The word ‘vintage’ strikes a chord in most of us, especially when it comes to campers as we get to see the ideas that led to the designs we see today. The days of old were rampant with an ‘anything goes’ mindset so you can’t help but look at them with admiration while shaking your head at the same time.
Today we’re bringing you ten vintage and classic campers that paved the way to the modern-day. Number ten
Number Ten German-based Austermann produced just over 1,300 units of this one from 1959 to the early ’60s with current estimates of existing models running around 50-60 depending on who you talk to.
Named the Knospe, it came in several models of varying length which were designed with tow ability in mind. The narrow footprint decreased wind resistance while increasing the driver’s view behind the vehicle.
The caravan could be expanded via a series of hand-cranked gears on each side that moved the walls outward, increasing the width to just over 7 feet. Features included a dining area with a fold-up table that converted to a sleeping area the size of a king-size mattress.
Along with the solid wood cabinetry, there was also a flush-mounted sink and a dual-burner gas cooker. The interior conveyed the style of the times, and though it wasn’t the most luxurious of campers, the unique design definitely served its purpose.
Number nine First introduced in 1963, the Scout Camper by International Harvester was built upon the existing Scout, a small two-door SUV similar to a Jeep. The camper was offered in three configurations that saw the sides fold down like wings to serve as the beds.
A foam mattress was included with a framework of steel poles and a canvas cover to provide protection from the elements. The interior could be outfitted as needed with features such as a small icebox, a sink, a stove with an oven, and a hideaway toilet.
A small dinette was directly behind the cab utilizing bench seating and a fold-down table. It was released in two-color schemes. Unfortunately, less than 100 units were produced due to a lack of orders and problems with the build quality.
Number eight What started as a project for personal use in 1947 culminated into a caravan business that is still going strong today, even though there were tumultuous times involving bankruptcies and buyouts.
First introduced in 1954 by Dutch company Kip Caravans, the Kuiken was a lightweight model intended to be towed by smaller vehicles. The roof raises at an angle to increase the headroom in the interior, which can be accessed via a rear door.
Inside is a closet sitting opposite a cooker, sink, and extendable countertop. The front of the trailer has a dinette with bench seating that converts to a king-size sleeper. The sides of the raised roof could be a choice of solid panels or a canvas that could be folded in, opening the camper to the outdoors.
Although it only offered the basic necessities, for its time it was a game-changer that saw a lot of use throughout many European countries.
Number seven First manufactured in 1946 during the post-war boom, the Higgins Camp Trailer wasn’t meant to be fancy, but it was convenient and reliable, which goes a long way for the camper who makes regular outdoor excursions.
The simple design consisted of an aluminum body that had panels folding out to each side. A series of steel poles were attached to this, forming a framework that was covered with a canvas, forming the tent, which could sleep up to four people using the included air mattresses.
When not in use, the Higgins could be stored away upright in a standard garage. Production on this one was a short run, ending in late 1947, with the last units selling in 1948.
Number six Starting production in 1956, Netherlands based Otten Caravans offered six models with the Zwerver being the one shown here.
Ottens all had a design incorporating a wood framework with a Masonite outer shell and a lifting roof. The interior offered the basics having a dinette with an adjustable table that converted to a bed.
Opposite this was a small kitchenette with removable covers that also served as extra counter space. The caravan even has a… wait for it…Dutch door, which is the coolest door ever in my humble opinion.
Number five Based out of Austin, Texas at the time, Glastron was a boat manufacturer that decided to get into the RV market, starting with this 21-foot model in 1968. The body consisted of an insulated, monocoque fiberglass shell attached to a safety cage built from 2-inch steel pipe, which was then welded directly to the chassis.
Powered by a 212 horsepower, V8 engine, it ended up around 21 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 10 feet tall. The interior offered all the amenities of home having a kitchen and dining area in the front half with a wet bath and a sleeping area in the rear that could accommodate up to six people.
Although I can’t confirm it, the word on the street is the company only produced about 200 of these over a handful of years. If that’s the case, it makes it even more of a rarity when you happen to stumble across one.
Number four After about four years of testing his prototypes during family holidays, a gentleman by the name of Constant Rousseau presented the Rapido Confort to the public in 1961. Setting it up only took a few minutes, involving nothing more than unfolding the top and locking the hard walls into place.
Doing so more than doubled the footprint of the trailer, creating a space that could easily accommodate up to four people. On one side was a dinette with a fold-down table while opposite this was a sofa running the length of the wall.
Centrally located was the cooking area having a sink and dual-burner cook top. Sleeping accommodations were made by modifying the dinette and the sofa into double beds that could sleep up to four people.
When not in use, the Comfort could be stowed away on its side in a standard garage.
Number three First coming to the scene during the travel trailer boom in the 1930s, Michigan based Kozy produced the Kozy Coach in three models of varying lengths.
The shape of the trailer was sometimes referred to as a breadbox style, a look not all too uncommon for the time. The interior layout included a parlor area in the front with sofas that converted to a full-size bed.
The back of the trailer housed the kitchen and dinette which could convert to an extra bed if needed. The one you see here uses Masonite for the exterior as there were wartime restrictions on the use of steel.
Number two Although it’s not a production model, I had to include this one on here due to the ingenuity of it all. The Road Yacht is a fitting name as it’s built around a 1971 Neoplan Skyliner bus.
It utilizes a split-level design with the bottom floor serving as the main living quarters. Depending on what it’s being used for, the upper floor can serve as extra living space with a lounge area, bathroom, and beds at each end or it can be set up as a workspace for use during promotional tours.
The roof is separated into three sections that open independently of each other, with the front section having the ability to slide forward and increase the floor space. The Road Yacht is available to rent with an included driver so feel free to let loose and enjoy the trip if you get a chance at this one.
Number one Personally, I think this one is a genius idea. But given the track record of this style of boat/camper combo, it’s probably a good thing I’m not in the industry. Kom-Pak made this one in the early 1950s, only building an estimated 16-20 with less than half of those remaining today.
The trailer and boat were both made from fiberglass and built to resemble the rear ends of Ford vehicles of the day, a selling point that, unfortunately, didn’t help in the end. The boat served as the roof of the trailer when not in use.
A framework of poles with a folding canvas covered everything when the boat was removed. The interior is accessed via a door on the side, offering just enough room to sleep as well as storage space at each end.
The rear of the trailer houses the cooking area while also serving as a work area using the fold-down compartment door. Like most, it only offered the basics. But the diverse nature of the design coupled with the low weight of just under 1,200 pounds made this one a top choice in my book.
Alright, folks, there’s our ten and then some. Let us know in the comments if you have any memories of using these on your camping trips from back in the day. Also, feel free to offer any suggestions you think should’ve made the list.