By Tony Barthel
There are a lot of ways to interpret the same thing. A big example of that is anything related to politics. Or RVs. With that in mind, I looked at the 2021 Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser 23TWS.
Gulf Stream’s Vintage Cruiser line is a series of lightweight, aluminum-framed, vacuum-laminated trailers that might appeal to those who like a more traditional style. It’s an interesting dichotomy because traditional trailers are generally wood framed with an aluminum skin, but Gulf Stream has taken a different tack.
This trailer features a twin bed arrangement much like you might see in an episode of I Love Lucy. Ricky and Lucy never shared the same bed, at least on the show. But this kind of arrangement is good for couples who prefer to not sleep with the cover-stealing spouse or could be used for friends going camping together.
For those who do want a larger bed, there is a provision to put a panel between the individual mattresses at the front and create one very large king-sized bed.
This model is also very similar to the company’s 23RSS, which is the same floor plan but with a proper queen-sized bed instead of the two twins.
As with a few of the trailers I’ve looked at recently of similar design, a bathroom effectively bisects the trailer with the toilet and sink on one side and a shower on the other. That shower has a z-folding sliding shower door. There is also a curtain to close off the bedroom from the split bathroom and a proper door to close off the whole bathroom area from the main living space of the trailer.
One of the things that sets the Vintage Cruiser line apart from some other brands is that the interior reminds me more of an old-fashioned diner than any modern trailer. The upholstery is two-tone on the couch, which faces the kitchen, as well as the dinette. That upholstery is available in either crimson and cream or turquoise and cream vinyl.
Whichever of the two you choose there are matching accents along the slide room, and the door of the refrigerator, which is a gas-electric, has a matching insert as well. Lastly, the counter top is finished with a color-coordinated strip along the edge to complete the look.
I showed this to a few people and the polarized mix of responses was surprising. People either gushed over the look or absolutely disliked it. I guess it’s good to stand out in the field as there are so many RVs out there, if you had one of these you could easily point it out to someone who wasn’t an RV enthusiast and they’d recognize it right away.
Outside the retro colors continue with all trailers being white as the base but then a turquoise or crimson accent color to match the interior sets that off. Additionally, the chassis painted to match as well as the steel wheels and baby moon hubcaps all accentuate those along with whitewall tires. Again, it really stands out from the crowd.
If that’s not enough stand-out for you there is a third exterior option in simulated wood grain stickers much like the simulated wood grain on all those station wagons of the 1960s and ‘70s. As much as I’ve griped about stickers as a decorative item in RVs, I had actually considered buying some of this wood grain material and using it on my own travel trailer as we go to vintage cars shows.
Well, we used to. There aren’t any shows at the moment. And my wife wasn’t so keen on the wood grain idea.
I like that it seems that the whole trailer is fully accessible even with the slide room, in so packing or a quick pit stop doesn’t force you to open the slide.
For those who choose the wood grain exterior decor, it comes with a knotty pine interior decor that I was quite enamored with. I think the company’s standard interior is pretty anonymous aside from the turquoise or crimson aspects, but the knotty pine is very attractive to me.
With the retro theming aside, there are a lot of actual logical reasons to look at this design. Gulf Stream vacuum laminates their walls with an Azdel substrate. The exterior baggage compartments all feature slam latches and magnetic catches but the best thing, for some, might be that the interior ceiling height is 6’11” at the peak. In addition to that, the beds are full 80” twins, so these trailers are well suited for taller travelers.
As part of the company’s quality control, each trailer is subjected to a leak test before leaving the plant, where the trailer is sprayed with a soapy liquid and then pressurized. If there were to be a leak it would show up as bubbles under inspection.
What I didn’t like in these was pretty minor, but worth noting nonetheless. The air conditioner in this 23’ trailer is not ducted and I could see that the bedroom wouldn’t be as chilled as the main living space. Also, this uses the 16” oven which I think is pretty worthless – either give me the option of the larger oven or the option of not having one altogether.
Interestingly, Gulf Stream is a privately held company. Whether this has any value to you is your own decision, of course. The family has built a golf course, clubhouse and recreation area behind the factory for visitors and team members to enjoy.
If the retro look is not to your taste, Gulf Stream also makes the Vista Cruiser line, which are identical in every way but have a more traditional style.
As someone who has had a lot of vintage cars, I appreciate the vintage style, even though these are modern trailers in their build methodology. They definitely stand out in style and I personally prefer the knotty pine interior which you can get even if you don’t choose the woody exterior style.
Also, if the vintage style is for you there’s also the modern version of the Holiday House trailer.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
Layout is actually not too bad. The garish colors are not for me, though. The freshwater tank capacity is inadequate for anything other than park camping. Plus, it seems a little pricey for some of the drawbacks Tony mentioned.