Vintage Campers, Trailers & Teardrops

by Patrick R. Foster

“On vacation. Unavailable. Away for the week. Gone. Are there any sweeter words in the English language? It’s a fact: everybody needs to get away from it all every now and then, to  clear the brain, recharge the batteries, to just feel free for a change.”

These rousing words are right from the beginning of the book, and the phrase “now and then” is the clue that this is a book for the occasional, leisure-type camper as opposed to the fulltimer for whom the undeniable charms of vintage equipment won’t make up for its limitations on the creature-comfort side of things.

Camping is all about traveling light which means making choices—so what would you need to know to pick this one from the very tall pile of books on this subject? It’s probably best understood as an introductory text with words and visuals geared towards introducing a prospective camper to the history and culture of camping of the vehicular variety. If you’ve moved up from tents but are a long way from a multimillion dollar high-end Class A motorhome (no joke, this—a new bespoke Liberty Coach Artist Series starts at $2.7 million! Where’s the book about that??) this book will show you alternatives and also point you towards resources such as websites for further immersion. 

Another draw this book has is that it is written by a widely published automotive writer and historian—with a string of awards to his name—you probably recognize as a regular contributor to a variety of mainstream magazines. Also, and not least, veteran publisher Motorbooks tips the scales with clever book design and high production values at a low price.

Neither this nor Foster’s earlier book on Airstream trailers gives any indication that he himself is a practitioner. One is inclined to think not but the Acknowledgments point to several people who are. The only reason to note that is that the book certainly doesn’t dwell on the myriad of technical and practical complications inherent to any house on wheels, vintage or otherwise. This is a book about the “romance of raindrops pitter-pattering on a tin roof” not the horrors of servicing a vintage waste tank.

All the different types of camper structures are explained and shown (replete with vintage photos and period ads) and a whole chapter each are devoted to Airstreams (trailers only, not touring coaches which are a more recent type), and to European activities/equipment, especially the VW Bus. The trailer chapter mentions several makes of replicas whose obvious appeal is that they combine retro looks with moderns amenities.

Hard to say what’s cooler, a Citroën Safari or an E-Type as a tow vehicle?

As an idea book, this one paints a colorful picture and certainly makes camping look attractive. Just be sure to get a reality check from folks who have actually done it before you hit the classifieds. And practice reversing with a trailer!

Vintage Campers, Trailers & Teardrops
by Patrick R. Foster
Motorbooks, 2021
160 pages, b/w & color illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $35.99 / £25.99
ISBN-13: 978-0760366813

RSS Feed - Comments

Leave a comment

(All comments are moderated: you will see it, but until it's approved no one else will.)