Published: September 12th, 2023
Writers: Tim Viall
Small travel trailers are easy to store and relatively easy to tow with many four-cylinder and virtually all six-cylinder autos and SUVs. They are light-weight, yielding good gas mileage, offer comfort and, as my spouse would offer, “safety from bear attacks”! Today we will share insight on both true vintage tiny trailers, and modern classic travel trailers. For a two-person family or family with several kids, vintage and modern classic trailers can be found in the range of 13 to 20 feet, offering room for up to four family members.
We are owners of two vintage Scotty trailers, a refurbished 1958 Scotty Junior teardrop trailer, and a larger, 1964 Scotty Sportsman trailer, which I rebuilt from the frame-up. We found the Scotty teardrop on eBay, rebuilt by a West Virginia high school shop teacher, and bought the trailer on a trip back to Gettysburg. We have crossed the country 2.5 times with the little Scotty, towed with a Ford Focus 5-speed, yielding 27 MPG towing. Of course, teardrop trailers range from 4’ X 8’, or 5’ X 10’, essentially a cozy bed on wheels, with a small kitchen of sorts built into the rear hatch. Teardrop trailers are ideal for two people, but “cozy” is the key word!
Six years ago, I found the ‘64 Scotty for sale in S. California; purchased it for only $900 but faced a year-long rebuild of 500 hours and another $5,000 invested. Result is a cute, retro-trailer that offers a full bed in back, small cabinetry midship with a two burner stove, icebox and wardrobe cabinet, and a dinette up front that seats four adults and makes into a second bed. The Scotty is just right for two people, or a family with small kids. Towed with a Ford Escape, we get about 20 MPG towing. Another big plus, both trailers store behind the six foot fence beside my home, and we face no storage fees.
Here’s a sampling of beautiful vintage trailers we’ve seen in recent years, offering quality, collectability and proper “coolness quotient”:
Airstream: These aluminum trailers offer the iconic shape, starting with the tiny Bambi and offering a number of slightly larger trailers that can be towed with mid-size vehicles. Often the talk of a campground; they are also the most expensive to purchase.
Shasta trailers: Classic “canned hams”, originally made in southern California, so you’ll find lots of them spread around the west. They sprouted the cute Shasta wings in 1958, continuing through the mid-80s.
Serro Scotty trailers: Made in the late ’50s to the ’80s with simple construction (making them easiest to rebuild), they also offer the classic canned ham profile. Our 64 Scotty Sportsman provides plenty of room for two, featuring a double bed in back, small dinette seating for four that converts to another bed, and center cooking area with small sink and two-burner stove.
New trailers also come in “classic design”; sleek, small and cute. They include Shasta, which has recently re-issued a retro Shasta Airflyte, as well as Casita, R-pod and T@B trailers, all of them well-built, stylish and made to last. Search for a modern trailer that is two to five years old; find a well-maintained camper and pay only about half of what the trailer sold for when new.
This article about tiny camping trailers reminded me of those shows on HTV channels where people would design and build tiny homes for themselves. I find this very creative and artsy because of unconventional type of living this is and the amount of design thinking goes behind it. These camping trailers can also be seen as a “car accessory”, however, more like a car extension. The point of these tiny trailers is for people to have a safe, easy camping adventure that is tailored to their convenience. This article discussed restoring vintage style trailers which I found interesting. Reminded me of the repair charrette we did a couple years ago. Is there an existing car accessory that I can design to be more effective for a curbside pickup customer? Is there something that did exist in the past that can be reapplied to the problematic I find in this project? Again, this is why I am including this article in the arts section. The type of thinking I have in relation to this project and the creative solutions to a niche problem. I’d be interested if I can apply any of these aesthetic features or design thinking to my project.