Story and photos by Ken Freund
Many of us remember trailer camping with our families when we were kids, and many of us continue to enjoy a relaxing weekend in the great outdoors — often in a vintage trailer. A growing number of pickup truck owners are collecting, restoring and using vintage camper trailers on a regular basis. In fact, many vintage trailers are light enough for six-cylinder half-ton pickups to haul safely.
Part of this hobby's appeal is its simplicity: Since trailers have few moving parts and no drivetrain, they're fairly easy to repair and maintain. Most do-it-yourselfers who take care of their own vehicles can perform simple trailer repairs and maintenance. Prices can range from entry-level to five figures for rare, pristine and highly sought-after models. If you're willing to put some sweat into a fixer-upper, you can save a bunch of money and begin your restoration education.
We recently attended a small vintage recreational vehicle show at the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, Calif., where we chatted with some of the owners displaying their "babies." They all seemed to enjoy the camaraderie and friendships they've formed among vintage trailer enthusiasts.
One of the couples at the Murphy show was Liz and Barry Marks of Santa Ynez, Calif. They were showing their recently acquired 1954 Boles Aero Mira Mar 19-foot trailer. The Marks also own a 1955 Cardinal and a 1955 Terry trailer; they like to rescue vintage trailers to prevent them from being scrapped or destroyed by weather or vandals. If they don't have room for them, then they try to find a good home for them, sort of like pet adoption.
Interested? There are vintage trailer shows all over the U.S. Many trailers at these shows are available for sale as owners are always looking for that next big project or to move up to another model. To find out more, visit the Tin Can Tourists website, which includes classified ads, event calendars and links to camper trailer restoration resources.