Saturday, September 30, 2023


For sale: Super sketchy vintage camper conversion. Don’t try this at home!

While I write a daily RV review here at, I also love vintage RVs. In fact, I’m in the middle of restoring one myself with my own vintage camper conversion. So when Chuck Woodbury suggested that I look at this vintage RV listing on eBay, it made me think this might be something fun to do on a regular basis. What do you think? 

If you don’t already know, there is a huge culture of people who love vintage RVs of all sorts. There are also clubs, organizations, and social media groups about them as well. If you have a specific brand or are interested in a specific brand, there’s likely a club for it. Those clubs can be a great place to start with any restoration or to seek knowledge. 

What is this vintage camper conversion?

This thing looks like it’s been cobbled together with various parts. It starts with what is called a Chevrolet “flat face” chassis, which is essentially just the hood and engine. The rest of the chassis is bare and ready for work. It wasn’t uncommon that this would be a source of running gear for a company in this era. But it appears that this is a custom build. 

To confirm my suspicions I contacted noted vintage RV expert Tim Heintz of Heintz Designs, who is probably the leading authority on vintage RVs. He confirmed what I already suspected. 

Custom RVs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but this project has a whole lot of bad juju. I think the seller might have champagne dreams about selling this. He’s also perhaps a little bit liberal with questionable substances if he thinks there’s someone out there with $6,000 who would want to take this beauty home. Why do I write that? 

Is this vintage camper conversion even safe?

Let’s first talk safety. The seats in this thing appear to be factory models with integrated seat belts. If that’s the case, who knows what they’re bolted into. Could be the metal frame, but it appears that it might be the wooden subfloor. One good thump and those seats would become dislodged. 

Even if it were the metal frame, the fact that there is so much rust on the edges of the hood makes me wonder just how much rust is hidden underneath. If rust is all over the underside, you’re looking at trouble. 

That reflects also in the ceiling over the bed that’s coming apart. 

The exposed wiring that’s tacked to the ceiling is another thing that makes me scratch my head. I mean, sure, it’s good if you need to service the wiring. Perhaps tracking short circuits is made easier by having the wiring on display but, well, it’s also troubling to my mind. 

Since water might be the source of the rust on the hood of this beast, it’s also likely the source of what looks like rot around the window edges. 

Also, what in the wide, wide world of sports are the wires that run between the taillights and the bumpers? 

While it’s clear that this originally had a propane-electric fridge, like so many vintage RVs, it has been replaced with a bar-sized refrigerator. This one is a Haier and it does fit nicely into the space. 

Vintage restorations

I would say that this would be a very, very bad investment for $6,000. From what I can tell, this might have started life as a vintage travel trailer, but, from there, all bets are off. 

Interestingly, while it might seem like a foreign idea to people who don’t live in the vintage world, cabover travel trailers weren’t unheard of. The idea was that the cabover section hung over the trunk of the car it was being towed with, which also offered that space for sleeping. Holiday Rambler did, indeed, make cabover travel trailers. 

As someone restoring a vintage trailer, it’s not a cheap endeavor. While I bought mine for a pittance, I have since spent several thousand dollars on period-correct pieces to restore it and haven’t even gotten into the paint yet, which is also expensive. 

However, the seller of this rig does indicate that they would take some interesting vehicles in trade including a Bricklin, the failed 1970 sports car brand that preceded the DeLorean, another failed 1970s sports car. Who knows? Perhaps if you have a Bricklin sitting around and prefer a really, really sketchy camper, this could be for you. 


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


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Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine
1 year ago

Nice vintage housecar.

1 year ago

Did anyone else see that C20 badge? That would make it a 3/4 ton. C10-1/2 ton, C20-3/4, C30-1 ton.

1 year ago

Ok Guys… It was built on a 3/4 or 1 ton chassis not a 1/2 ton unit. The size of the hub caps on this unit are an indication of such as 1/2 ton chassis has a smaller diameter wheel center. The year is between 1963 to 1966 and is a Chevy not GMC. It was called a “chassis mount” manufactured by companies that made slide in pickup campers and travel trailers. My family purchased a new 1961 Chevy 1/2 ton 6cyl.3sp.stick pickup and a new Phoenix 8ft. pickup camper. It took us up into Canada one summer and we owned it for many years. You didn’t have or think about the safety features we now have. Us kids always rode back in the camper when in route and guess where we always wanted to ride, right up in that over cab bunk! Just think that if we had been in an accident, we would have been first at the scene. Can’t give a guess as to who might have built this one but I’d guess it wasn’t “homemade”. Yea, $6,000.00 is maybe a little steep, but you have to start some where.

1 year ago

I just finished your article on cargo carrying capacity and RV’s being overloaded. I was surprised you did not address that issue with this vintage conversion. This is built on a C10 chassis which is a 1/2 ton pickup. This chassis is GROSSLY overloaded and would be dangerous to drive down the highway.

1 year ago

The pic with the hood & chassis (#2) shows that the original chassis was from a 1970-1972 Chevrolet (or possibly GMC) truck. Brief glance at interior: steering wheel is older, but glove box also looks to be ’69-’72 style. Wonder why it was swapped with an older Chevy front end.

1 year ago
Reply to  Walt

The picture of the “flat face” chassis was used for reference only. It is NOT the actual chassis that was used for this conversion. That picture is of a 1 ton chassis from the 70’s. This conversion was done on a 1966 C10 (1/2 ton pickup). If the conversion had been done on a 1 ton chassis, it might be worth restoring as it could be road-worthy. The C10 chassis of the mid 60’s had a very limited weight carrying capacity. This conversion would be dangerous if actually driven on the highway. The C10’s brakes would be incapable of stopping all that weight.

Tom H
1 year ago

It’s a big NO for me but I guess there’s someone out there, maybe with more money than sense, who is willing to invest in making this something to be proud of. I suspect it will cost a lot more than the $6k asking price.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tom H


You said “Who is willing to invest in making this something to be proud of”.

You should have said “Who is willing to SPEND in making this something to be proud of”.

“Invest” by definition means there is an expectation of a positive return on that “Investment”.

All you are gonna do with this “Vintage RV” like most vintage RV’s is SPEND, SPEND & SPEND SOMEMORE!

Last edited 1 year ago by bull

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