Vintage travel trailers; great investment, and, total class in campgrounds!

Hunter Compact II, made in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s, feature a pop-up center roof that allows 6'2" standing room, but a very low profile when towing.

Our 1958 reproduction Scotty Junior teardrop, in front of St. George Lighthouse in Florida.

1960s Airstream Caravelle, towed by a 1950 Pontiac "woodie" makes a true classic combo!

Casita trailers, made new today, also offer a wide range of used models, many in almost perfect condition (see Craig's List or eBay)!

1955 DeVille is a well-made and highly sought after model from 60-some years ago!

1965 Serro Scotty Sportsman offers low profile, sleeping for up to four adults.

New Shasta Airflight, reissued by Shasta just in the last year, is similar to vintage Shastas from the 1960s.

Last week, my travel blog featured a half-dozen vintage travel trailers we recently toured at a classic trailer rally at Lake Tahoe in June.

We have owned two tiny teardrop trailers; our first was a cute little reproduction Kit Kamper, popular after World War II and one of the more frequent teardrop trailer styles seen today. The Kit was built on a platform of 4’X8’ plywood sheets; hence, 4’ wide, 4’ tall and 8’ long, with a 6’ sleeping compartment and a rear galley for camping storage.

Several years ago, we decided to up-size, and bought a slightly larger 1964 Serro Scotty Sportsman trailer, still teardrop in style and needing a complete rebuild. This larger retro trailer offers a dinette, sleeps 3-4, with an interior sink, two-burner stove and stand-up room for someone 5’8” or shorter – my wife!  And, this smaller classic will still fit in a standard garage (barely), important if you live in a homeowner’s association!

Procrastinating on the rebuild of the larger Scotty (now wedged in our garage), I purchased (through eBay) a beautiful reproduction 1958 Serro Scotty Sportsman Jr. teardrop, built in 2011. We have toured extensively with it, including two trips across the country, trips up the CA/OR and WA coasts to Vancouver, BC, and assorted other western trips to national parks like Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Pinnacles, Glacier and more.

The arguments for a vintage teardrop trailer include small and lightweight (about 800 pounds), so a small car can tow it and deliver good gas mileage (we tow ours with a Ford Focus 5-speed stick and get 26 MPG). They fit in your garage, the smallest campsites and vintage trailers are always the “talk of the campground”!

Stepping up to mid-size classic trailers (1000 to about 2500 pounds) offers scores of options. From Scotty’s, Lil Loafers, Boler, Little Caesars to larger Aristocrats, Shastas, Airstreams, Kenskills, Boles and the like, a wide variety of lengths, weights, floorplans and luxurious appointments await the discriminating buyer. Since they are larger, they offer more interior space and many more amenities – the trade-offs are they weigh more, reducing your towing gas mileage (you will need a more powerful tow vehicle) and you have to store them somewhere.

Some of our favorite trailers seen in recent years include:

Hunter Compact II, made in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s, these fiberglass trailers have a pop-up center roof that allows for 6′-plus stand-up room, as well as a low profile when towing.  This one cost the owner $2,500; he did minor work, added a new paint job and has a roomy, light trailer (seen in Glacier Park, 2014).

Airstream Caravelle, from the 1960s, pulled by equally classic auto: The smaller Airstreams are highly sought after; they offer plenty of interior space, marvelous aerodynamics and light weight.

Casitas (as well as Burro, Boler and other similar brands) have been around for 30-some years, offering light weight, fine aerodynamics and plenty of room for couples with small kids.

1955 DeVille is a classic teardrop-style trailer that fetches admirers and a good price on the resale market.

1965 Scotty Sportsman (similar to our 64 Scotty awaiting a re-build in my garage) were popular from 1958, when the company started with small teardrop trailers, then went with the larger Sportsman models starting in 1960.  Today, Scotty rallies occur all over the country and the National Scotty Owners Association sports hundreds of members throughout the US, Canada and other countries!

New, or old Shasta Airflight: Just reissued by Shasta in the last year, these new trailers are made in same style as the 1960’s Shasta; both vintage and new models are very popular!

We also equipped all our trailers with a rear bike carrier receiver, so we can load 2-3 bikes on back.  With bedding already made up, camp gear loaded, it’s a simple matter to pack a cooler and your clothes, hook up and away we go!

Rebuilding a classic trailer can range from $1000 up to $10,000, or, you can choose to buy one that an owner has already rebuilt or upgraded. Prices for a fully rebuilt midsized classic can range from about $7500 to $15,000, plus or minus. Nicely, the true classics can usually be sold years later for as much, or more, than you paid for them.

To find your vintage trailer, check both Craig’s List and eBay (search for tear drop, teardrop and vintage campers). Remember, however, if you find a trailer that has water damage or dry rot, the damage is usually many times greater than can easily be seen from the exterior, so beware!

The web also features varied companies that rent teardrops or old classics for a few days or a week. Try one out, you may become hooked on the comfort afforded and hard-sided security, vs. tent-camping.

For more information: A variety of classic trailer web sites offer insights into buying or rebuilding, including Tin Can Tourists,  on the web at tincantourists.com, Shasta Trailers, vintageshasta.net and Serro Scotty trailers, nationalserroscotty.org. Pick a classic, and you can find an owner’s group for most!

For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: http://blogs.eSanJoaquin.com/Valley travel; to contact me, tviall@msn.com.

Happy travels in the West!

This entry was posted in Central California, Midwest US, Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Southeast US, Southern California, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County, Teardrop and tiny travel trailers, United States beyond! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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