Vintage Camper Trailers: Making the Right Buying Choice

Small Camping Trailers

A small portion of RV enthusiasts purchase vintage camping trailers as a restoration project and, as an end result, will own a quality-built camping trailer with a unique charm.

The First Camper Trailers

Back in the early 1900's inventive individuals attached wooden, shed-like houses onto Model T Fords. By the 1920's, people towed "tin lizzies" behind their cars, and in the 1930's some vintage camping trailers were equipped with amenities like simple plumbing and electrical systems.

Post WWII brought about improved roads and a time of economic prosperity which stimulated manufacturing. By the 1950's, camping trailers enjoyed advancement in tow trailer designs sporting modern conveniences like refrigerators and in some trailers complete kitchens. It didn't stop there. Soon, the creature comforts typically found at home, could be found in a number of camping trailers. Travel trailer popularity increased and by the early 1960's manufacturing exploded along with the size and length of camping trailers.

Finding Vintage Camping Trailers

If you're interested in vintage camping trailers and are considering purchasing one with the intent of becoming a Tin Can Tourist, or if you look at it as an enjoyable restoration project, it is important to note that to be considered "vintage" a trailer must be 25 years old or more. The following list of vintage brands offers a place to start in helping you locate the trailer that's right for you:

Vintage Airstream Travel Trailers

Research will aid you in choosing a travel trailer right for your personality and camping needs. Today, the Internet offers several websites dedicated to those who enjoy vintage camping and to connect with others with similar interests and services.

Why Buy Vintage Trailers

Some enthusiasts buy vintage trailers for the classic look, but another benefit to owning a classic camping trailer is the quality of construction they provide. You'll enjoy hours of fun, and an opportunity to pass on lessons from the past. Back when these trailers were originally built, manufacturers used real wood instead of cheap synthetics. People lived simpler lives.

Another benefit of owning a vintage trailer is that in the long run, they increase in value. Plus, they also look great in tow.


Restoring a camper to its former glory presents an emotional reward that for some is almost spiritual. However, you'll want to be sure you have the skills necessary to complete the task. If you are inexperienced, it's wise to seek professional advice or services as you prepare to take on a restoration project. Instead of attempting to restore the camper all at once, it helps to break the restoration process into smaller projects. Plan these projects during the months when you won't be using the trailer. This keeps the trailer functional during camping season, and will encourage the long-term restoration project as you enjoy the fruit of your labor.

If you break restoration into these smaller projects, it also helps keep the cost manageable so you can have enough money to enjoy the camping season.

What to Look For

When you're in the market for a vintage trailer, you'll find there is an assortment of these classic trailers in various states of disrepair or restoration. Before you make a purchase, consider:

teardrop camper
  • How much work you want to do or are willing to pay to have done.
  • Whether or not you expect to take the trailer to use in the upcoming camping season.

As you make your decision, also consider the trailer's overall condition including:

  • What works and what doesn't function?
  • What items can be repaired?
  • What must be replaced?
  • What is the ballpark cost for repairs or restoration?

Pass It On

The tradition of family camping in trailers has been passed on from generation to generation for several decades. Whether you buy a refurbished classic trailer or a vintage trailer as a restoration project, it's a great way to build your own family camping tradition.

More Travel Trailer Information

Want to learn more about camping trailers? Check out these interesting articles!

Expandable Campers
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Vintage Camper Trailers: Making the Right Buying Choice