that Roelf.

I think this is very much what is published in the book that we mentioned a bit earlier:

Stammer, Gunther; Laing, Keith (2014). 60 Years of Caravanning in South Africa. South Africa: Jurgens Ci (Pty) Ltd. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-620-59065-5.

 

Regards.
This is how we spent the last fifteen years - working our buts off!
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