Posted by Shawn on August 19, 2016
**The Denver Modernism Show is coming up, August 26-28, so I thought I'd repost this blog about vintage trailers. Many of these trailers will be on display and available for tours at the show, so be sure to stop by (August 26-27)**
Mod Livin' would love to be at the show, but we have a very small, yet elite, staff and we will be working at the store. Stop by the showroom after you've perused the Modernism Show and the vintage trailers! Saturday hours are 10:00 am - 6:00 pm.
In case you haven't noticed, vintage camping trailers are making a huge come back. It's a personal passion of mine, and I've decided to share a bit of the frenzy with you. We currently have 3 vintage trailers. 2 are finished, and one is mid-rehab. I'll share some before and after pictures of the completed trailers below.
Most people are aware of Airstreams - the iconic silver Twinkie. But there are so many more wonderful vintage trailers out there! Now, Airstreams ARE fantastic, but to find a vintage unit that is camp-ready is monetarily out of reach for most people. We have a 1967 Airstream, and it almost ended up in the scrap heap. We had to gut the poor thing and rebuild it from the ground up....that was something we hadn't planned on, and something we had zero experience with. It is camp ready NOW, but if we knew then what we know now, we never would have taken on the challenge.
There are, literally, hundreds of different brands and models of vintage trailers. Every day I find another one that I never knew existed. Do a basic internet search and you will be amazed at the amount you find. From a tiny little 10' Bell to a monster 35' Spartan. Whatever your skill level, tow vehicle, and experience....you can find the perfect MCM tow along.
There is a fantastic and sometimes strange subculture that speaks and lives "vintage trailer-ing". Rockabilly glamour and country chic are equally represented. I think that is one of the things I love about it. All walks of life come together for a common interest - the love of vintage trailers.
So, you've decided you'd like to find a vintage trailer....what now? Obviously, Craigslist and Ebay have the most listings, but if you can't go inspect it in person, DON'T DO IT. Like everything else online, selling trailers is a big draw for low-life scammers. Always be sure you can get a clear title. yada-yada-yada. You are smart, you know. I'll tell you though, one of my favorite ways to find a trailer is to go back-alley trolling. It's kind of shady and scary, but ALWAYS interesting. You'd be amazed at the things you can find while alley trolling. Drive around rural areas - check out pastures and behind garages and barns. There are, literally, thousands of forgotten beauties out there. Obviously, you need to find the owner and inquire about the trailer...that is it's own adventure, but we've never had a shotgun in our face or been ticketed for trespassing - yet.
Now, you've found a trailer and there it sits waiting for it's close-up. Thankfully, the resources for renovating and rehabilitating old trailers are readily available. They are mostly online retailers, but you'd be amazed at the things you can buy at a big box store and retro-fit or edit to work in your vintage home on wheels. Keep an open mind and be creative! The beauty of doing it yourself, is that you can make it 100% YOURS. Vintage textiles can be difficult to find, but there are several reproduction fabrics and laminates out there, you can recreate the vintage style easily. Many people forgo the vintage style and make it a reflection of their own unique style. If you just don't have the renovation skills or time, there are businesses that specialize in bringing these vintage beauties back to life. The best way to find a reputable shop is to join a few vintage trailer clubs and ask around. I've found that this community is always happy to help. They are driven by a desire to rescue these relics of the past from the scrap heap. Facebook is full of vintage trailer groups. Most major brands of vintage trailers have their own groups - people who specialize in that particular brand. This is very helpful because all trailers are not made alike. Knowledge is a beautiful thing. Again, do some simple research and you will find what you need.
I, personally, am a member of several vintage trailer groups. I've met some of the most wonderful people! They've given advice and offered assistance every time I've needed help. This is a hobby that is not kind to sissies....get in there and get working! It's not going to fix itself. Do-it-yourself projects are a fantastic teacher. Besides....it's fun AND you are saving a precious jewel from the crusher.
These beauties are made to GO CAMPING, but it is not unusual to rescue one and place it on a piece of land as your vacation home, or park it in your back yard and make it party central. The options and possibilities are endless!
So, I know you want to see pictures. I can't blame you! I'm going to load this blog up with photos of some amazing vintage trailers. Some have been rehabbed by DIY-ers, and some have been professionally restored. A few of these are my friends trailers - wonderful people I've met through this wacky and crazy hobby. Regardless of money or talent, they are all fantastic examples of what can be achieved.
Those are just a few examples of what you can do and what kind of trailer you can find out in the wild. Do some online research and if you find a particular trailer that excites you, get on Facebook and see if they have a group. The Tin Can Tourist website features thousands of pictures and articles, and would be a great place to start.
Here are the before and after shots of our 2 finished trailers. The Airstream was daunting. We jumped in to the deep end with that one, but we made it through and love her dearly. The Holiday Rambler didn't require quite as much work, and is basically original with some updated touches.
First up, "Midge", our 1967 Airstream Globetrotter:
We thought she just needed a good cleaning, some flooring, upholstery, and curtains. WRONG. We had to gut her due to electrical issues and water damage - and it wasn't pretty:
Yeah. Our hard work and devil-may-care attitude got us through it, and she has been brought back to her former glory, albeit a more contemporary version:
Below is our 1965 Holiday Rambler. It is an 18.5' model. It did not require the amount of work as the Airstream, and is basically original. The vintage turquoise appliances work like a charm, and are my favorite feature. The beauty of this type of trailer is the birch interior.
See? Not so bad! New flooring, upholstery, curtains, exterior paint, and some minor plumbing repairs and we were ready to roll!
I would love to share pictures of our 3rd vintage beauty with you, but it is not ready for it's close up just yet. It is a 1957 Silver Streak Clipper, and it will be glorious! When it is finished, I will share her with you ;-). If you'd like to see more of our (novice) renovation experiences, visit my blog projectmidge.wordpress.com.
I am co-chair of a new trailer group, Friendly Average Campers of Colorado (we are on Facebook). We will have 10-15 of our vintage beauties on display at the Denver Modernism Show in August. Come by and tour the trailers and visit with the owners.
If you live in Colorado, you already know how lucky we are. We have so many amazingly gorgeous places to camp! Most vintage trailers were made to "dry" camp, meaning no electric or water hook ups. That opens up so many great national forest and state campgrounds to you! If you find a trailer that needs hook ups, that is ok, too. Though not as many, there are plenty of campgrounds that can fulfill that need. Having a vintage trailer is an immediate conversation starter and leads to great friendships and good times. It gives you a reason, or an excuse, to get out in the world and see what beauty lies before you. Heck, we've gone camping 30 minutes from home and had great times.
I will leave you with the most amazing and RARE vintage trailer I've ever seen....It is a 1961 Holiday House. It is perfection.