The ultimate in glamour? A vintage campervan!

  • 05 June 2021
  • 5 min read
  • 9 images
The ultimate in glamour? A vintage campervan! image

Every child’s dream is to build a hut, maybe a small house of their own. Unsurprisingly then, the freedom that arrived with the advent of the automobile pushed man – and his woman who was delighted to have a second mobile home – towards the creation of caravans or, more properly, because they were created and thrived in the United States, Trailers.

1-1344x7561931. Wally Byam shows one of the first Airstreams, quite different from the ones we know today, all in polished aluminium

The arrival of trailers in the United States came about for a number of reasons: for starters, before the outbreak of the Second World War, cars were already widespread over there. Then, for all intents and purposes, the Great Country was made especially for travel. Finally, when the crisis of 1929 hit the economy hard, a house that could be towed resolved more than its fair share of problems. There was a surge of creativity in this field, often due to the reconversion of companies in decline, as was the case for the world of aviation. The aluminium-bodied Hawley Bowlus, Curtis and the now legendary Airstreams all have aviation in their veins, and the streamlined shapes of their creations clearly show it. 

2Two extremes together, a beautiful wooden Woody towing a Bowlus Road Chief. The shape and use of aluminium immediately give a hint as to the origins of the manufacturer that specialized in aircraft

Now we know a little more about the history of camper vans, here’s a small sample of the incredibly vast universe of historical trailers. This week, we’ll take a look at the USA, next week, under the familiar name of “caravans”, it’s the turn of the European ones. There’s a lot of fun to be had here. And it might also be worth raising your antennas because there’s a new phenomenon sweeping across the USA, and it won’t take long for it to reach Europe, called “glamping”. “What?” we hear you ask… Why, that’s an easy one to figure out: glamorous camping in which only vintage trailers are allowed, carefully curated and meticulously cared for. This is also an interesting theme for the post-pandemic era: let’s make a sensation with our vintage caravan! Towed, of course, by a car from the same period…

3A desire for tomorrow: it’s 1935 and the combination of a futuristic car, access to which was through a front door like the one used in the Isetta, combined with an aerodynamic trailer with many portholes that follow the line

Below are a few examples that have impressed us the most for their imagination and innovation. Unfortunately, some of them, such as the Airstream, cannot be used in Europe for their electric braking system, which is not approved. But no matter, these are undeniably magical objects that can become a small villa if well positioned in the right place. Have fun!

4Nostalgia for the past: This Buick Super Custom Pick-up pulls a romantic wooden cottage with sea-faring ambitions as demonstrated by the ship's wheel applied to the rear

5Bespoke creativity: in this Curtiss AeroCar, the customer asked for a glazed turret from which his children could see the road while staying “at home”

6Small is beautiful. An elegant roadster for a microhouse

7This super-technological trailer is called Aero Flite Falcon, which was built, according to American tradition, in treated aluminium. Its shape is magnificent, particularly considering the period it was built in: the end of the 40s

8Against the grain. Compared to the beloved aeronautical-style trailers, this one clearly aspires to functionality, maxing out the use of space and glass surfaces

9A beautiful example of an Alma, the leading trailer manufacturer in America in the 1940s, which combined the functionality of vertical sides for maximum space with the curvature of the body at both the front and rear