While I write a daily RV review here at RVtravel.com, 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.
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.