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.
The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine Blog
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