This is an excerpt from an article by John Palmer in issue #59 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Photos by Hal Thoms
The Vintage Trailer hobby is just over twenty years old. I have been active in the hobby for the past twelve years and have witnessed extensive growth. For example, we now have lots of vintage rallies to choose from attending within a day’s driving distance. In California this past month, we had three very large Vintage Rally’s scheduled on the same weekend! We now have The VCT print magazine, we have had T.V. shows about our hobby and vintage trailer rebuilding, we have our annual Boot Camp Learning Experience “sold out” each year, and companies are now opening that specialize in the restoration of vintage campertrailers. We have parts vendors that have invested their resources into the tooling necessary to build reproduction parts to help save our old trailers. Major insurance companies are developing special policies targeted to our specific vintage trailer insurance needs. You cannot watch a primetime T.V. show or a T.V. commercial without seeing a vintage trailer used as a prop in the background. Mainline R.V. companies have tried to jump on the vintage bandwagon by releasing modern versions of the old Vintage Trailer designs.
Anyone remotely watching this hobby has already seen the significant increase in prices for restorable camper trailers, only to find them already sold when you call. So, what are your options to just accepting the increase in cost and limited availability of core trailers to rebuild that are in popular camper sizes? How about building your own hand built vintage trailer? Read the intire article in issue #59 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Click "Read More" below for more pictures.
Vintage trailering can be a very inexpensive hobby. If you are resourceful and somewhat handy, rescuing and restoring a vintage trailer may be right up your alley. Finding a great deal on an old camper, or better yet, inheriting a family heirloom may be the first step of joining in a vintage trailer rally. Whether you are combing the VCT Classifieds, cruising Craigslist, or sifting through Marketplace, your persistence will pay off. We suggest letting everyone that you know that you are looking for a camper trailer. Using your network of friends and family increases your eyes in the field. If you are willing to knock on some doors, you may even find one someone wants to have hauled away. Keep your eyes peeled and take a different route home through neighborhoods or down streets you don't usually travel. Who knows what you may find!
When we were kids looking for hot rods, we would put one guy in the truck's bed (standing up) and drive down alleys. From the vantage point of a lifted pick-up, the spotter could see otherwise hidden possibilities in the back yards. Today, the profile of a vintage trailer is a little easier to spot peaking up over a fence if you are looking.
Commissioning a custom build by a professional vintage trailer restorer is reserved for those that have the financial resources. An extraordinary vintage trailer build takes the time and talent of skilled professionals or a VERY proficient owner/builder. Many of the parts must be sourced or custom-crafted. Modern amenities like air-conditioning and adding bathrooms to trailers that didn't have them initially can start the price of the investment climbing. Stunning trailers updated with all the creature comforts can end up costing more than your first home. Here are a half dozen trailers that crest the six-figure threshold.
This 1950 Westcraft Capistrano is the brilliant result of more than a decade of meticulous restoration, craftsmanship, and modernization. It is the largest and most rare model that Westcraft ever offered. The 'Capistrano' is 33 feet long and features a Pullman roof (commonly referred to as a trolley top). The owner invested over $600,000 in this build and recently "Sold" it at auction to the high bidder in that price range. The bidder never completed the purchase, so the trailer goes back on the block. -more information and photos.
The subsequent three trailers on the list were built at the cost of about $550,000. The owner's ambitious vision to create a multi-room tiny house with vintage trailers required each of these three beauties to be restored with a unique floor plan to create a home when joined together with a common area patio and outdoor bathhouse. The 1949 Westcraft Trolley Top sleeps 6. The 1954 Spartan Imperial Mansion is a master bedroom suite and living room. The 1946 Spartan Manor is a gourmet kitchen and dining room. If this trailer looks a little different, that's because it is. The entire body was lifted 10" to give more headroom inside the coach. Best-Laid plans did not foresee permit issues, and the trailers can not be used on the owner's property. These trailers are currently for sale at a loss to the owner of nearly $200,000!
Professionally restored and rebuilt for the discriminating trailerite. New, never camped in, stored in a climate-controlled building. Don't wait a year or more to restore an Airstream; this 1959 Airstream Tradewind is available immediately. Styled with a 1950's martini/wine bar, the current owners wanted to capture a mid-century feeling with modern amenities. Appraised at well above its $130,000 asking price, this one-of-a-kind Airstream trailer may be a good investment.
Having traded hands a couple of times since Flyte Camp restored this 1961 Holiday House Geographic, it is hard to say exactly what the value of this trailer may be. Based on the original asking price and making an educated guess, I'd place the value north of $200,000. Only three of these trailers are known to exist and one collector in the USA owns this one and another one. The third was shipped to a collector in France over a decade ago. I don’t think he is willing to part with them at any price.
Curious to know how to determine the value of a vintage trailer? Click here for our blog on how we value them.
1936 Kozy Coach
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR SLIDESHOW
The pre-war Kozy Coach featured here is owned by Barry Weisse. A “Storage Wars” favorite, and Barrys own show, “Barry’d Treasure.” The “Storage Wars” spinoff premiered in March of 2014 on A&E and made a short run. The series features Weiss as he embarked on a cross-country trip unearthing some of the nation’s rarest and most fascinating collectibles. Maybe Barry will be traveling in his Kozy Coach!? Featured in Issue #13 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Soon to be featured on the cover of issue #57 of The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine coming in September in both print and digital formats. For almost 10 years subscribers to the magazine have recived their issues in their mailbox on-time, as promised. If you are a subscriber look forward to more photos of this recent build. If you'd like to subscribe now, click here to see several offers starting at $24.
1937 KOZY COACH DELUXE
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR SLIDESHOW
From the late 1920’s to the onset of World War II, one segment of the transportation world that was growing, despite economic woes, was the travel trailer industry. A leader in this growing world was Kozy Coach located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their advertising effectively told prospective buyers that “You’re Ahead with a Kozy Coach Behind”, or “Favorite of the Road-Wise”. They started with a welded steel chassis to prevent sagging, side-sway, and assure quiet operation and perfect alignment. In 1937 three models were offered, the Junior, the Standard, and the Deluxe, which offered all the comforts of a home away from home. Kozy Coaches were among the best trailers on the market and survived well into the 1950’s. A well preserved time capsule, featuring an original condition example of pre-war art deco and hand-crafted workmanship. Featured in Issue #20 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
1936 Covered Wagon
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR SLIDESHOW
In 1929 Arthur Sherman constructed a prototype 9x6x5’ “Box on Wheels” (after an uncomfortable rainy camping experience with a Clare Tent Trailer.) By 1935 Sherman sells 400 “Deluxe” 15 ft. trailers with a total output of 1134 Trailers. “Pioneers in Field”-1936. Some Deluxe exteriors are leather. In 1936 Sherman pre-orders hundreds of 6 foot axles when other trailer manufactures expanded their width to 8 feet. Sales dropped and depression woes set in.
World War II changed operations at Covered Wagon greatly, as it converted its production efforts to wartime needs. Sherman makes truck parts for the war effort. The company produced truck cargo bodies and was granted the Army-Navy “E” award for high achievement in war production in the spring of 1945. Additionally, forty-two Covered Wagon employees served in the armed forces during the war and one was killed in action in the Pacific.
Following the Allied victory in Europe, the War Department decreased its order for truck bodies from Covered Wagon. The company was apparently idled in mid-1945. By September of that year the plant was leased to the Ironrite Ironer Company, and by December, 1945, Ironrite ironers (and not travel trailers) were rolling off the assembly line. Covered Wagon officials expressed their intentions to resume trailer production after re-evaluating the company’s position, but this never occurred. The Covered Wagon Company passed into the pages of Mount Clemens history. With union problems, a lockout, bankruptcy with reorganization, and a shortage of materials, Sherman closes shop.
In 1958 Herbert Reeves Jr. visited the Arthur Sherman family and acquired the rights to the name and logos of the Covered Wagon Company. It had been the largest manufacturer in the industry and the first national giant. Reeves reestablished the Covered Wagon brand as a travel trailer manufacturer. He owned and operated the second generation Covered Wagon Trailer Company in Elkhart, IN from 1958 through the 60’s establishing several industry firsts such as developing the sewer line storage in the rear bumper and the rear access storage trunk. Reeves sold the manufacturing company in 1965 and it apparently produced “Covered Wagons” for a few more years. Reeves then opened the Arrowhead Park Campground in southern Michigan. With his widely varied career now over 30 years old, Herb Reeves was recognized for his years of dedicated service to the growth of the industry by induction into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in the class of 1979.
Do you have an interesting trailer that you would like to be featured in the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine? Share your high resolution photos and a bit about your vintage journey with us. EMAIL VCT
Women that are vintage trailering and running with their passions at work and at play.
NAME: Hannah Weber
TITLE: Owner/Boss Lady
COMPANY NAME: Hannah's Granny Crafts
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 4 years officially - However, I started selling in the 3rd grade
WEBSITE URL: hannahsgrannycrafts.com
Tell us about your business.
My business is centered around handmade crochet products. I focus on baby items and home decor. My target audience is the busy woman looking to gift high-quality, handcrafted products effortlessly.
What does being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner means the absolute world to me. It means I can build a life of my dreams. A life of financial independence, flexibility to make my own schedule, and the ability to make my own rules. It means I will be able to stay home with my future children while also running a business.
What or who has been your most significant influence in business and why?
My mom is the most amazing influence in my business. A considerable part of the reason I was so willing to jump into the life of entrepreneurship is that my mom owns several businesses in our small hometown, and I have grown up right in the heart of those businesses. I have seen the pros and cons of being a businesswoman, and I know that, for me, the pros outshine the cons in SO many ways. From a very young age, I have known that I wanted to be my own boss, and my mom has played a huge role in helping me achieve that goal - for instance, allowing me to sell some of my products in her gift shop starting in just the 3rd grade.
Another huge influence in my life is my grandma - "Grammy." Both women have overcome considerable obstacles in life and have used hard work and perseverance to overcome these obstacles. Grammy is such a massive influence in my life I based the branding of my business around her.
What is the best advice you can pass on to others?
If you are looking to start a business, just feel like it isn't the right time or just aren't "ready enough" - JUST START. Start anywhere. Even the most minor steps can make a HUGE difference. It will never be a perfect time, and I hate to break it to you; you will never feel prepared. This feeling never goes away in the journey of business owning, but it is worth every moment of uncertainty. This might sound stupid, but my greatest accomplishment is simply starting the business. It is scary and overwhelming, and it's a huge accomplishment to put your whole heart and soul out to the world.
Even those not interested in business owning, remember to SHOP SMALL!
What have been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Showing up. Simple as that. I mostly use Instagram and Facebook to market my business. Consistency is key. Show up for your audience - in stories, posts, everywhere possible. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be planned - just show up.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
It sounds cliche, but your failures are not as detrimental as they seem "in the moment." You will move on from them, and some of your greatest successes will come out of your biggest failures. I have come to love failure (ok, not LOVE it, but appreciate it) because it only helps me improve in the long run.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I don't have any huge projects coming up at the moment. I am focusing more on perfecting some of the smaller "behind the scenes" mechanics of my business to get things running just a little smoother :)
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
We are lucky enough to live in the center of Montana, surrounded by mountains. My favorite way to spend the weekends is in the mountains in my camper, my boyfriend and the dogs. I can crochet and take in the fresh mountain air - nothing better! I also love to hunt, which is so accessible to us because of where we live. We are truly blessed!
What is the number one business goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My number one goal for 2021 is expanding the amount of in-store places Hannah's Granny Crafts items are sold around the state and possibly beyond!
What would your book be about if you were to write one?
The adventures you can find in small-town Montana while running a business from it. I live in a town of 300-ish people, and I think many people think it's "boring." It is the farthest thing from that, and I wouldn't change it for the world.
What is the best way to connect with you?
I am most active on my Instagram account - @hannahsgrannycrafts. I am also on Facebook as Hannah's Granny Crafts, and you can check out my website hannahsgrannycrafts.com to find out more and look at items to purchase! So with that, I'll leave you with "Good Going" - a phrase Grammy says to me often. It means, "good luck, I'm in your corner rooting for you."
Paul Simon may have been on to something in 1975 with his hit song 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. You don't need to discuss much if you were going to board one of these beauties. Just drop off the key, Lee, And get yourself free.
Above: Inside the 1948 Greyhound. (The conversion was done decades ago.)
Coffee Company: This road warrior, affectionately known by its social media moniker as “FLXBUS,” was placed on a new 2013 Freightliner chassis and stretched three feet to accommodate a commercial generator. It also includes a custom automotive paint job, stainless counters and shelving, commercial espresso machines, under-counter refrigerators and reclaimed wood bleacher-style benches. The unit was designed for a two-person work flow with a curb side service window and removable exterior bar. By Timeless Travel Trailers
(Slide show above) Magpul, though, decided that they wanted to conduct their business in a more high-class environment, elegantly restoring a 1950’s era bus to do the job . . .
The boys in grey started with a 1952 Flxible Sightseer bus, then added all the bells and whistles that would possibly fit. All of the original badges and logos have been replaced with retro-stylized Magpul logos, including the embroidered leather trim on the driver’s chair. The interior of the bus has been completely restored, although as Drew says the bus wasn’t in that bad of shape to begin with when they started.
The passenger area of the bus is finished in a rich red leather with soft and comfortable cushions. There’s a typical bus-esque seating area right behind the driver, and then a bar area just behind that with a fully stocked and operational bar. e a pair of love seats, and then there’s the baggage compartment. The back of the bus holds some treasures. Complete article and photos featured in issue #18 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
1955 Flxible Story My Dad, Dean Carson was in the (bus) business all his life. There is a saying in our family, “buses are in our blood”, and just about all of the boys in the Carson Family end up getting into the bus business one way or another. In addition to our family fun, we would rent the bus out for movie shoots such as the popular TV Series Mad Men or the blockbuster hit Ali with Will Smith. See the whole story in issue #55 of the VCT Magazine.
1948 Flxible Owned by Matt and Tiffany. Spotted at the Mt. Baker Rally in 2018
Karludi is definitely a "one-of-a-kind" piece of art. Named after its current owners, Karla and Judi, this rags to riches story is ready for its next chapter. The superb detail and craftsmanship, from the high gloss cabinetry and chrome wraps to the deep upholstery and custom lighting, are ready to be appreciated by the next owners of this custom creation. Much like a fine classic car, this trailer has been pampered in her climate-controlled home since being rebuilt. She has never been camped in or seen the mud puddles of any state park. Who knows what the future may hold because anything is possible along the journey with Karludi....
This one-of-a-kind 1959 Tradewind Airstream could be yours.
Karludi's story began quite by accident nearly five years ago when Indiana residents Karla and Judi acquired the 1959 Airstream Tradewind from a friend. The friend had purchased the clear titled Airstream at a swap meet and brought it home to restore for camping. The trailer had spent at least the past three decades in a woods and hadn't been plated since 1986. It was occasionally used by hunters and served as a home to various critters and rodents. Although totally original, (except for added homemade bunks), everything needed gutted. The friend's wife was less than enthusiastic about the whole idea. While visiting one evening, Karla and Judi saw the trailer for the first time and upon discovering that is was a 1959, (the same birth year as Karla), it was quickly decided that they just had to have it. Now, what to do with it was another thing. Judi had no experience with camping or trailers. Karla had been raised camping in everything from a pop-up camper to a pickup camper to diesel pushers. Both being Realtors, renovation projects were quite common for the couple, but never anything with wheels. Still, their love for everything mid-century won out and the journey began.
The first decision was where to put the trailer while searching for restoration companies. Since the couple's home was in a community with restrictive covenants related to the parking of recreational vehicles, a storage facility was the only option for the first several months. During that time, the couple searched the Midwest for professionals who specialized in Airstreams. With very few options available, the trailer ended up in Ohio, where it would spend the next 14 months getting stripped of the years of decay and neglect. The goal was to keep the original footprint of the trailer, but renovate it into a "1950's martini/wine bar theme" with all of the modern conveniences. The interior was stripped to the outside skin and all new plumbing, wiring, insulation, HVAC, tanks and basic essentials were installed. The exterior was polished and freed from major blemishes. Because this company did not specialize in the custom cabinetry and finishes that were desired, Karludi returned home to await the next phase of her journey.
As one thing always leads to another, a permanent place needed to be found to keep the Airstream upon her return home. The real estate couple discovered 5 1/2 acres for sale in a nice suburban area just ten minutes from their home and decided it would be the perfect place to build something to store the trailer. As usual, their idea grew bigger and turned into a nearly 3,000 square foot suburban barn, complete with heat, full bath, kitchen, mid-century themed furnishings, and 14-foot doors at each end for "non-backing purposes". While the vision for the Airstream continued to evolve, she was securely tucked in and safe.
The discovery of Vintage Base Camp in Louisville, Kentucky turned out to be the crowning jewel of the journey. Owner Greg Penner's educational background in creative arts, along with his personal and professional history of Airstream renovations was just what Karla and Judi had been searching for. Greg, along with his team of master craftsmen, knew what was needed to complete the project. They were able to capture the vision and take it to a whole new level. Over several months of planning, Greg helped the couple move their ideas from their heads onto paper. He appreciated and embraced the theme they were looking to achieve and provided both artistic and technical ideas. Karludi was entrusted to Vintage Base Camp in December of 2018 and completed seven months later.
During this time, Karla and Judi were able to make several progress visits and had constant communication with the team. Update pictures were emailed regularly, as well as posts on the company Facebook page. Karludi quickly became a loved member of the Vintage Base Camp family, as did Karla and Judi.
If you are interested in this trailer and would like more details or to see it in person, click here.
Women are a big part of the vintage trailering community. They do more than just CAMP and GLAMP in vintage trailers. They are restoring them, polishing them, operating food carts, vintage vendors and photo booths out of them, and memorializing them in art and jewelry. We are recognizing these women in a regular feature in the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine and here on our blog. We want to hear from you too.
Vintage Vera is a Mobile Pop-Up Shop selling Vintage/Retro/Bohemian Fashions & Accessories out of a 1961 Glendale Glendette (made in Strathroy, Ontario) Vintage Camper NOW turned Glamper! Based out of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.
The trailer is named Vera after my Nana. My business, VINTAGE VERA, got her name in my Nana's honor. She taught me to brake for thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, auctions, junk in the road and the occasional dumpster. I was lucky enough to have her for 36 years. She actually passed away on my birthday. A big part of my LOVE (or obsession) of the old and pre-loved is because of her. Some of my fondest memories are of Saturday mornings adventures with her, my mom and aunties and whoever else wanted to tag along. When I was about 14 she gave me my first beaded vintage hand bag and the rest is history. At last count I had over 70 vintage handbags and purses...every once in a while I try to purge them and add them to my shop inventory, but I’m not very good at it!
I love vintage finds of all kinds and the hunt for the old, unexpected and unique...beautiful vintage dresses and purses, Pyrex and barware, swag lamps and quilts. I also really love old vintage camper trailers that have been restored or made into something exciting and new again. And I’m a Glamping (Glamorous Camping) kind of girl. I try and go glamping in the warmer months as much as possible with my young son, we always do at least one camping trip that is about 14 days and a few 2-3 days one as well.
Vintage Vera is a combination and dream of marrying some of my favorite things and hobbies into a small business. Something other people will enjoy and possibly even inspire them to chase or in my case tow a dream!
I have my shop on Etsy, but the only a small amount of my actual inventory makes it to the shop posting. Best way to see what I have is to come to one of my pop-up shops. You can also Like or Follow Vintage Vera on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!
AKA Vintage Vera
Vintage Vera was featured in the Vintage Camper Trailers Book. Get a copy from the authors for yourself.
The Vintage Camper Trailers Book
Vintage camper trailers are a unique symbol of midcentury America that resonates with many people. This book introduces many of those people, along with the trailers they’ve lovingly maintained or restored. It includes hundreds of photographs of everything from fancy and comfortable trailers designed for glamping (glamorous camping), to trailers handed down through families across generations.
This is our first book. (200 full color pages in hardcover.)
Paul and Caroline Lacitinola are immersed in the vintage camper trailer hobby including rescuing, restoring, and rallying. In 2011, they began publishing the first U.S.-based magazine for collectors, restorers, and admirers of American-made camper trailers. Subscribe Here
We include free stickers a bookmark and coupons with every order.
Please indicate in the notes if you would like your copy signed.
The Vintage Camper Trailer Rallies Book
A book about the history of camping clubs and trailer rallies and our story of how we got involved hosting vintage trailering events. Hundreds of photos (192 full color pages in hardback) of vintage trailers and tips and ideas on how you can host your own rally! The book features trailerites and the trailers they’ve lovingly maintained or restored.
This is our second book. See our first book here.
Paul and Caroline Lacitinola are immersed in the vintage camper trailer hobby including rescuing, restoring, and rallying. In 2011, they began publishing the first U.S.-based magazine for collectors, restorers, and admirers of American-made camper trailers. Subscribe Here
We include free stickers a bookmark and coupons with every order.
Please indicate in the notes if you would like your copy signed.
Over 34 years of saving lives
It was quickly realized that this safe ride service needed to be free. Many intoxicated people didn’t want to go home until they were out of money. We needed to get their cars home too (no I would not leave my car behind as I need it in the morning!) The International Good Samaritans Safe Ride Program (IGS) plan was to start a 501c3 nonprofit charity and provide two sober drivers per team, one IGS driver to follow the other IGS driver in the intoxicated driver's car along with the intoxicated person and all their friends to point the way home (not always easy but always free!)
Many regulations and much attention was given to this new safe ride start-up program, and many bars, their patrons, and the police watched to see what was going to happen with this new idea.
Miracle of miracles! The Program worked! During the first 10 years of service more than 50,000 carefully documented safe rides were given to intoxicated drivers and their intoxicated passengers, and their cars were safely delivered home by a small group of dedicated sober (My turn to drink, Your turn to drive) volunteers. For the first time in Tahoe history, DUI deaths and DUI crashes decreased as reported by the South Tahoe Police Dept.
Now for The FUN part of this story! To keep these safe rides free, IGS decided to host an annual fundraiser based on the 50’s lifestyle and 50’s cars and call it Cool September Days Car, Truck, Motorcycle and Vintage Camper Show. Along with an old car show, IGS would put on a 50’s style Sock Hop with dance, dress-up and hairdo contests and at mid-night at the Hop as a grand prize IGS would give away a locally donated and restored old car on a $1 raffle ticket.
A lot of things have changed over the past 30 years but the Good Samaritans Safe Ride Program is still alive and well in Tahoe and the 30th annual Cool September Days Car Show was held at the South Lake Tahoe Heavenly Village shopping center on September 18-20, 2015.
Over the 30 years of this safe ride programs history, many different cars, trucks, and motorcycles have been located, donated, and restored to be used in IGS’ fundraiser raffles, from a 1953 Buick Special in 1986, to a 500hp Ford PU and new Harley in 2002, to a grand prize of a 1953 Chevy Sedan Delivery with a new teardrop trailer all set up to go camping in 2010.
IGS volunteers would like to invite everyone with an interest in vintage cars and/or campers or motorcycles to come to Lake Tahoe for the day or for one of our weekend shows at the Heavenly Village Shopping Center (near the Gondola). This package will be given away October 18th, 2020.
To date, more than 100,000 intoxicated drivers and their friends have been delivered safely home in the Tahoe area and much effort has been made to help start safe ride programs in other cities all around America. Many lives have been saved and many millions of dollars of damage has been avoided thanks to your generous donations for raffle tickets or when you attend one of our Car Shows. Get your raffle tickets here.
Thank you for 34 years and counting!
Tom and Polly Argo
PO Box 7007, Stateline NV 89449
In 1954 Chris-Craft astonished just about everyone when they introduced their new Land Cruiser Kit, a 14-foot mobile home that would sleep four adults. The kit contained everything from a steel chassis, aluminum roof covering, aluminum frame windows with screens, to wheels and a hinged door with lock.
In issue #49 of the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine we featured a 1948 Horner & Thatcher Trailer Boat Prototype. Like a Trailorboat or KomPaK, the Thorner & Thatcher toted its boat upside down on top of its teardrop sized trailer. While researching “boat trailers” for the feature in the magazine, we stumbled on a boat company that offered a camping trailer along with their famous wooden boats. Since the product was so unique, Chris-Craft formed the Land Cruiser Kit Division just to accommodate the new product.
An article at the time proclaimed the following:
Think of it! Now you can own your own mobile home. You can go wherever you want, whenever you like, without the fuss and bother of stopping at expensive hotels and restaurants. You can follow your heart to new fun and adventure - and take your home right along with you!
The new Land Cruiser Kit by Chris-Craft makes all this possible. Now - for the first time! - anyone who can afford to drive an average car can afford this big, comfortable mobile home.
Finished in gleaming aluminum, with an all steel chassis. the Land Cruiser is a full 14-feet overall Inside, there's plenty of room for a double bed, a dinette that converts into another bed, a heating unit and cook stove, refrigerator, closets and cupboards
The Land Cruiser peaked our interest in trailers that were either offered in kit forms or built from plans. We are looking for history, literature, or information on these types of trailers for an upcoming issue of the VCT Magazine. If you own one or have anything to contribute, let us know. email me
More Photos of a Chris-Craft Land Cruiser: http://woodenrunabout.com/projects/1954-chris-craft-land-cruiser
I was looking on the back roads up by Reed City, Michigan, and saw some old campers. I liked the look of this one the best. It had been used as a chicken coop with no interior at all. I couldn't find any information on it. I happened to find out what it was when I was looking at a West Michigan Vintage Boats type of club on Facebook. I paid $300 for it, which was way too much, I thought, but I liked it. The guy thought I was buying it to make a small hauling trailer. Mine is in a little rougher shape than the other Cruisers that have been found, but it's still a unique little gem.
Big Rapids, West Michigan
I had read an article 8 or 9 years ago about the Chris Craft Land Cruiser that the co-owners, Mike Teusink and Kirk Wingard, had found and restored. After fully restoring theirs, I “heard” that they acquired a second one only 10 miles from their shop. I had lunch with Kirk at an ACBS event in Cassopolis in April 2017, and had asked if their shop had to restore the second one before they were ready to sell it. Kirk said, “No!” so, for about a year and a half, I continued to think about it and finally decided, “If I don’t get this camper now, I might lose my opportunity.” It made its debut at our house on Christmas morning 2019 nestled in the pines by a campfire. I’ve completed the interior, and it’s now in usable condition. The next task is polishing the aluminum. Our family has owned a wooden boat since 1973, built by Chris-Craft employee. I’m from Algonac, Michigan, home of Chris-Craft, so this purchase is very meaningful for many reasons. We now have a group of 13-14 campers and hope to do a reunion of sorts at the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s Michigan Chapter’s “Where it all Began” Wooden Boat show on the grounds of the original Chris Craft Plant the weekend of June 25-27, 2021,
Shelbyville, Southwest MI
I bought my trailer in Holt, Mi. in 2018, it was simply titled “Vintage camper”. Tim Heintz identified it for me and I was “off to the races” trying to track down as much info and other owners as I could; even joining some Chris Craft boat pages. I found David Irvine a few months later in a CC group and he has been my research partner ever since. We have since started a fb group for Chris Craft Land Cruiser owners. My trailer had “Peekstok” stenciled on two sides of the aluminum. While undergoing a rebuild I discovered the insulation was manufactured in Flint, MI. (these were kit trailers and you went to the local hardware store for the basics) so I figured it was a local build. I researched “Peekstok” until I was blue in the face, I finally remembered that my grandfather used to carve his ss # on everything he owned back in the 50’s, so I thought maybe it’s a last name? I joined a “finding lost friends of
Kalamazoo” page and found a relative who got me in touch with the original owners, they were ecstatic to hear the trailer was still on the road and sent me tons of old pictures including the build and camping into the 60’s. They owned it until ‘76, it was rear rended back in the 80’s and rebuilt. It is undergoing a ground up rebuild now. I used it for vintage rallies as well as family camping before it went under construction. I even found a vintage Chris Craft Cabin Boy folding bike to match the camper. These were an option on the bigger Chris Craft Constellation boats
for riding around the marinas. I use it for riding around the campgrounds and rallies, I’m looking forward to having my trailer done for the 2021 camping/rally season!
Carrie Schmidt, aka “Sakibear”
From what I remember, the trailer was found in Maryland. It was purchased by an attorney in southern California who restores Chris Craft boats. He completely disassembled it and rebuilt it from ground up. It is totally restored. There are a few very minor things I want to do to it, but nothing to change its originality. It is a museum piece for sure. Please feel free to give my contact info to any other Chris Craft Land Cruiser owner or interested party you know or meet.
Colorado Springs, CO
I needed a challenge. I had been on the hunt for a small vintage trailer to completely gut and redo. That’s when I came across a Facebook post of this little silver trailer located in Maryland. I didn’t know what it was or if it was worth anything. I was more excited of how little it was. My husband and I grabbed the trailer and were on the road. Once we got to the house where the trailer was located, I found out it had been in the family since it was assembled. The lady I bought it from inherited it from her dad. I tried to do some research on line and there was basically nothing out there. That’s when I posted on the Tin Can Tourist Facebook page and found Carrie Schmidt and David Irvine. They clued me in to just how rare it was and how neat it is to be a part of such a small community of owners. I don’t have plans to restore to original but more of a mostly white, nautical theme per say. I haven’t officially done anything with it but I can’t wait to actually get started.
This is a rare 1954 Chris-Craft Land Cruiser. We know of only five or six of these trailers in existence. Chris-Craft produced them as a kit for fewer than 6 months during the 1954 model year. We found this rare Chris-Craft Land Cruiser in northwest Minnesota. Chris-Craft produced these trailers as kits for less than one year. With the exception of the plywood floor, which we replaced, all of the components that came with the kit are still original to this trailer.
I bought the camper in early 2017 from a lady on the west coast of Florida who had it in her backyard after having it on the road for years. It now resides in my photo studio in Orlando and was once used as part of an "Indoor Camping" photo set. It is in unrestored condition but seems to be in great shape for its age so I haven't changed anything as of now. The original owner/builder looks to be from the Michigan area as there are some drawings in the owner's manual that show where some extra parts were bought. The lady I bought it from had the cushions made for the bed that you can make when you remove the table. I am looking forward to getting it on the road with my girlfriend at some point in 2021.
I was looking for a Chris Craft Land Cruiser and had heard that one was for sale in Murray, Kentucky. I contacted the owner and he stated he was in the process of restoring it, and had lost interest. I purchased it in pieces and brought it home in an enclosed trailer. It took us an hour to load it with a fourteen hour round trip to bring back to the Lake James, Indiana area where we live. I am presently in the process of reconstruction and am appreciative of all the research that other owners have been providing me with.
For the last several years I have had a big dream of turning a vintage landcruiser into a roaming sewing studio/mobil shop. I am a fashion designer and wanted to find something that I can take to craft fairs and schools all over the country. I have been searching for a canned ham style camper periodically over those years but never found anything that I particularly fell in love with. Recently, while unemployed due to Covid 19, I have been making masks, and remembered my little dream of that vintage landcruiser. I typed canned ham camper into my internet search engine and this one magically appeared on Ebay!! I read the details, then looked at the location, and much to my delight it was located only 30 minutes away from me. I thought this must be ment to be!! I traveled to John Parello's home and checked it out. I contemplated it for a little over a week, found a friend to look at it with me and commit to helping me fix her up, and then purchased her on Memorial Day.
I am very excited to tackle this project. I am currently removing all of the walls due to mold and water damage. I am going to try to salvage what I can and keep the layout very similar to now it currently looks inside. The outside of the camper will be shined up and have a simple logo scrawled on the side. Additionally, I hope to add some awnings and a little flower box. I plan to sew the awnings, and do the upholstery work myself and my friend Chuck Downey, an engineer by trade, is excited to take it apart and put it back together, and seal her up tight, just like an original Chris Craft Landcruiser. I will be blogging the process and hope to have her road ready by summer 2021.
Miranda Kay Levy
I found my Chris Craft Land Cruiser on eBay and purchased it after a short negotiation. It is currently in Arizona to be picked up soon to bring home to California.n I’m looking forward to learning more about our special trailers and doing a ground up restoration/rebuild. We are familiar with vintage trailers and have a 1956 Santa Fe that was completely rebuilt.
A recent purchase from a neighboring town about 20 minutes north from where I live in beautiful south central PA. With no camper on my mind, I was scrolling through Facebook and a local business posted a photo of the exterior buffing. My exact words on the post were “I want that!”. Of course I fell in love. The seller’s information was passed on to me and within weeks the deal was made! Previous to me Joe Faulkerson owned and restored this 1954 Chris Craft #LC 297. He did many upgrades including electric. The camper still features the original porcelain gas range, sink, and quaint refrigerator all still in working order. Not to mention the click-clack bed, sconces, the cast dolly wheel, and the cork screw jack are all original as well. There are many ideas and plans to take my children along in the coming years to adventure and make memories. We’ve used this as our weekend “getaway” in the yard for the past several weeks. It serves well as a quiet reading place or the perfect place to make a batch of pancakes on a Sunday morning. As of this writing I’m on my first official camping trip of the year at Lake Raystown in Entriken, PA. A few places I plan to take my camper this year are Shenandoah National Park Virginia, and Letchworth State Park New York. As well as and other local places. A close friend gifted me with vintage Impko window decals thus creating my Chris Craft bucket list. I’m elated to be part of the community of Chris Craft Land Cruisers!
Bonnie Sue Casey
Roaring Springs, PA
I was not looking for a vintage camper. My parents and I had just finished renovating a 1969 Nomad travel trailer, and I thought I was done with anything that needed the kind of constant love and maintenance an old camper often requires. Two days after selling the Nomad, my dad forwarded an email about a rare Chris Craft camper for sale in Colorado Springs; after seeing photos, I had to have it. Its former (and second) owner, a member of the Colorado Springs chapter of the Antique Boat Society, had restored the original interior in the last decade - it was in great condition and had retained that vintage boat cabin feel. And so in July of 2014 I became the excited new owner of a 1954 Chris Craft travel trailer. Since then we’ve had lots of memorable adventures around our home state of Colorado, as well as Utah, New Mexico, and even Lake Tahoe. Six years in, we have a laundry list of maintenance items that need to be addressed, including water damage in the rear - a project my husband Jay would love to avoid by finding the Chris Craft a new home. I sometimes pretend that I’d consider selling, but it’s almost certain that he’s stuck with this cool piece of history for the long haul.
Meghan Grabow Wright
I saved this Chris Craft from being scrapped. The inside needs to be rebuilt. The outside is straight.
This is Tim Nickerson’s Parent’s trailer. It is stated that it is a 1953 Red River Manufacturing Trailer out of Moorhead, Minnesota. It looks very similar to the Land Cruiser. A possible theory is they purchased the kits from Chris Craft and then sold them assembled under their own name.
This article lists the 14 known Chris Craft Land Cruiser Campers known to exist. My 8th Grade History Teacher and friend Spencer Adkins, Sr. knew I had acquired this camper and found an original 50-page instruction manual that no one knew existed. His wife Mary (Ames) Adkins had a brother who worked for the “kit” division of Chris Craft Boats and may have been involved in the design. I have shared the manual, affectionately known as “the holy grail” with the 14 owners, as well as the Mariners Museum in Newport News, VA. It has been fun to research and meet these owners since acquiring mine a short 18 month ago.
Issue # 50 of The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine features the Chris-Craft Land Cruiser Trailers.
If anyone has any information on the Chris-Craft Land Cruisers, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 269/664-5274 (evenings). We will add the information to our database. David Irvine
This Westcraft Capistrano is the brilliant result of more than a decade of meticulous restoration, craftsmanship, and modernization. It is the largest and most rare model that Westcraft ever offered The 'Capistrano' is 33 feet long and features a Pullman roof (commonly referred to as a trolley top). Flanked with seven windows on each side, the raised center of the ceiling provides 6'4" of headroom. You would be the talk of the rally if you showed up in this one! Sound like fun? You'll be glad to know that this trailer is for sale.
When the current owner purchased this rare model coach, it was in poor condition. Being one of only two known to exist, he felt the trailer deserved a restoration by a team of some of the best craftspeople in California to achieve the finest restoration possible. The team was led by Steven Butcher to envision a resto-mod unlike any other. Butcher brought his years of trailer and vehicle restoration experience to the project. A collector himself, Butcher's eye for design and knowledge of vintage Americana made him a worthy collaborator.
The original design was modernized to improve the coach by integrating the latest in safety features, luxury, comfort, and connectivity. The Westcraft is featured in a 6-page spread in the Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine issue #48. If you are a subscriber to the magazine you have seen many more of the incredible photos by Pawel Litwinski. A profile shot of the exterior made the centerfold!
The trailer was most recently displayed in Palm Springs at Modernism Week in February of 2020. If this was your trailer, where would you take it? Trailers of this caliber are often displayed in museums, company show rooms or on estates where they are used as a tiny house or guest home. If you are looking for a vintage trailer to camp in or go to vintage trailer rallies his one would certainly be a contender if your budget will allow you a one-of-a-kind piece of art like this one.
The Calypso boasts an audio systems that can be played independently in the living and bedrooms, utilizing individual amps to drive NHT, Focal, and Sunfire speakers. Each room has a Sony flat-screen with Bose soundbars using common connections to both surround-sound systems. Concealed throughout the trailer are USB charging sockets, Ethernet, and coaxial cables and modern grounded outlets. There is even a remote-controlled quiet and energy-efficient Duotherm heating/AC system. If you are interested in purchasing this trailer, see the ad with more details and photos here.
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