By Tony Barthel
There are plenty of examples of “retro-style” trailers that have come and gone. I believe most of them have gone because they just seem like a cheesy imitation of the original. That is not true of the new Holiday House line of trailers which includes the Holiday House 18RB, a very close replica of the highly collectible Holiday House trailers of the early 1960s.
One of the reasons I think that most of the retro trailers have gone by the wayside is that, while their styling had been eye-catching, the quality was often disappointing. Thus customers who had them would have a chance to tell the story of how much they liked them and the complaints would flow.
Furthermore, not all of the reproduction looks even were all that convincing, so now there was not much reason to recommend them.
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The Holiday House trailer is a true heir to the Holiday House name in every way but is actually better built than those original trailers. While the originals were framed in wood and skinned with aluminum, these new versions are completely framed in welded aluminum including the chassis itself and all the framing and chassis components are made in-house right down to the entry steps.
The exterior screams vintage/retro as does the interior. Instead of swooshes and swirls and stickers making up the exterior, there is a beautiful combination of painted and clear coated aluminum panels and even matching painted steel wheels with baby moon hubcaps. To my eye, it’s a refreshing difference whether you like vintage trailers or not.
Inside, the walls are covered in vintage-looking birch paneling and cabinetry that makes it feel inviting. The paneling and cabinets are all actual wood instead of being a man-made substance with a wood-look sticker on it.
But despite the vintage appearance, this trailer really features a lot of very modern in-demand features like MaxxAir fan, air conditioning, plenty of 110vac wall outlets including some with USB charging ports, power awning and pretty much all of the features you normally find in a modern RV.
So is this a travel trailer that you’d buy for logical reasons like build quality and value for the money or because of your sense of style? Yes.
The layout of this new trailer and the vintage ones on which it was patterned features a front dinette surrounded by the huge windows that are the hallmark of this design. Out back is a gaucho couch that is built in-house and flips down to form a bed.
By design, this trailer can accommodate four adults, but all sleeping surfaces are multiple-use so the rear gaucho is a seat by day and the bed in front is the dinette by day.
While the beds may do double-duty, the bathroom is a dry bath featuring a porcelain toilet and full shower. There is no sink, but one is close by in the kitchen.
Considering that this is a relatively small trailer, the original designers back in the 1960s and the company today have done a pretty good job of space utilization. Any of these are always a compromise between sleeping space and day use, which is one of the challenges of shorter trailers.
In the plus column for smaller trailers are the maneuverability and towability – life is always about compromises. There’s good news for those who like this style quite a bit but want something larger – the company has three larger two-axle models that offer the same style in a longer trailer. We’ll have a review of one of those, the 24TB, in an upcoming article.
But this trailer is not about compromising on quality – so while it won’t be the cheapest trailer on the lot, it may still be here in the future and could well be as collectible then as its predecessors are today.
Editor: Click here to see the Holiday House 18RB floor plans.
I have a friend who’s HH trailer is a true failure. The frame broke on the first trip, took a year to get fixed after fighting with HH. Since its return had many warranty issues that HH will not cover. Besides having a cool retro look, would not recommend spending that kind of money on anything from them.
This is exactly what happened to us. Almost thought I knew you. Our HH literally fell apart while we were towing her after only 12 hours of actual towing as we are weekend campers. The axel pulled away from the frame and the wheels came right through the floor! Then it broke right down the middle. They had it for almost a year and we were fearful to talk, afraid they wouldn’t honor the five year warranty which we never got. Finally get her back with continued warranty issues. Everything needed to be recaulked as there were leaks and thankfully our dealer checked it all over well as the gas wasn’t even hooked up right and would’ve leaked if we turned it on. Today we are told they aren’t honoring our warranty claims. Please contact me as I didn’t know anyone else’s camper broke. They told us a lame story. Others are also having some serious issues and we may be getting a class action suit.
We bought one of these beauties last year and absolutely love it! We have the 24TB. Perfect layout for my husband and me. We love the quality of the build and the functionality of the layout. And it’s a great conversation starter – sometimes we barely get it parked at the campsite before it starts attracting admirers!
Very fond memories of when we first started camping in the late 60s. Waiting for, and wanting the follow up on the larger HR trailers. Enjoyed very much.
That’s a cool trailer, but this is a general request for these reviews: PLEASE make the floor plan larger, clickable, or both.
Hi, Scott. Great suggestion. I think Tony usually includes the floor plans, and I’ve reminded him to link them to our Media Library so they can be clicked to enlarge. On this Holiday House 18RB post, I’ve just gone in and added a link at the bottom that goes to their webpage with the floor plans. I’ve also requested that Tony include a link to the website for each RV he writes about, per requests from readers. We’re working this out (i.e., improving this feature) as we go. Thanks for your patience, and suggestions, in the meantime. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com
You’re welcome, Scott. Have a great day, and stay healthy. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com
Sexy! I had one in Phoenix in 93. I bought, cleaned up and used a couple of years and the tow vehicle was a 79 Lincoln Continental. Then sold her to someone in Colorado. The front window was original so they obviously held up well in travel. Surely these will 40s-60s thousands of dollars maybe more. Brings back great memories from childhood into adulthood.
This reminds me of the Holiday Rambler (25′) we had when I was a kid back in the early ’60s.
I love it. Brought back memories of our trailer camping in the 50s and 60s. Dad had 4 trailers over his lifetime with front dinette and windows and never had to replace one. He even laid one over on it’s side and no windows broke – solid built in the 50s. That is a whole other story.
I love the styling of the retro trailers, this one included, but they all have one BIG problem. If you just use them to camp locally they are great, but if you plan to put on a lot of miles they fall flat. They are well built as far as we can see, but aerodynamically they are gas hogs. The styling that we love plows thru the atmosphere like a tank. When I was hauling trailers these would cut my gas mileage by two to three miles per gallon. I could pull a large toy hauler and get 8 to 10 mpg, a vintage style trailer would get 6 to 8 mpg. Bear that in mind if you consider purchasing one of these beauties. By the way my tow truck was a diesel dually Chev 2008.
Unfortunately all RVs are like towing a barn through the wind. I don’t think there would be an appreciable difference in this versus most other travel trailers. I can imagine that you have enough torque on that dually that this trailer isn’t going to even be felt back there and what a beautiful thing to see in the rear-view mirror!
I’m going to learn more about these trailers. I’d like to see a 30 footer.
I really like the dinette area but how often would you be replacing those front windows?
I know a few folks with vintage Holiday House trailers and they hold up surprisingly well. That was my thought as well but they actually seem to be fine.
I agree. I guess that’s where it’s not quite vintage. Many of the older trailers had fiberglass rock guards that would come down during travel and protect the windows. They would flip up and offer sun protection while stationary.