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RV Review: Salem Villa 42FLDL—Welcome in your neighborhood?

Today’s RV review is of the Salem Villa 42FLDL, a gigantic “park model” trailer. It comes with a warning, of sorts.

Some history

Back after WWII there was a lot of manufacturing going on in the U.S., as companies stopped building things for the war effort and started building things Americans wanted. But there were also firms that suddenly found that what they knew how to build, war stuff, was no longer in demand and sought out a new thing to make. 

Further, there was a lot of demand for transient workers who would work at your operation for a while and then take their skill sets elsewhere. 

As such, the number of companies building larger towable RVs was surprising. One of my favorites was the Spartan Aircraft Company, who shifted from building war birds to building travel trailers. These were beautiful trailers that still hold their value to this day with collectors. 

Over time, Spartans went from being very much travel trailers to having floor plans almost identical to the modern trailer we’re seeing here with second-floor loft bedrooms for the kiddies. 

Modern times

What we can buy new today is something like this Salem Villa 42FLDL, which is a huge bumper pull trailer that is much better suited to living its days on a permanent site than being hauled around from KOA to KOA looking for adventure. 

If you’re looking for a trailer you can plop down on a piece of property or in an RV park on a permanent basis, this might be well-suited to the task. 

What you’ll get is a huge living space with 8’6” ceilings and residential appliances. The list of residential appliances extends to the water heater, which is an electric only model here and has a 20-gallon capacity. 

I can imagine if it’s shower time and you have the eight people who can sleep here now lining up for the shower, someone’s going to get the cold shoulder … and cold everything else, for that matter. 

The kitchen is definitely worthy of full-time living or being that guest cottage where everybody descends and enjoys epic meals. There is a lot of counter space in here to do the prep. Also, there is a real oven and large microwave along with a big three-burner stovetop. 

If you are able to set this thing where the views are magnificent, you’ll certainly get to appreciate them so long as you can set this with the huge windows at the front facing whatever you want to be looking at. 

Sleeping spaces in the Salem Villa 42FLDL

The main bedroom of this unit is all the way in the back and set in a drop frame arrangement. I have never seen this in a vintage trailer with this floor plan. That drop frame gives you decent headroom in the bedroom, which features a 66” X 80” “king” bed in a slide with a dresser on the camp side.

Interestingly, the bed has a night stand on one side—but only on one side.

You’ll be sharing the bedroom with a washer and dryer—which is another thing I never saw in a vintage RV. However, I also know people who would use a washboard and the kitchen sink. We’ve become pretty spoiled!

Those who get the upper bedrooms, or loft rooms, are not what I would call spoiled. These haven’t changed much in 70 years. They are simply a mattress on the floor that you get to crawl over to. This would be fun when you’re younger, but something you wouldn’t look forward to as you age.

“Aw, man. Do I have to sleep upstairs at Grandma’s again?!

Never mind that some people live in these full time, so that’s always where you’re sleeping.

The Salem Villa 42FLDL is not super portable

As mentioned, I wouldn’t want to tote this around on the epic family adventure any time soon. These really are well-suited to finding one place and staying in that place. Period.

There is a manual tongue jack and very basic wheels and tires. Those large windows are great if you find a spot with that epic view. But I wouldn’t want to do much towing with huge, flat windows as logical, and too-handy, targets for road stuff.

Unlike in more typical travel trailers, these are not automotive-grade windshield glass.

Fair warning

Mrs. RV reviewer used to work in the planning department in the county we lived in. A surprising number of people bought these first and went and applied for permits second. That’s when they found out that, no, they weren’t allowed to just drop one of these on their property.

Now, your local county may be different and you may be able to simply buy a piece of land and put one of these on it and call it a day. But your local county may also prohibit anything that’s considered an RV from being on the property as a dwelling for any length of time.

It’s absolutely worth knowing before you plunk down many tens of thousands of dollars and discover that the dealer won’t take it back just because you didn’t do your research.

Conclusions

On this model are three—count ‘em, three—sewer hose connections. Seriously, on something this big, not figuring out how to do a better job with this is ridiculous. 

This also is built like an RV. That means the routine maintenance of exterior seals is an important factor in the longevity of this rig, just as it is with every other RV. If I were getting something like this, I might also look at a company that builds tiny homes that we saw the other day. Those are built more like houses and may not require the same amount of maintenance as a more traditional RV. 

Lastly, if you’re doing a lot of towing, perhaps a fifth wheel with the same floor plan might be the way to go. They are generally better suited to towing and moving frequently. 

However, if you have a property where you are permitted to use one of these and you have a great view, this could be a really fast and easy way to set up a great vacation home. Even if you don’t have the tow vehicle to handle these, every RV dealer out there has resources for these. So that’s not really a hurdle worth being concerned about. 

And those big windows would sure be a great way to look at a gorgeous view, if you find land with one. 

*****

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVDT1953

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Steve H
8 days ago

This is NOT a park model regardless what Salem calls it. Park models are built with specifications that are different from travel trailers, are 11-13′ wide, max. of 399 sq. ft., and must be towed by a commercial hauler. This Salem is a “destination trailer”!

John E Bloxham
8 days ago

This trailer sucks. I would never buy this layout.

Bob M
8 days ago

There is a patio door near the slide on the campside. When I was looking for property in the country years ago. I was surprised many of the properties in some areas didn’t allow trailers In the past at the Hershey RV show they had some of the nicest park models I’ve ever seen built similar to houses.

Bob p
8 days ago

The pic of the floor plan only shows an entrance door into the bedroom, is that the only way into the trailer? We live in a RV resort park in a park model with a 45’X10’ Florida room built on to the 38’X12’ park model. They’re replacing antiquated units with new ones, our daughter/SIL looked at one of the new park models without the FL room addition for $93,000 and said they’re crazy. After reading this price I guess they’re not as crazy as he thought.

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