10 Classic Campers that Paved the Way to the Modern Day | Vintage Caravan, a Blast from the Past
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10 Classic Campers that Paved the Way to the Modern Day | Vintage Caravan, a Blast from the Past


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. I’m Reacher…and today we’re bringing you
ten vintage and classic campers that paved the way to the modern-day. 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 the two-color schemes you
see here. 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 cooktop. 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 Confort 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. I’m Reacher…and we’ll see you on the next
one!

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