RVs From Back In The Day

author image

August 20, 2014

Vintage trailers continue their popularity among today’s RVers. There is a certain charm and nostalgia with vintage trailers that is hard to find with new recreational vehicles.

Tin Can Tourists, Denver, Colorado (1918)

Tin Can Tourists, Denver, Colorado (1918)

The rolling homes were small – a bed, a kitchen, and a dinette in one room. Over the decades they have expanded into today’s large-sized RVs, but there is an increasing demand for the older trailers. These vintage models are often called Canned Hams, Shiny Hineys, or Tin Cans. Whatever they may be called, classic trailers from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are rolling back into popularity.

When travel trailers first started roaming American roads, their owners were called Tin Can Tourists because they heated tin cans of food on gasoline stoves by the roadside. The Tin Can Tourists formed the first camping club in the United States, holding their inaugural rally in Florida in 1919 and growing to 150,000 members by the mid-1930s. They had an initiation; an official song, “The More We Get Together;” and a secret handshake.

Vintage style in tiny packages, teardrop trailers, around since the 1930s, are especially seeing a boom in popularity. Teardrops are streamlined, compact, lightweight travel trailers, which get their name from its teardrop profile. They usually range from 4 to 6 feet in width, 8 to 10 feet in length, 4 to 5 feet in height, and have sleeping space for two adults and a basic kitchen in the rear.

In recent years, vintage trailers have been renovated into mobile store fronts, mobile eco-homes, mobile art galleries (Happy Camper Mobile Art Gallery), mobile gourmet coffee shops (Cadillac Coffee), a mobile distillery (2 Gingers Irish Whiskey), and a bargain clothing store (Buffalo Exchange).

Have you considered a vintage trailer? People around the country are restoring and refurbishing vintage trailers in unique ways and women are finding them particularly appealing. Restoration is a slow, time-consuming process. Carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills are needed to tackle a fix-up job on these old trailers. But restoring vintage trailers is not for the fainthearted. That’s one reason Flyte Camp (Bend, Oregon) is in high demand and quickly earning a reputation as one of the best vintage RV restoration shops in the U.S. Other renovators that takes vintage trailers and brings them back to life include Retro Trailer Design (Glenwood Springs, Colorado), Hofmann Architecture (Santa Barbara, California), Mintage Airstreams (Missoula, Montana), Russian River Vintage Travel Trailers (Guerneville, California). Prices for restored vintage trailers vary wildly, depending on the age, the condition of the exterior shell, and the extent of the interior design. Is the iconic Airstream a bit too passé for your tastes?

The 1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer is up for auction. Designed in San Carlos, California, by an engineer of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, this trailer was custom-built for famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, hence its name. Buying this legend’s trailer, however, won’t come easy on the wallet. The 1939 Lindbergh travel trailer is expected to fetch anywhere from $150,000-200,000. The 1939 Charles Lindbergh Travel Trailer is part of the Maranello Rosso Collection that will be auctioned at the 17th annual Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, California, August 15.

Leave a Reply

1 comment

  1. Brooker Smith

    If you do a Bing or Google search for vintage/old campers or rv's and click on pictures before you search you will finds tons of these and they are fun to look through