Classic and Vintage Travel Trailers – Are They Right For You?



Last week’s article explored modern small travel trailers perfect for couples or small families.

Many of you who enjoy tent or caravan camping have also spotted a fair share of vintage and classic caravans on the road and in campgrounds. Today’s article offers an overview of buying and rebuilding classic trailers, especially those from the early 1970s and up. I target those years because of both clean and streamlined shapes, and they were often built with better materials than trailers from the late 1970s to the 1980s.

ICYMI:Enjoy more comfort on your next road trip with these travel trailers

Classic trailers are growing in popularity, vintage rallies have proliferated across the West and the United States, and pent-up demand due to the pandemic makes them particularly desirable. When purchased wisely, a vintage trailer allows the owner to enjoy it for a number of years, and if sold years later it will likely recoup the price paid, if not more.

Our '58 Scotty Junior teardrop trailer in Joshua Tree National Park.

Cool classics also get you talking about most campgrounds, get you into classic trailer rallies, and you revel in the glory of enjoying a recycled product! Prices for a vintage “repair” trailer can range from $ 500 to $ 3,000 or more, depending on the job to be done. The downside can be too much reconstruction expense and a huge time investment.

As an example, eight years ago I found what I thought was a real deal on our little 64-inch Scotty Sportsman in Southern California, at just $ 900. Initially, I thought that there was water damage only at the rear and that it only needed a simple partial rebuild and a new paint. But, after discovering a hidden dry rot that required a total rebuild, I invested around 450 hours and $ 5,500 into rebuilding the trailer. Fortunately, I had the help of two practical friends and my spouse; I would buy harder for a fully reconditioned classic if I had to do it again!

If you’re looking for a vintage trailer, do a daily search for “vintage trailer” on your Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and the small pages of newspapers. Be prepared for a serious inspection; grab a friend who knows woodworking and trailers for your look-see. Look in all hidden corners and under the trailer with a flashlight – look for signs of water damage, whether it’s around the base of the walls, on the floor, around interior windows and roof joints.

A classic Shasta and its equally classic tow vehicle at the California Auto Museum.

A rule of thumb: “Whatever water damage you can find, multiply by 10”! Be warned; more than a few “trailer reconditioners” are good at paper / painting over structural challenges, so watch carefully.

Here’s a sample of the little classics we’ve seen in recent years, offering quality, collection, and the appropriate “freshness quotient”. Aristocrat, Airstream, Boler, Little Caesar, Kenskill, Lawton, Mobile Glide, Scotty, Shasta and Starcraft trailers are popular. They range in size from 13 to 25 feet in length and several, like the Scotty and Aristocrat Lo-liners, can fit into a standard garage, eliminating the need to pay for storage. A good reconditioned trailer will cost anywhere from $ 8,000 to over $ 25,000 depending on the make and model. Purchased wisely and well maintained, one can recoup the investment years later, perhaps even seeing some appreciation in value.

Serro Scotty Trailers

Our 1958 Serro Scotty Teardrop: Made in 1958 and 59 this one is a very accurate reproduction / reconstruction. We found it listed on eBay by an owner in West Virginia who started with a Scotty axle and hubcaps, and rebuilt the scale with all new materials. We have crossed the United States three times and made many trips to the western states and Canada with this little trailer. Its small size and only 850 pounds means we tow it with a four cylinder car and do 28 MPG towing, which is the envy of owners or the huge trailers and fifth wheels.

Recently our Scotty Sportsman 64 on the Big Sur Coast

Scotty Sportsman

Our 1964 Scotty Sportsman offers a lot of things packed in its 13-foot size (including the tongue): dinette seating for four, a small indoor kitchen with a two-burner stove, sink, center cupboard, and a plush bed for two in the back (only 47 inches wide, really comfortable)! Made in the ’60s to’ 80s, the Scotties maintain a national following and we have enjoyed several annual tours with the national organization.

A Corvette 57, in perfect condition!

Corvette 57

I met the owner of this cute 1957 Corvette trailer, bought for $ 600 and a two year rebuild through a labor of love. He extended the frame, re-galvanized the windows, and invested around $ 7,000 in the rebuild, including a beautiful blue and white paint job. It recently sold for over $ 12,000.

’55 Little Caesar

55 Little Caesar, weighing only 1400 pounds. The owners of Shingle Springs said, “We have only paid a few hundred dollars, invested $ 4,000 and a considerable amount of time in rehab, since the inception, but we loved the result and received a lot of compliments. “

For more information: websites offer information on buying or rebuilding, including canned tourists, tincantourists.com; Airstream, airstreamclassifieds.com; Serro Scotty, nationalerroscotty.org; Shasta, vintageshasta.net. Pick a classic and find a group of owners! To purchase lightly used or vintage trailers, regularly browse Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and the little newspaper pages.

Contact Tim at [email protected]. Have a nice trip to your world!



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