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Vintage Travel Trailers Catching on with Hot Rodders

 

Words: John Gunnell

One of the latest trends in hot rodding is vintage travel trailers from the ‘30s through the ‘70s. Car shows like the Symco Hotrod & Kustoms Weekend (www.symcohotrods.com) and the Iola Car Show (www.IolaOldCarsShow.com) are now featuring campgrounds for vintage travel trailer fans.

Murphy Auto Museum (www.MurphyAutoMuseum.org) in Oxnard, Calif., recently held its 6th “Let’s Go Camping” show. In early June, over 60 vintage trailers went to Bear Lake Campground (www.BearLakeCampground.com), in Manawa, Wis. for a Vintage Trailerfest. The Midwest Vintage Trailer Rally (www.buffalolakecamping.com) in Montello, Wis., is in its 17th year.

Hot rodders enjoy pulling old trailers with hot rods. The most popular trailers are probably Airstream Liners, originally produced by McFaul Brothers in Glendale, Calif. They were advertised as the “World’s lightest, fastest, easiest towing trailer coaches.” Rodders also like “Canned Ham” trailers, manufactured by Yellowstone, Shasta, Nomad, Comet, Pathfinder, Trailblazer, Layton, Serro Scotty, Forester and Westwind. Another popular vintage style is the pod-like, fiberglass-bodied Scamp. Smaller models are popular because they are easier to pull and easier for collectors to store when they’re not in use.

When taken to shows, vintage trailers are often displayed with period artifacts such as old Coke coolers and tin picnic baskets. A recent issue of Country Living magazine said these can be worth up to $350.

Restored trailers are worth considerably more than “as found” trailers. Many of the units seen at shows are as-found trailers that have been carefully cleaned up and treated to new paint, new curtains and new upholstery. A real trailer restoration includes more than that. Steve Prouty of Vintage Camper Restoration LLC in Cazenovia, Wis., says he estimates restoration costs at $1,000 per foot of trailer length. Prouty said that demand grows every year.

The website www.ceciliatheshasta.com has a page documenting the purchase and restoration of a 1970 Siesta Cabin Cruiser trailer. The total cost, including buying the trailer, was $6,498.57. This suggests that you can save considerable money by restoring a trailer yourself, just as you can with a hot rod.

There are numerous You Tube videos on the Internet that document vintage trailer restorations and show the type of work involved. If you can buy and restore a trailer for $6,500 and sell it for $10,000-$13,000 when it’s restored, there seems to be some upside to such a project. On the other hand, most owner restorations do not factor in the value of the restorer’s time and labor. Vintage Trailer Magazine (www.vintagetrailermagazine.com) is a publication you may want to check out if you are interested in vintage travel trailers.

 

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