Friday, March 11, 2011

Missed Opportunities

Winter 2001 We had the vintage trailer bug, but we didn't know what to do about it. We took long drives in the country looking for abandoned trailers and found quite a few. Some were canned hams. Some were Airstreams. Some were horse trailers. Some were propane tanks. None had "For Sale" signs in them and I was too much of a newbie to go make an offer.

We found an Airstream dealer in Portland... Spencer's RV on SE 82nd (now out of business). It seemed like a great place to start. We looked through a few new trailers but everything about the interiors seemed utterly disposable. They had a large parking lot out back with a herd of trailers waiting to be worked on in their repair shop. There I saw an Airstream Safari from the 1950s. I had never seen a 13-panel Airstream before and I fell in love with the million rivets, extra panels, the door-within-a-door, 10-foot span of windows on the street side. I couldn't get very close to it, but WOW! I loved the way it looked. It wasn't for sale.

Then a used car lot close to our house got a 1966 SilverStreak Sabre in on consignment. It had two axels, anodized aluminum exterior, turquoise appliances, pink bathroom, would sleep 4 easily and seemed to be just what we were looking for. Remember I said I had just gotten laid off? They were asking $5,000. Too rich for my blood, so we had to pass. (This picture isn't it... but it was the same model)

Then literally less than a mile from our house, someone parked a 1959 Travel-Eze. It looked beautiful. It was locked up tight, but I looked inside to see very little water damage on the original birch woodwork. The 12’ body was painted yellow and white and all the glass was good. I called the number, talked with the owner and arranged to meet them at the trailer as soon as they could… that day at 1pm. I called again at 12:30 to make sure we were still on and the lady said she had just sold it… for $500!!! Apparently another caller was very adamant about seeing it right then and they met them an hour earlier. I said I would have gladly paid $700 and didn’t appreciate them lying to me. Grrrr…. (I haven't been able to find a picture of this model, but I'll post one if/when I do.) THEN through the miracle of the internet we found the trailer Haley fondly refers to as our retirement home. …stay tuned…

Cool Trailer!

I think from time to time I'm going to just post a few images of a cool trailer I've come across. Sometimes it'll be from the internet, other times it will be from my own experience.
In any case, I thought I would start it off with a bang! I believe this is the absolute coolest trailer I have ever seen. It's a Holiday House made in Medford Oregon. WOW! It was made in 1960 and is a prototype. I have no idea if there was more than one made, where it is today or anything. But wow... doesn't it look amazing?!


UPDATE: A facebook friend was familiar with this trailer and sent me the link with ALL the info. It's a GREAT story and if you find this trailer interesting, you will LOVE reading more about it, plus there are a million GREAT pictures!

NOTE: If these are your pictures or you know of some reason why I shouldn't have them up on this blog, please let me know and I'll address the issue ASAP! THANKS!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Choices choices choices

Fall 2001
There are many different varieties of vintage trailers. And many sub-categories of those. We were often mystified by the dizzying array of different names people had for the same things. Here is the world of vintage trailers as I understand it.

Chrome Twinkies: aka toasters. I think these are the classic shape and I like these the most. Airstream, Silver Streak, Avion, Aero Bolus, Curtis-Wright and others

Canned Hams: Shasta (with wings!), Travel-Eze, Aloha, Love Bug and many many others

Teardrops: Mostly home built with plans from Popular Science and other handyman-type magazines. Often customized. Either overbuilt (good) or very rickety (bad!).

Futuristic: That’s what I call ‘em anyway. Usually great looking and built in very small numbers.

Art Deco: The great Spartan Manor is probably the most popular of these.

Just Weird: Usually one-offs. Great for head-scratching and “what is it?” contests.

I probably also should have included really vintage trailers… trolley tops, Pioneers, ...but most pre-war trailers don’t interest me very much.

An explaination is in order....

FALL 2001

Well I guess I better explain myself. I love old trailers. I REALLY love old trailers. I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, there was a time when vintage trailers were not even on my radar.

We lived in Scappoose Oregon, a little town about 20 miles North by Northwest of Portland. I had gotten laid off in June, the 9/11 terrorist attacks had changed everything, and in between job searches (discovered I was too old to join the FBI… how depressing!), I wasted time playing music, tinkering with my fun car (a 1971 Volvo 1800E) and tackling various home improvement projects. My neighbors called me “Handy Steve” because I had good luck fixing things, and wasn’t afraid to try.

One November evening Haley (my lovely wife) and I were watching TV. HGTV did a segment about vintage travel trailers featuring a company called Vintage-Vacations. WHAT IS THIS?!! We looked at each other all bug-eyed and excited. How had we never seen this before?!! Vintage Airstreams?! Brilliant! What a great idea!

Haley had fond memories of camping as a child in an Airstream Landyacht her dad borrowed from a neighbor. I had never set foot inside a trailer, vintage or new… but I know I didn’t like tent camping very much. We have two children. What a great way to take vacations and build memories as a family.

The search was on!